School Profile: Is Your Character Strong Enough for University of Virginia?

The University of Virginia ranks #32 among the Veritas Prep Elite College Rankings. Inspired by Thomas Jefferson, the University was founded in 1819 and opened in 1825, under Jefferson’s guiding principle to “shed light on the public mind.” It was the first university to separate church and state. Located in Charlottesville, one of the most livable cities in the US, the campus is set on property formerly owned by James Monroe. With its Jeffersonian architecture, expansive green space, lush gardens, famous Rotunda and Academical Village, it has been called one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, and is the only university to be designated a World Heritage Site.

The University of Virginia has 51 undergraduate degree programs in eleven schools. Additionally, the school offers 81 master’s degrees and 57 PhDs, plus professional degrees in both medicine and law. It has a strong emphasis on humanities, and has produced more Rhodes Scholars than any other state university. Its business and economics programs are well known and highly respected. UVA is among a consortium of elite international research universities called the Universitas 21.

The faculty have earned prestigious accolades in several academic circles including a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel Laureate among many others. UVA faculty have been instrumental in Internet networking and astrophysics. Notable faculty and alumni include President, Woodrow Wilson; social and Civil Rights Activist, Julian Bond; Poet Laureate, Rita Dove; author, Edgar Allan Poe; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Charles Wright; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Edward Jones; journalist, Katie Couric; astronaut, Kathryn Thornton; Senator, Robert Kennedy; and many more. This is the school to help you make your personal impact on the world through research, humanities, and science.

There are 13 first-year suite-style houses clustered on Alderman Road, or 10 single/double room dorms clustered along McCormick Road. There are also residential colleges grouped by area of study with faculty representatives. There are also five apartment buildings for students. Seniors can apply to live on the prestigious section of campus known as The Lawn, alongside the ten Pavilions housing the university Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer, the Academic Deans, and notable University professors.

There is a vibrant Greek life with several fraternities and sororities clustered along Rugby Road. The Corner is the section of University Avenue where students gather to unwind in the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Social life on “the Grounds,” as they refer to their campus, is such that UVA was rated the top party school in 2012. Charlottesville is a laidback community with a comfortable vibe that attracts artists, musicians, creatives, and professionals. The city’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains also offers students many opportunities for outdoor activities in the splendor of nature.

The NCAA Division I Virginia Cavaliers are part of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Cavaliers are a national powerhouse in nearly every sport with accolades too numerous to mention. Some highlights include over 20 national championships in men’s tennis, soccer, lacrosse, and boxing, women’s rowing, lacrosse, and cross country, and combined track and field. The basketball and football teams have won a number of conference titles. The men’s soccer team holds the most national titles of any team at the University. The football team has produced notable NFL players, the soccer team boasts alumnus Claudio Reyna who was named Player of the Century by Soccer America, and several alumni have earned Olympic medals in various sports. The Cavaliers, also known as Wahoos or ‘Hoos, have long-standing rivalries with Virginia-Tech, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Maryland. Get your orange and navy blue ready, because the University of Virginia is serious about sports.

Secret societies, an 1842 Honor Code, unprecedented student governance, prestigious honor societies, and University specific lingo are hallmarks of UVA tradition. In honor of Thomas Jefferson’s commitment to lifelong education, students are not referred to as freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, but rather as first years, second years, third years and fourth years. Third years participate in the annual UVA ring ceremony where they receive their class rings in the presence of their families. Another annual tradition is the Lighting of the Lawn in December for the holidays accompanied by acapella music. Students wear casual dress attire to football games; after UVA scores, students link arms and sway together while singing the school anthem “The Good Old Song.”

One of the most unique aspects of the University of Virginia is its long-standing Honor System. The principle behind the system is that students adhere to a code of conduct where they do not “lie, cheat, or steal.” It applies to both academic and personal life on campus and a single violation results in dismissal from the University. Although it is controversial and has been challenged a number of times since the 1990s, it remains in place and several students have been expelled from the University for violations, including some who had already graduated and had their diplomas revoked. If the University of Virginia is on your short-list of schools, make sure that your commitment to character is strong enough to keep you in school.

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By Colleen Hill