College Tours: University of Virginia (UVA)

Our College Advisor, Grace, just returned from visiting University of Virginia (UVA) and is sharing her thoughts about what makes this school great! From "Lawnies" to UVA's secret societies, this university is truly unique. Read all about her experience touring campus below. 

Why is this school awesome?

It's beautiful, student-focused, and spirited without being overly competitive. Students are incredibly hardworking and goal-oriented, but also have a lot of fun through involvement in a variety of CIOs (contracted independent organizations). If you are eager to share your talents to engage others and would describe yourself as someone who has a "bias for action," you'll be in good company at UVA.

Favorite spot on campus?

The Lawn! It's part of Thomas Jefferson's "Academical Village" -- right in front of the recently-renovated Rotunda -- and was designed by Jefferson himself. It is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site (as is his nearby residence: Monticello) and houses ~54 of the most esteemed fourth year students, affectionally called "Lawnies," each year. It's an honor to be a Lawnie, as students who live there are selected based on an application process for having made unselfish service to the university + outstanding achievements in their activities/academics. However, the inside joke is that students who live here also have to trek rather far to use the bathroom... which is not ideal. So while it's central and honorable, there's some "fine print" to consider as well.

Students can be found relaxing here while sunbathing, playing frisbee, hanging out on rocking chairs outside of the lawn dorm rooms, or even just writing a paper while soaking in the refreshing outdoors. It's also a popular spot for school-wide events and traditions -- it's HUGE.

5 words to describe the campus/location:


The typical student is...

Hard to define! At a school as diverse as UVA's, you'll find all kinds of students; however, the most popular adjectives used to describe them include: ambitious, preppy (a lot of boat shoes and pastel-colored clothing), energetic, involved, and balanced. One attribute shared by most students is their commitment to building an inclusive community of students. From a residential college specifically for those that are "interested in the interesting," to an a cappella group for the musically-challenged called the "No Tones," to Greek Life, athletics of all levels, secret societies, etc., there is truly something for everyone.

International perspective?

Approximately 5% of UVA is made up of international students from around the globe. Their International Center provides resources, programs, and events for students to share intercultural experiences. There's also an International Residential College (the largest one at UVA!), which is made up of approximately 60% domestic students and 40% international students who share a living and learning experience. If you're interested in full-on language immersion, there are several language/culture-specific housing options for French (Maison Française), Spanish (Casa Bolívar), and other languages on a rotating basis (Shea House).

Special programs/offerings applicants should consider:

UVA has several different schools within it, some to which students apply at the outset, and others to which they apply during their second year of school. The undergraduate schools include the College of Arts and Sciences, Curry School of Education, Batten School of Leadership and Policy, McIntire School of Commerce (very popular), School of Architecture, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Nursing. Take note of the size of each school when you apply -- it's much easier to transfer out of a smaller school than into it if you change your mind while at UVA.

Tips for the application process?

1. UVA loves to see students who maintain a rigorous curriculum for all four years of high school, so we don't recommend "taking it easy" during your final year. They also love to see upward trends, so don't be overly concerned if you had a rocky start -- focus on improving over time.
2. UVA has in-state vs. out-of-state quotas when it comes to admissions. About 1/3 of the class applies from within VA (but makes up 2/3 of the admitted class), whereas 2/3 applies from outside of VA (but makes up 1/3 of the admitted class). 
3. Early Action applicants and Regular Decision applicants are reviewed in the same way (read: there's no advantage to applying EA, apart from finding out your admission results at an earlier date). There are also no GPA cut-offs; GPA/Test Scores are just a piece of the whole pie that is considered when determining your admission outcome.  
4. Once you apply, add and as "confirmed senders" in your email settings so they're not funneled accidentally into your Spam box.

Fun facts?

UVA has all kinds of school-specific "lingo" that students learn as soon as they arrive. They are serious about adhering to these, especially the first two below:
Grounds - aka, "campus" everywhere else. You never say that you're on-campus or off-campus; you say you're "on-Grounds" or "off-Grounds." If you mess this up, they immediately know you're not from UVA :)
First Year, Second Year, Third Year, Fourth Year - aka, freshmen/sophomore/junior/senior elsewhere. Tradition has it that Thomas Jefferson believed that learning is a life-long process, and thus, it wouldn't make sense to say you were a "senior in your learning" just because you were entering your fourth year.
Wahoo/Hoos - what UVA students call themselves, even though their mascot is technically the "Cavaliers." You'll more likely hear them shout, "Go Hoos!" than "Go Cavaliers!" at sporting events. Also, they love their sporting events.
The Corner - a small strip off-Grounds that has coffee shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The favorite go-to spot for many students is a bagel specialty shop called "Bodo's." Students swear by it!
Rugby Road - the street behind the Rotunda where many of the fraternity and sorority houses can be found.

UVA also has a large "secret society" presence, which can be seen via painted symbols and signs all around UVA. The three largest are the IMPs (semi-secret), Z Society (identified only by a ring that they wear at graduation), and the 7s (who aren't identified until they die, after which an announcement is made in the Cav Daily -- the school's newspaper -- and the chapel bell is rung 7 times at an ominous dissonant 7th interval... Communication with members of the 7s is made via a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the Lawn, which serves as a mailbox. Huh.

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