- Class: Alum
- Major: Chemistry
- Gender: F
- High School: Thomas A. Edison
- Transfer Student: N
This is an institution where you get bang for your buck (if you're in-state). The faculty are generally very impressive in the liberal arts, less so in the sciences. The courses are certainly more demanding than many other Virginia colleges and universities. I am proud to be a recent graduate of UVA. The best thing about UVA is the campus. It is beautiful and inspiring, especially outdoors. Brick buildings and sidewalks; lots of greenery, flowers, and trees; neoclassical architecture; tradition. Inside buildings, spaces are mostly about functionality, except in the libraries, where each library has a different atmosphere, so students can study in spaces that suit them best. The campus is walking distance to many good, inexpensive places to eat.
Professors of smaller classes know students' names. Favorite class? Too many excellent classes for me to have a favorite. What about favorite classes: Art History: Renaissance to Modern; Greek Civilization; The Book of Job; Intro to Hebrew Bible. students study 3/4 of the time when they're not in class or partying. Class participation is often not as eager as one would hope, but it happens. I think students are afraid to speak because we all feel we have to say something impressive, innovative, deep. Intellectual conversations outside of class occur occasionally, in my experience. Students aren't so much competitive as want to do well. So, your classmate isn't going to lie to you, or cheat you, but everyone is very motivated to do well. The chemistry department at UVA is very well funded for the number of researchers there. Many professors focus their efforts on research instead of teaching, though they express an interest and joy in teaching, they often send the signal that they don't have very much time for you, and you should ask the TAs questions instead. The curriculum for a BS is challenging. The department is not very large, and if you take the honors chemistry classes from 181-282 (the first two years of chemistry) you will see the same ~90 people in your chemistry classes from first semester through fourth, and often in later classes as well. Trying to solve problems in groups is encouraged, but each person must do his/her own work. Exams are often very challenging and there is usually quite a curve. Without the curve, only a few people would pass the class with C's or better, but with the curve, grades are generally not something to worry about unless you don't do the work. My experience is that they have often poorly chosen textbooks to save students some money, at the expense of not being not very good, or worse, not very suitable for the class. TAs are generally know their stuff very well, and are generous with their time, and generally liberal with their explanations. Education at UVA, even in the science departments, is very much geared towards knowledge for knowledge's sake. Many people go on to graduate school.
Racially, the University is growing in diversity. With that has come less self-segregation, though it is still quite common. Students often form tight-knit groups with various ethnic (or otherwise) organizations, gain a stronger sense of identity, and fail to branch out. I have heard about several incidents of prejudice against all groups of people on campus, sorority girls and frat guys, blacks, gays, etc. But I would say most people are relatively socially aware and open-minded. People of a particular ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, or religion generally do not have more trouble than others in finding friends and expressing themselves in class. Students who might feel out of place: I don't really think anyone, because there are groups of all kinds of people, though they may not make up a large population. People who dye their hair funky colors and have lots of piercings, or come from poor families (if the student is self-conscious about this), these are probably the groups of people who might feel less comfortable at UVA. Most UVA students are from northern virginia. and mostly from middle to upper middle class families. Students are generally socially aware and active, but not so much politically. I don't think I can judge whether most students were politically left, right, or center, but I do know that most professors are left and not afraid to talk about it. Students generally don't talk about money very much, maybe about stuff, but I've never overheard a conversation about future income, even in jest.
The Best Things
The Worst Things
the dining hall