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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A student's note about diversity

May 1st is around the corner and we've been getting lots of interesting questions at the Office of Admission.  A while back, you gave me topics you'd like to see covered here and one of them was diversity.  Daniel Grimes, a member of the Class of 2012, wrote this note to those of you who are interested in diversity here.


Congratulations on being admitted to the University of Virginia! You all are about to embark on one of the most exciting times in your life. Now on to my main purpose today and that is to discuss the issue of diversity at the UVA. Before I begin, I caution you to not generalize my experiences to the entire student body; I am only one person coming from one vantage point.

Diversity is an all encompassing word that can mean so many things. There is diversity in terms of race, gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, etc. This blog is not long enough for me to discuss all of those in detail so I will try to give you an overarching sense of what diversity means at UVA. For those of you who are into statistics and factual evidence, you will be happy to hear that UVA is actually the most diverse school in Virginia. Just read this special report from WDBJ7 that discusses this issue more in depth
 
To get straight to the point, UVA has a lot of different types of people just like any other university in the world. The greatest thing about the University is the fact that there is an outlet for all of these different people. If you are an African American who wants to be in an all black organization, then you are certainly welcome to do so. In the same vein, if you are someone who wants to venture out of the comforts of your race, then there are organizations available to you as well. The University Guide Service, the A Capella community, drama productions, and the student council are just a few organizations that are available for you to do so. 

I always seek to have a wholesome experience with whatever I undertake and so I chose to participate in various organizations. I am a Peer Advisor for the Office of African American Affairs and am also a member of the Academical Village People, an all-male A Capella group at UVA. These different organizations have their separate purposes, but both manage to fill voids in my life. And that is the answer to the diversity question. UVA is what you make it. It is diverse if you want it to be diverse. In fact, that is true with wherever you decide to spend the next four years. There will be resources available at any school to fill the various voids in your life, but it is up to you to be proactive and fill those niches. I am positive that if you continue to be open minded and perform as well as you did to get into UVA then you will have an enriched college experience.  

Monday, April 25, 2011

Days on the Lawn #6 today!

Today is the Days on the Lawn that we added to the end of the schedule in light of losing Friday, April 15th.  We were celebrating the inauguration of our President, Teresa Sullivan, on that day.

The program is almost identical, though we have a later start time and we couldn't pull the resource fair together at the last minute.  Rest assured, there will be deans and current students in Peabody Hall all day to answer any questions you may have.

Here's the schedule:

9:00-11:00 AM -     Registration at Peabody Hall
11:00-11:15 AM -   Welcome address in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium (with Dean Roberts and a student)
11:15-11:45 AM -   Student Panel in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium
11:45-12:15 PM -   Faculty Panel in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium
12:15-1:15 PM -     Lunch Buddies (students will be in Old Cabell's lobby to take visiting students to lunch)
1:30 PM -                 Walking Tours
1:30 - 2:30 PM -     School of Nursing Information Session at Claude Moore Room 1120
1:45-2:45 PM -       School of Engineering Tour (starts in the lobby of Thornton Hall)
3:00-4:00 PM -       Information sessions for Architecture, Engineering, Education, and Leadership & Public Policy Schools (see schedule for various locations)

*Class visits will go on throughout the day*

You can attend the whole day or go off on your own.  Just remember that we'll be in Peabody Hall if you need anything.

CavDog is here.  He'll be in Peabody most of the day with intermittent fetch sessions on the lawn in front of the building.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Days on the Lawn #5

 

It's the fifth Days on the Lawn!  I can't believe the DOTL season is coming to a close.  CavDog has had a great time meeting all the visitors (though some have no idea who he is and why he's here).  I brought him to Grounds hoping we would avoid the rain and so far, we've only had a few sprinkles.  If the weather holds, we'll be outside Peabody Hall at lunch time, when he'll be thrilled to get a little more quality time with students.
If it starts to rain, I'll be inside Peabody Hall with CavDog all afternoon.  Feel free to come in and say hello!

If you've already visited, I hope you have fond memories of your time here and I hope your visit has helped to narrow down your options.  May 1st is around the corner!

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's DOTL #4



It's the fourth Days on the Lawn today. The news websites are saying it's going to be a beautiful day, but I don't have first hand knowledge about what it's like in Charlottesville right now. Some of us are missing today.


Grounds will be full of students and folks eager to help you discuss your college options. However, three of us are tucked away in a hotel in the suburbs of Baltimore for the annual PCACAC conference.


The morning session at PCACAC is about to start. 
That's Eric Hoover from The Chronicle and Jim Jump from St. Christopher's School. 

PCACAC is the regional chapter of the professional organization to which college counselors and college admission officers belong. We get together once each year to talk about the state of college admission in the area.

I wish I was in Charlottesville this morning to greet our visitors and I'm sure CavDog is wondering why he isn't going to Grounds today, but we know you'll have a wonderful time without us.

Have a wonderful day! I'll be back on Grounds on Wednesday. Until then, feel free to leave a comment if you have a question for me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The dreaded overlap continues

Remember when I mentioned that March was the start of the overlap season? Well, it's in full force right now. We have scores of admitted students on Grounds for Days on the Lawn (and we even saw one denied student wandering around during DOTL the other day), but it's also spring break at a lot of schools right now. 

Once an information session is full, it disappears from the reservation system.  So, if you are planning a last minute trip to UVa next week, please understand that all three sessions (8:30 am, 10:00 am, and 1:00 pm) are full for most days.  We added those 8:30 am sessions to handle extra visitors.




CavDog is thoroughly exhausted after going to three Days on the Lawn in four days.  He'll be rested and back in action next week.

Friday, April 08, 2011

DOTL #1 is underway (and it's not raining!)


 

The weather was on our side this morning.  Despite the weather folks citing an 80-90% chance of rain, we had a chilly, but sunny morning on the Lawn for Days on the Lawn.  CavDog, CavMan, and the Drumline from the Cavalier Marching Band were on hand to welcome all of our guests.
 

If you're here, I hope you're having a great day.  If you're making plans to visit us for a DOTL in the near future, we can't wait to see you on Grounds!  Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

DOTL Logistics

Tomorrow marks the start of a busy few days for us.  The first DOTL is tomorrow, Scholar's DOTL is Saturday, and there's another DOTL on Monday (it will probably be the largest one).  There are hundreds of students working behind the scenes to make this happen and they are so, so excited to meet you all.  I thought I'd write about a few things to keep in mind for your visit.


Parking: I hope you've read the parking instructions on the DOTL website.  We have reserved the entire Emmet & Ivy parking garage for visitors.  You can park there for free.  The catch is that you have to take a shuttle or walk up to the Lawn for the start of the day (there is a closer parking garage, but it's a little expensive and some construction is taking up some of the spaces).  Once you get beyond the first intersection, it's a nice walk.  You'll walk along the tennis and beach volleyball courts, then pass the back of Alderman Library before crossing McCormick Road to go to the Lawn.  If you've visited before, McCormick Road is where the Office of Admission and is located.  You'll probably see the chapel and realize where you are.

We'll have some student volunteers (look for orange shirts) and staff members at the garage to point you in the right direction.  If you want to take the shuttle bus, look for those orange shirts.  They'll be standing at the spot where you can hop on.


Timing: Registration will start at 8:00 am and lasts an hour.  You don't have to be here at 8:00 am on the dot. Please don't arrive too early!  Our staff and students will be running around trying to set up and get prepared for the day up until 8:00 am.

There is a full schedule of activities, both academic and non-academic.  None are required.  You can opt to go to everything (many families split up with students going to class and a parent going to the resource fair or panels) or you can do your own thing.  Try to get over to do the residence hall tours at some point.  You'll be escorted through three different styles of dorms (traditional, suite, and residential college) in small groups.


Food: If you want to eat with a current student, we have a Lunch Buddies program (see your agenda when you register).  There are a number of dining spots on Grounds.  The Lunch Buddies will probably take you to one of the main dining halls (maybe Newcomb?).  There are some smaller cafes tucked here and there that might be convenient if you are trying to fit many activities into your day.  If you have extra time on your hands, you might want to explore the Corner.

The Greenberry's Coffee in Alderman Library (across from the chapel) and the West Range Cafe at the curve of McCormick Road are good, central spots to rest if someone in your party wants to have a little down time.


Getting Help: If you need help during the day, there will be student volunteers (again, look for the orange shirts) at kiosks around Grounds.  Most students realize what day it is pretty quickly and are happy to help if you are a little lost.  Just ask!

You can always stop by the Office of Admission at Peabody Hall if you need to talk to us.


Dress Code: People always ask what they should wear.  You need to be comfortable!  You're going to be walking around Grounds like a normal student does.  There's no need to dress up.  The vast majority of students wear jeans.  You can certainly wear jeans.


Rain Plan: Unfortunately, it looks like it might rain tomorrow, April 8th.  If that happens, we will have to split the group into two for the 9:00 am welcome.  Half of the group will move into Old Cabell Hall's theater (Old Cabell is the building that faces the Rotunda on the lawn) and the other half will go to the Newcomb Hall theater.  It's not ideal, but we have speakers lined up for both groups.  After that, the day goes on as usual.

Just a heads up: CavDog doesn't usually come to DOTL if it's raining. That's usually a game time decision.


If you have questions, please post them in the comments.  Safe travels!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

DOTL Arts Receptions!

I have more DOTL news (scroll down for the update I posted this morning).  

If you have an interest in the arts, consider attending the arts receptions that will be held on Days on the Lawn.  The locations vary from week to week.  Here's the schedule:

Friday, April 8th (3 PM) - Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library
Saturday, April 9th (3:30 PM) - Ruffin Hall
Monday, April 11th (3 PM) - U.Va. Arts Museum (on Rugby Road, a short walk from the Rotunda)
Friday, April 22nd (3 PM) - U.Va. Arts Museum (on Rugby Road, a short walk from the Rotunda)


DOTL update

As many of you are away, the response for Days on the Lawn has been amazing.  We hit capacity for each date except Scholars Day pretty quickly.  We opened up some more spots on each day, but most of those filled up (there are still a few spots open for this Friday, April 8th).

The crowds at these events are going to be large.  We want to make sure you're aware that there are other days you can visit and have a great experience.  Check out the Plan a Visit page on our website to see what you can do if you visit on a non-DOTL day.  You can still attend classes (we have open classes most of the year) and the Monroe Society is happy to take overnight visit requests.

In addition, we have planned an admitted student program on Monday, April 25th.  The program will include a tour of Grounds (the guides change things up a little bit for admitted students, by the way), sessions run by the schools of Engineering, Architecture, and Nursing (like the ones they have on DOTL), and a student and faculty panel discussion.  We'll have our usual tours and information sessions on those days as well. 

We've set up a special registration site for for the Monday, April 25th program.

Monday, April 04, 2011

A guest blogger from the Housing office!


 I'm so happy to share some words from John Evans, the Director of Accommodations in the Housing Division at UVa.  Be sure to check out the first year page on the housing website.  It has a lot of the information you're probably seeking (floor plans, pictures, FAQs).  First, here's some general information about residential life at UVa...


 Congratulations on your admission to UVa!  That is a big accomplishment and a strong endorsement for the work you’ve done to this point in your education.  We look forward to meeting you and helping with your continued academic success and personal growth and development.  I will try to give you a general overview of issues related to Housing and where you will live once you arrive On Grounds.


Where you live and who you live with are a big part of the first year experience that you will have… but that doesn’t mean that it’s something that you need to be stressed or worried about.  I want to first assure you, that no matter where you are assigned to live, you will love it.  Every year we get lots of calls about every imaginable question or concern from people who are stressed because they believe that if they don’t control all of the variables, the outcome won’t be what they want.  


Roommate choice is at the top of that list for many people.  Fortunately, a lot of research has been done on roommate matching and roommate success.  I can tell you that, as important as it seems, statistically, all types of roommate matching produce the same results.  You need to decide what you are comfortable with.  The University of Virginia matches first year students, unless you and another student both select each other as roommates.  We believe that the experience of spending your first year here, living with someone that is new and different from you is a valuable experience.  I also want to assure you that in most cases, it turns out just fine to let your roommate be a random selection.  Many in-state students do have friends coming here and many decide to be roommates.  I don’t want to discourage you from doing that, but I would ask you to consider that during your first semester and year away from home, you will make a lot of changes – more than almost any other periods in your life.  Sometimes that process can be difficult when you live with someone who feels that they know who you are/were when you were in high school.  If you don’t live with those friends, you have someone that you can still hang out with and spend time with, but then you both will have a new circle of friends that you can share with each other and expand your connections.   

The roommate matching that we do asks some basic questions about your life style.  People want to believe that this should be more extensive and sophisticated so that no one will ever have a bad roommate experience.  There aren’t any instruments that can do that.  I joke with groups sometimes that the divorce rate is about 50% in this country and that the screening process I hope that most of us go through before we commit to getting married is pretty intense and personal.  We all have to be willing to discuss and work through our differences, compromise and be sensitive to each other’s needs.  If you are willing to raise issues and give your roommate a chance to respond to your needs when issues arise, in most cases, you will be fine.  If you let things fester, passively live with things you don’t like and don’t give your roommate the chance to make a change, then you will have problems.  That’s why the University feels that the experience of sharing a room is so valuable for you.   All of your potential roommates are people who have just successfully completed the same admission process as you.  You are the same age and are going through the same changes and challenges.  You all automatically have a lot in common with each other.  

 If you feel that a single room is what you need, we also have that as an option.  Almost all of the single rooms are in the Gooch/Dillard complex.  This complex will contain all first year students for the first time this year.  The buildings contain mostly 6 person suites and there is room for over 600 first year students in the complex, so you can have your private space and still be a part of a close knit group.  There are also a small number of “stairwell” single rooms in the McCormick Road complex.


The programs you can choose from are also a regular topic of concern.  For first year students, there are really two different options that you can choose from.  Almost all of the class will live in one of the three complexes that are exclusively for first year student housing.  These include the Alderman Road, McCormick Road and Gooch/Dillard complexes.  In these areas, all students are assigned randomly.  You cannot designate preference for an area.  This is also part of the University’s making sure that you have as diverse a living experience as possible.  Above the roommate level, we do not allow students to group themselves.  This is something that will be new for any parents who are alums, but it is something that they have to get used to.   
Within the Alderman Road complex there is space set aside for scholars housing.  The students who are a part of the Echols, Rodman and College Science Scholars groups will automatically be assigned to the spaces reserved for those programs.  

 The other choices that first year students can apply for are in the University’s three Residential Colleges.  These colleges are interdisciplinary social living communities that are student self-governed and that have live in faculty members and faculty fellows that interact with students in the programs around the theme selected by the community.  Brown College focuses on individual creativity (generally), Hereford College is focused on issues related to sustainability and the International Residential College (IRC) is focused on international issues (it is not housing set aside for international students).  In each of these communities, 20% of the space is set aside for first year students.  The rest of the space is filled with upperclass students.  If you are accepted into one of these programs as a first  year, you can continue to live there throughout your undergraduate career.


Location seems to matter more here than any other university I’ve worked for.  I’m not sure why.  In the first year areas, students and parents seem to want to believe that a difference of a few minutes in how far they have to walk each way to the center of grounds will make or break their experience or will hinder people from participating in an activity or resource somehow.  That is clearly not the case.  From my frame of reference (think Big 10 schools/campuses), this is not a large campus and the bus service is excellent.  The same bus lines run past all of the first year areas and most students make one main trip to the center of grounds and back each day.  You’re young and you can adjust.  Walking is a good form of exercise.   Everyone wants to live as close as possible to the center of Grounds, but it just isn’t possible to have all of our facilities in equidistant locations.  There are old beliefs based on which student groups used to select to live in the different first year options  (you’ll still hear University Guides use the phrases “new” and “old” dorms), but those old patterns no longer exist since the selection process was randomized.  Don’t worry about the location of where you live.  Once you move in and meet the other students, it becomes the best place for you to live – no matter where it is.  


If you have medical needs, it is important that you contact the Learning Needs and Assessment Office.  Not all of the first year housing is air conditioned and with all of forest surrounding Charlottesville, this is an area that can be hard on allergy sufferers.  We will make every effort to accommodate your individual needs so that you can be comfortable and successful here.


The University has a lot invested in helping you be successful here.  One of the most important resources available to you is your Resident Assistant.  This is an upperclass, undergraduate student who lives with you.  They have been trained to work with your needs and to be knowledgeable about the University’s services.  They are also a peer who is just a  couple of steps ahead of you, so they know what you will be going through.  You will meet them when you check in and they are there when you need them.  Please get to know them and take advantage of their experience here.


There is also a lot of concern about where to live beyond the first year.  There is room in upperclass housing on Grounds for everyone who wants to remain on Grounds.   Typically, approximately 50% of the second year class moves off Grounds.  If you want to remain in on Grounds housing for your second year, you are guaranteed an offer if you apply by the December 1st deadline.  Many students are anxious to move into an apartment as second years.   Fortunately, the University offers on Grounds apartments in several areas (Bice, Faulkner, Copeley and Lambeth).  There are also the three residential colleges and there are 12 different language House programs.  For information about the Language houses, please go to the web site for the academic department.  Information about all of these options, including floor plans, photos and lists of amenities are available on the Housing Division web site.  


It catches many students and parents by surprise, but the off Grounds lease signing process for apartments in the community begins around October 1st.  I want to note it here, because it can be a shock, even though this has become typical in University towns across the nation.   The local student rental market has expanded dramatically over the past decade.  There is now a surplus of space available to students.  There is no reason to feel pressured to sign a lease until you are ready.  The stampede is always led by groups who feel that their life can’t follow the correct course if they aren’t in a specific, prime, location.  Be sure to think through what you want and what will work best for you.  Leases in the community are almost all for 12 months, not the 9 months of the academic year.  We have bus tours during parents weekend to show you around to all of the upperclass housing options and will be coming to all of the first year buildings during September to give you an overview of the process.


For now, Welcome and Congratulations!  Please contact us and also visit the HousingDivision web site and Blog for more information.   When you come to Grounds, you will notice that there is construction in the Alderman Road Area.  In May, we will be demolishing 4 of the buildings currently standing (Lile, Maupin, Tuttle and Webb).  Two brand new and as yet unnamed buildings will be finished in June to replace them.  Work will also be beginning on the next three buildings that are a part of the replacement project.  The suite style buildings in the complex are being replaced with hall style buildings. 

Take care,

John Evans
Director of Accommodations


I'm so thankful that John was willing to guest blog.  I wouldn't have been able to cover all of this great information as well as he just did.  If you post questions, I'll answer as many as I can and pass the rest on the John.  I'll post his replies in the next few days.