What I Wish I Knew Before Going To The University of Virginia

Whether you’re a recently accepted Wahoo or aspiring to become one there are some key things that would be good to know before you start your first year at UVA.

You Need to Apply to your Major After You’ve Been Accepted.

You might have killed yourself in high school to get into UVA, but that still does not guarantee that you will get to major in what you want. The school is very crowded and the school requires that students apply to their major in order to receive priority enrollment for their classes. The good news is that the selection committee for a major is not nearly as selective as the one for the university so chances are you’ll get accepted. However, you should know that even if you’re accepted into your major you will not get into every class that you want so make sure you have backup options when signing up for classes.

Classes Fill Up Really Quickly

You will quickly find that UVA is really crowded and it can often be hard to get into even your core classes. You are probably not used to picking classes, but you need to learn quickly. Before every semester you will be given a time that you can begin signing up for classes. While you don’t have to sign up for classes at that exact time you definitely want to be ready. If you wait too long then chances are all the classes you want to take will already be full.

The best way to ensure that you get into at least a few of the classes you need to take is to plan your schedule ahead of time and already have them in your shopping cart. That way when your enrollment time starts you are ready to go. However, even if you click the Enroll button at the exact moment your enrollment time start there is no garutee that you will get into the class. Keep in mind that upper classmen will have sign up times ahead of you and might want to take the same classes. It’s best to have a back-up for every class you want to take in case you don’t get in.

UVA has a Unique Culture and You’ll Stand Out if You Don’t Know It.

Like most Colonial schools the University of Virginia has developed a unique culture. The first thing you’ll notice is that everyone uses a unique lingo when talking about the University and its students.

Here is a small dictionary of the most common words:

  • “Grounds” = Campus
  • “First Year” = Freshman
  • “Second Year” = Sophomore
  • “Third Year” = Junior
  • “Fourth Year” = Senior
  • “Wahoo” = Any UVA Student
  • “Corks & Curls” = The University Yearbook
  • “Lawnies” = Students Who Dorm on The Lawn
  • “The Corner” = The Strip of Shops and Restaurant on Central Grounds
  • “Academic Village” = Thomas Jefferson’s Philosophy of a Community where students and professors live together and create a learning environment.
  • “Rugby Road” = Filed on the other side of the Rotunda where all the Fraternity houses are located.

Distinguished Major and Study Abroad

The University of Virginia has some of the best undergraduate research and study abroad opportunities in the nation. Trying to do both will be hard but you should take advantage of at least one before you graduate.

Studying abroad is a life-changing experience and UVA offers a plethora of study abroad destination. The trips be can as short 2-3 weeks over the winter holiday or as long as a full semester abroad. Just take a quick look at the study abroad website to see the full selection of destinations and programs. A word of caution, however, taking a semester abroad is a wonderful experience but make sure that you don’t fall behind in studies. Not all the study abroad programs will offer the classes that you need to graduate.

On the other side of the specter is the distinguished major program which will usually ask you to spend more time on grounds. You’ll be required to do some kind of research project and publish a paper on your findings. Most students will spend a summer, or two, working on these project because you will quickly learn that it’s hard to juggle five classes and a research project.

There is more to Charlottesville than the School.

The University of Virginia is huge and there is so much to do there that it’s possible to never leave ground the entire time you’re there. The historical downtown is full of great shops and restaurants that are fun to explore when you need a break from studying. Take a walk through the Historic Downtown Mall on a sunny day or go to The Paramount Theater with a couple of friends. Some of the best college memories you’ll have are the ones you spent away from grounds.

Parking in the City is Horrible Though

If you do plan on visiting the downtown then be forewarned about the horrible parking situation. Some parts of the city are really old and there is a lack of parking space (even for paid parking). It’s better to carpool when going out or take advantage of the Free Trolly that will take you from Ground to Downtown and back.


The Professors Here Are Really Famous


When you’re signing up for classes take some time to look up your professors and see what they’ve done. They’ve published best-selling books, won awards, and held an influential position in business and politics. You might feel a bit intimidated talking to some of them, but your professors are a key tool to your success during and after college. Networking with them will open a lot of doors for you and mentioning that you took a class with a certain professor can open some doors for you in the future.