Aug 2, 2010

Virginia Campuses Roll Out the Red Carpet for Private College Week

From chilled drinks and platters of cookies to flowers on the tables, Virginia’s private colleges and universities rolled out the red carpet for hundreds of high school students touring during Private College Week.

“So far, I’ve visited Shenandoah and Marymount,” explained one local senior whose mother and five-year old brother came along on both trips. “I’m resting tomorrow but then we’re driving down to Washington and Lee.”

Starting early Monday morning, scores of prospective college students and their families traveled from one corner of the Commonwealth to the other. They were treated to special presentations as well as a few t-shirts and souvenirs.

Following my own advice, I visited three private colleges. The weather was perfect for walking tours and the enthusiastic welcome from staff and students made the trips worthwhile. In
addition to basic facts and figures, here is a little of what I learned:

• Taking time from his busy calendar as the new president of Bridgewater College, George Cornelius addressed college “fit” and the many advantages of a liberal arts degree, in remarks directed to Private College Week visitors. Bridgewater has grown enormously over the past ten years and is rapidly moving toward the goal of enrolling 1800 undergraduates on a 300-acre campus located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. Organized as a “residential” college, Bridgewater offers an innovative Personal Development Portfolio (PDP) program along with glamorous new facilities, including an Equestrian Center housing an equine studies minor.

Marymount University is a hidden gem located in Arlington, Virginia—just over the Potomac and five subway stops from the nation’s capital. In October, Marymount will open an amazing new $50 million mixed-use facility housing a suite-style residence hall, an academic building with state-of-the-art science and health science (nursing) laboratories, four levels of underground parking, and beautiful outdoor gathering spaces. To sweeten the deal, substantial scholarships are available for strong “B” students applying with high school averages starting at 2.8 or better.

• The Conservatory at Shenandoah University boasts a faculty of more than 100 professionals in music, theatre and dance and an alumni base that includes performers from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe. Majors include costume design, music recording & technology, dance education, church music, music therapy, and theatre for youth—to name a few. Located 70 miles west of Washington, DC, Shenandoah was on this year’s USNWR list of top up-and-coming schools and ranked among the best master’s level institutions in the south region.

Of course, there’s much more to tell about each these schools, but I wanted to provide a taste of the variety and depth of Virginia’s private college system. Supported by such programs as the Virginia Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) and the availability of merit and need-based financial aid, independent colleges offer quality education at an affordable cost.

To cap my experience, I’m running out to the mailbox to mail my completed “passport” back to the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) to receive my three FREE application fee waivers. Sweet!

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