Going to college can be an enriching, life changing experience. Going to college in an urban area where the state capitol is surrounded by the college, with the college still expanding, can be slightly overwhelming. With a student body well over 30,000 people, many of them commuter students, Virginia Commonwealth University has a largely diverse population of students from varying backgrounds. One of the pluses of the University is the population of students. With many hailing from outside of Virginia, it gives current students an enriching experience they will not find in the classrooms.
If I had one piece of advice to give to prospective students, it would be that the college is harder to get into than it used to be. In early 2000 and the years that followed, it had a reputation that the admissions office accepted everyone and you could not be denied admission to the University. That was untrue then, and it is certainly untrue now. Admissions requirements have tightened up since I was a student three years ago. This holds especially true for the medical classes. Students interested in attending the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University have stricter admission requirements than if a prospective student is looking to take classes on the academic, also known as the Monroe Park, campus.
The academic campus spans a large portion of the City of Richmond. In the center of the University is Monroe Park, where students can be found studying or relaxing on nice days.
I lived off campus my entire time at the University. There are not enough dorms to house all of the students, even all of the incoming freshmen class. One nice thing about the dorms is that they all became smoke free as of August 1st, 2010. Dorms are drawn by lottery (and the housing lottery for the Spring 2011 has already passed. It started on November 5 th at 12 noon), some freshmen end up staying at a dorm on the Medical College campus, which is about a 10 minute drive away. For students in that dorm, a shuttle service is provided to and from the academic campus. For students who do live in dorms, they will still have a walk to classes, being that the University spans such a large area. There are
As far as food goes, there is a plethora of restaurants, as well as several dining hall options. As the University continues to expand, so do the retail stores and restaurants around the University. Some student favorites are Extreme Pizza, Five Guys and Qdoba .
Since the campus spans such a large portion of the city, many students choose to get around campus by bike. It is in a well-populated urban area; so locking up your bike is a must. In addition to biking around campus, students can take advantage of the Franklin Street and/or Cary Street gyms. With a variety of group workout classes and the occasional certification classes to work towards becoming an aerobics instructor, teaching the popular Spinning classes, or yoga and Pilates , the gyms are some of the best in the River City.
In addition to the gyms, the school also offers a variety of Intramural Sports, including but not limited to tennis, racquetball, basketball, soccer and street hockey. The University also offers an Outdoor Adventure Club, where they are able to provide fun, low cost outdoor activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing and bouldering (on an indoor rock climbing wall), rock climbing near the James River, canoeing , caving, backpacking, hiking and skiing. The Outdoor Adventure Club also offers an opportunity to become an Outdoor Adventure guide, where students learn skills such as first aid, wilderness medicine, outdoor leadership, group team building, ethics and more.
With a wide range of academic majors and minors, as well as unlimited student activities, life at Virginia Commonwealth University is never boring. If you are a prospective student, submit your application early and take a tour of the campus. Current students, enjoy the time you have left at the school.