By late September, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are usually beginning to show their colors. Although warmer-than-usual weather conditions slowed the process this year, colleges located in this corner of the Commonwealth have been enjoying spectacular, almost spring-like conditions late into the fall.
Last week, 48 school and independent college counselors benefitted from the unseasonable weather during whirlwind visits to seven private colleges on a tour sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV).
Because Virginia’s private institutions sometimes get overshadowed by Commonwealth’s more high-profile public schools, this was a fantastic opportunity for counselors to get acquainted with Virginia’s smaller and very affordable private colleges.
Here is a little of what they learned:
Located in historic Salem, Virginia—about ten minutes from the city of Roanoke—Roanoke College currently enrolls a little over 2000 full time undergrads on its picturesque 80-acre campus. In addition to an honors program targeted to students who excel academically and have strong leadership skills, Roanoke offers extensive undergraduate research opportunities including the Summer Scholars program and the Undergraduate Research Assistants program. Roanoke also offers a number of pre-professional programs as well as a dual-degree engineering program with Virginia Tech.
Founded in 1842 as Virginia’s first chartered women’s college, Hollins University offers a challenging liberal arts program with 26 majors and certificates in arts management and leadership studies. In 2002, Hollins created the Batten Leadership Institute (BLI) to support leadership development among women through innovative training opportunities. Hollins also recognizes academic achievement and leadership potential through its Batten Scholar program, which offers four-year full-tuition awards as well as a number of outstanding leadership opportunities.
Washington and Lee University
Opened this fall, Washington and Lee’s new Integrative and Quantitative (IQ) Center houses the very latest in technology and offers undergrads hands-on experience with equipment they might not ordinarily see, let alone use, until they’re in graduate school. The new facility includes a stereo 3D lab, a computer visualization lab, a light microscopy suite, and various high-end specialized scanning and electron microscopes. Across campus, WLU’s brand new LEED-certified Hillel House is home to the E Café, which serves both Kosher and vegetarian dishes. On the academics side, WLU is the only liberal arts college in Virginia with an accredited business school and boasts of the oldest journalism school in the country (founded by Robert E. Lee).
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
An affiliate of Carilion Clinic, Jefferson College of Health Sciences (JCHS) is one of few private professional health sciences colleges in the region and offers bachelor degrees in biomedical sciences, emergency service, health and exercise science, health sciences, healthcare management, health psychology, nursing and respiratory therapy. Graduate programs are available in nursing, occupational therapy, physician assistant, and health care administration.
Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, Ferrum College is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding. Ferrum offers 33 areas of study ranging from business and environmental science to teacher certification and criminal justice. Ferrum also offers one of only two horticulture BS degrees available in the Commonwealth (the other at a VERY large state institution) and uses its nearly 800-acre campus as the program’s outdoor classroom. Campus gardens include an arboretum and two greenhouses. For prospective students, the new Ferrum Freshman Scholars Program is designed to establish a community of first-year undergrads and faculty researchers who mentor up to 2 students on a scholarly research project before they enroll in fall semester courses.
Bluefield is a faith-based Christian college located in the furthest corner of southwestern Virginia. In fact, Bluefield’s baseball diamond straddles two states: first and second bases are in West Virginia while third base and home are in Virginia. And the Bluefield mascot not only received a new look but a new name as well—Victor E. Ram. Among the more specialized majors available at Bluefield are Christian Drama, Christian Studies, Communications, Criminal Justice, Exercise and Sport Science, Forensic Science, Graphic Communication, and Theatre Arts. Youth Ministry is offered as a minor and Church Music is available as a concentration.
Emory and Henry College
According to measurements of student satisfaction by the Student satisfaction Inventory (SSI), Emory & Henry students rate their college well above the national average for 4-year institutions in quality of the instruction they receive and the effectiveness of their academic advisors. At the same time, student engagement is far higher at EHC than at most other institutions of higher education as measured by the National Survey of Student Engagement. EHC offers a variety of merit scholarships and need-based grants, so that about 98% of all students receive financial aid and 84% receive need-based aid. The average award to incoming first-year students including only grants and scholarships is $18,000. EHC currently offers graduate programs in American History (M.A.ED.), Professional Studies (M.ED), Reading Specialist (M.A.ED) and will be offering a new Doctor of Physical Therapy and a 5-yer BA/MS in Community and Organizational Leadership. New construction on campus includes several new residence halls as well as a new field house being built to achieve LEED Silver Certification.
Virginia Intermont College
Virginia Intermont’s nationally-recognized equine studies and competitive riding program educates future horsemen and women who will contribute to the equine industry in many different ways from teaching and schooling to horse show and stable management. VI’s gorgeous 120-acre riding center has indoor and outdoor arenas as well as a cross-country course. In addition, VI offers one of very few programs in Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning supporting professionals who provide equine-assisted psychotherapy. Only two other colleges in the country offer Equine-Assisted Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA)-certified educational opportunities