If there's one thing that most helps people give better advice, it's having perspective. As a student who has gone to one school for undergraduate, I really wasn't certain what was standard and what was UVa-specific. Sure, I know the things that I love and appreciate on Grounds, but I still wouldn't say that I know what is mostly common; however, as I'm doing research at another institution this summer, I'm getting a very good view of some key differences from talking with students at the other college. These discussions in mind, I want to discuss a few things that I had simply taken for granted.
Free student entry to sporting events
I did not come to college as an avid sports fan, but two years in and I regularly attend football, basketball, and lacrosse. The atmosphere is quite exhilarating. The band chants and cheers, the crowd gasps and cheers in synch. It's just a fun pastime that I hadn't expected to be as fun as it is. Moreover, because the matches are free, the only limiting factor is time; no one has to go get a part time job just to get to see the games.
Free Bus and trolley usage for students and non-students alike
I was shocked when I was at my current summer school and the bus driver asked for money. Wait, people pay for buses and trolleys? Whoa. I should've guessed that, I suppose; that's how it works in non college towns, but I just didn't expect it. UVa has spoiled me. I've never shown a bus pass or id before because no one pays for rides.
A Twenty-Four Hour Library (complete with printers)
Technology has this unfortunate quality that the chances that it will break are directly proportional to how badly you need it (i.e., it breaks at the worst times possible). To Incoming First Years, a note: we have fantastic libraries; use them.
And a few other things I love having:
- Free Gym Membership for enrolled undergrads
- Guaranteed Housing for All Four Years (so long as the student stays on Grounds the entire time)
- Having Multiple Dining Halls to Choose From on Any Given Night
- Pedestrian Friendly Areas Complete with Lit Crosswalks, Bright Lamps, and Sidewalks