Spending the summer in Charlottesville while most of the students are away has shown me the quiet, slow-paced side of what is normally an extremely energetic and lively school environment.While it has been a relaxing break, I will say that one of my favorite things about this school is the number of activities and events going on all the time—whether you're looking to get involved in club sports, salsa dancing, trips abroad, greek life, or one of the many philanthropic organizations on grounds.
We have over 700 C.I.O.s at UVA which stands for Contracted Independent Organizations. These groups are contracted under the Student Council—which allocates over 600,000 dollars to students activities each year—but the key word there is independent. With student self governance as a central part of the UVA experience, all of the organizations on grounds give students the power and the resources to truly take charge of their college experience, and get done whatever it is they are looking to do.
|Student Volunteers at the annual Pancakes for Parkinson's event|
If you don't find the club or activity that you're looking to join, UVA makes it extremely easy to create your own C.I.O. (and will even give you the funds you need to get started). One of the stories we love to tell as tour guides is about a student who came to UVA in 2004. She responded to the essay prompt "What is your favorite word and why?" and wrote all about pancakes. In this essay she promised that if admitted to UVA, she would start an organization having something to do with pancakes. Today, that group is Pancakes for Parkinson's, one of our largest philanthropic groups on grounds. One day each fall the lawn is lined with griddles, and for a one time donation you get all you can eat pancakes for as long as you are willing to sit on the lawn and eat them. Over the past six years, Pancakes has raised over $150,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's.
As a highly selective school the University of Virginia certainly draws a student body that is extremely academically driven and serious about their studies. But there is also something about the average UVA student that leads him or her to seek a well rounded college experience—balancing academics with a number of exciting and meaningful activities outside of the classroom.
photo credit: http://www.student.virginia.edu/pancakes/index.html