Application deadlines are approaching for the colleges our son wants to apply to. One of those is the University of Virginia (UVA), about two and a half hours from where we live. We did not arrange anything official, we just drove to campus, parked, found a map, and walked around. He wanted to see what it’s like so that he could have an experience to anchor to whenever he thinks about the school.
We lucked into visiting on a gorgeous October Saturday under a crisp blue sky. There wasn’t football game this weekend, thankfully, but campus was still lively. And beautiful. UVA is a little over 200 years old, so the oaks, maples, and magnolias are stately and mature. Their crowns create deep, cool shade, and build natural barriers to sight and sound so that campus is filled with quiet, green alcoves. The vegetation is lush, with ivy climbing red brick; azaleas and vincas fill beds along sidewalks and in courtyards.
We visited the Rotunda, designed by Thomas Jefferson and modeled after the Pantheon in Rome. We also visited the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, conceived in 2010 and completed in 2020, to honor the enslaved people who built and served at the university, and to ensure they are not forgotten. UVA, like the United States itself, has a complicated and oppressive history, and we were glad to see that confronted and acknowledged on campus.
After walking around old campus and downtown, we found the engineering section of campus and went inside the computer science building. It looks like the inside of most college buildings; hallways, classrooms. The bathroom was lovely with a window that poured sunlight in, and that looked out over a courtyard.
The leaves hadn’t started changing yet. All of the vegetation was still a deep green. I bet it will be gorgeous in its autumn dress in just a couple of weeks.
Our son liked the campus. I like that it’s not far from home.