College Tour – Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania

Hi all. Well, last week was a whirlwind college tour. Little Miss High School and I road tripped it for a college tour of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania. It was a lot of driving but also a lot of fun so I thought I would share some of the details.

University of Virginia

Our first stop was Charlottesville, VA to visit the University of Virginia. This was about a seven hour drive from Connecticut. We arrived in the late afternoon which was perfect as we could explore Charlottesville and do our own informal walk around of UVA. We stayed a Hilton Hampton Inn which was brand new and perfect for us. I even hit the gym in the morning while Little Miss slept in.

Charlottesville is home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello which we also wanted to visit. Unfortunately given that we had to drive to North Carolina after the tour we did not have time. We did however see the beautiful home from afar where it is perched on the river. UVA is very historic and was Thomas Jefferson’s conception. He had attended William and Mary but apparently saw room for improvement (according to our guide). He thought students and professors should live together for constant learning. Here is a picture of the lovely area where even today students live and professors live next door. In each of these rooms, there is a list of all residents. One list even has Edgar Allen Poe on it as he attended for a semester.

UVA Grounds
UVA Grounds

“Grounds” as the campus is called is gorgeous and for a history buff like me heaven! So what did Little Miss think?

She loved it too. And as any teenager does, took plenty of photos.

She is also very into history and after a year of intense AP US History was gobbling up the background of this picturesque university. We walked around that evening and explored downtown Charlottesville which is a quintessential college town in the best way. The next morning we arrived for a fantastic tour. Our guide was upbeat, really engaging and clearly very smart. We liked that you apply to Arts and Science but then apply for business at a later date (which is her interest). UVA also has D1 sports (my Little Miss is a sports fan), Greek life (35% though so plenty of students not involved if that is not your thing) and hundreds of clubs. The academics are stellar and of course it is very selective especially out of state. After a trip to the bookstore (Cavalier sweatshirt in tow), we headed to UNC Chapel Hill.

UNC Chapel Hill, Elon and Wake Forest

We drove about 3.5 hours from UVA to UNC Chapel Hill. The drive takes you through rural Virginia and North Carolina but was pleasant enough (Little Miss practiced her driving). I would recommend packing a sandwich or stopping in Charlottesville first (we ended up with fast food which is not my preference but was the only quick option).

UNC and Chapel Hill are beautiful. We did not have a formal tour though so we walked around on our own. Little Miss thought it may be a tad too large and spread out. She will do some more research. They also have great sports (basketball especially), a lovely town and excellent academics.

We then headed to Winston-Salem which is about an hour from UNC Chapel Hill. Much to our surprise, Elon University was right on the way so we decided to stop. Elon has a beautiful campus. We know many kids that attend, and it is especially popular in the Northeast. Brian Williams and his son put it on the map with communications. Little Miss liked the campus too. I think it will be on her list.

That evening we had reservations at the Wyndham in Winston-Salem which is called the historic Brookstown Inn and dates back to 1837. This hotel is actually on the national register of historic hotels, and it was adorable! Exposed brick, period furniture and very spacious rooms all at a reasonable, Wyndham price. We loved the warm cookies and milk served at night too. Little Miss and I headed to Willow (an easy walk) for dinner for tasty salads (to offset those cookies which came later!). The area is very charming and historic Salem is not too far either. The hotel is about fifteen minutes from Wake Forest University.

In the morning, after a traditional Southern breakfast (gravy, biscuits, eggs etc.) we headed to Wake Forest University for a formal tour. Wake Forest, founded in 1834, is lovely and in a very nice area with spacious homes and lots of beautiful greenery. Our tour guide was energetic and warm. It was hot though (note to tour guides…please bring your groups into the shade!).

Wake also has an excellent business school and again, you can apply after being admitted which is a plus (some schools you have to apply directly for business). Wake has about 60% in Greek life so that seems to be something you have to want to do (or be comfortable not doing but know that it is a big part of life for many students). The school is very well take care of and the buildings were gorgeous. Post tour we visited the business school which is brand new and impressive. We picked up an Einstein’s bagel sandwich for our road trip to College Park Maryland which is about four hours away. Little Miss is adding this one to the list for certain.

U. Maryland, Lehigh University and Villanova

Our trip to College Park took us through DC which was fun. We drove past the White House and other major buildings. On the other side of DC is College Park where the University of Maryland resides. Frankly, this one was just too big for Little Miss but if you are interested in a large school this may be the right one for you. The next day we were up early to hit Pennsylvania with a first stop at Lehigh.

Lehigh University is in Bethlehem, PA and is comprised of some lovely stone buildings on a hill. We would like to see town when the students are there as it was a little sleepy mid summer. We had lunch at a coffee bar, and then headed to Villanova University for a tour. Villanova is also a beautiful campus right outside of Philadelphia. Our tour guide led us around campus and shared some of the interesting facts such as every student takes a mission trip funded by an alum. When students become alums, they fund another student’s trip. Villanova has several schools. You can transfer to business although apparently it is difficult once enrolled as you will need to catch up. There is some Greek life too which is unusual for a Catholic university.

Exhausted and full of college facts, we headed back home through torrential down pours. Fortunately I know New York well enough to take the major highways as many of the smaller ones were flooded. Next up will be a tour of my alma mater, Boston College. Hopefully you have enjoyed this little peak into a college tour of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Stay tuned!