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Although most students would fail to identify with it, the real name of ‘VirginiaTech’ is Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. It’s a public ‘land-grant’ university in Blacksburg, Virginia, and has been one of the top universities in the country ever since its inauguration in 1872. VirginiaTech is one of the most sought after colleges around, especially for students pursuing a Masters in branches like Mechanical, Civil, and Aerospace Engineering. Getting in is extremely difficult though – every year the average undergrad GPA increases, and the number of applications shoots up some more.
A common complaint about VirginiaTech is that, well, it doesn’t have much of a location. In spite of the massive student population, Blacksburg is a tiny town, with not much to do at all. The size and location of the place makes students wonder if they’re in the middle of nowhere. Christiansburg is the closest major city nearby, though students hailing from bigger cities often question its ‘major-ness’. But you eventually take a liking to the place, we’ve been told. An added advantage, of course, is the fact that Blacksburg is pretty safe, and you can move about freely.
The beautiful campus is spread across 2600 acres of land. From the outside, VirginiaTech can tend to look quite antique. In a good way, of course. Many of the buildings at the institute look like massive, imposing castles and you’ll often find students being quite overwhelmed by them on day one itself. From the inside, though, the buildings are absolutely state-of-the-art, with world class equipments in brilliantly designed laboratories and lecture halls. The libraries are fantastic as well, containing over 4 million volumes between them.
The college has all sorts of facilities for all kinds of sports and recreation. Students can often be found hanging out at the Squire’s Student Central, or the coffee shops called Deet’s and GBJ Café.
As for accommodation, many students choose to live off-campus, because it affords you more space, comfort and privacy. Some of the popular student apartment destinations are at Foxridge, Pheasant Run, and The Village, and you can get yourself fixed up with a nice place for about $700-$800 per month. Most of these places are within walking distance from the campus, and if you don’t like a walk, you could always use a bike, or use the brilliantly connected bus service.
Well, it’s pretty bad. Blacksburg experiences terribly unpredictable weather; students say that you often experience all four seasons on the same day! Students dress in layers, because the weather can change drastically from morning to afternoon. Winters are biting cold, though you rarely experience very heavy snowfall. Summers are warmer, but nights are pretty cold. It rains almost throughout the year, and is extremely unpredictable, so you should probably be carrying your raincoat around.
VirginiaTech is known for its academics, more than anything else. Anyone who knows will tell you that VTech is one of the best institutes in terms of professors and pedagogy. Even though the professors can be slightly hard to approach at times (because research work takes up a major chunk of their time), students vouch that they are nice enough to give you a few minutes if you ever need help.
Being a public university, they tend to be slightly generous with scholarships. But you need to earn them, of course, which means you need to be really really good. Alternatively, you could quite easily get Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships.
The career centre is extremely helpful, and most students (especially engineering grads) get placed in impressive companies with excellent job profiles, and packages to match. Not bad, eh?
There’s a surprisingly high number of ‘lookers’ at VirginiaTech, considering that this is a school known mainly for its engineering programs. People are pretty friendly, especially with members of the opposite sex, and it’s perfectly normal to see inter-race and inter-nationality mixing. Although the engineering school is dominated by males (naturally), there are a lot of pretty girls in other courses, and cross-course bonding is quite common, so that’s not really a problem.
Campus life is pretty good. Students are very passionate about their sports teams, and fortunately VirginiaTech has excellent infrastructure in place for sports. Although there are a number of popular bars and restaurants outside campus, many students prefer hanging out in the dorms or at home. You can always find a party to go to regardless of how boring you might be, such is the diversity at VirginiaTech.
An excellent university with a brilliant history, VirginiaTech should be in your top 5 if you plan to do a Masters in Mechanical, Civil or Aerospace Engineering, and just Slightly lower if you plan to do anything else.