Although it has been nearly 35 years since I graduated from UVA, I can confidently say that the four years that I spent on Grounds was the best time of my life. I was enrolled in a challenging and stimulating academic program and was active in many extracurricular activities. Prior to my first year, UVa was named as one of the top party schools in the country and I made a not insignificant personal contribution to upholding our school’s reputation! From my first year dorm, my fraternity, and my academic program, I made lifelong friends. And, of course, I met my wife at UVa.
However, if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have studied a bit less and left parties a little early, so that I could have explored some of the other hidden treasures at UVa. I would have spent more time wandering the art galleries in Bayly, watched more plays and musicals, and attended more lectures and readings. With the wealth of athletic facilities (which have only gotten better over time), I would have learned a new sport that is hard to pick up in the outside world (fencing, rowing, or squash — just to name a few!). And rather than using the study carrels at Clemons and Alderman to cram for exams or the occasional nap, I would have wandered the stacks and picked up a book that would have never appeared in any class or syllabus.
You only realize how special the college years are after you’ve left a place like UVa. For most, the obligations and responsibilities of career and family are still far in front of you. For four years, you have almost complete freedom to explore a place that holds almost infinite opportunities and experiences. Take a little time to make a few detours from studying (or partying) to explore some of the hidden treasures at UVa. I think you will be the better for it.