Small Public Colleges in VA -- UVA College at Wise/Longwood - Reviews/Opinions?

Gathering together a list of small public colleges in VA. Just wondering of any reviews/opinions out there for UVA College at Wise?

We are also looking at Longwood, Radford and Christopher Newport…

Starting with public for now…just getting feet wet.


UVA-Wise is located in the coal mining area of Southwest VA. There’s not much in the surrounding area, although it isn’t far from the restaurant where Liz Taylor choked on a chicken bone. It has probably done a good job educating students in an economically depressed area, but I can’t imagine there’s anything to attract students from outside the region.

How about University of Mary Washington? At 4,400 undergrads, it’s about the size of Longwood and Christopher Newport, and Fredericksburg seems like it’s probably a nice town to go to school in.

I’ve started at looking at these for my son. (My daughter, now at UVa, wasn’t interested in any small schools.) My impression is that CNU, UMW, and Longwood might be ranked in that order in general, but it’s really close enough that personal fit and what programs they have would be the main deciding factors. My cousin, for example, went to CNU in theater and was very happy with that program.

Radford isn’t that small at 8,500 undergrads, and isn’t near anything other than Virginia Tech. But my impression is that they have a pretty positive atmosphere (especially after an NCAA tournament win this week). It might be good for someone who doesn’t want a large school like James Madison or VCU, doesn’t mind not being near any city, and likes their atmosphere after visiting.

@Wilson98 - thanks. Almost forgot about UMW - will add to the list…although their in-state tuition is about $28K…wouldn’t care if not for fact that I have B/G twins. Neither of whom are likely to receive merit-based aid and will not likely qualify for much if any financial aid. My son I think would prefer larger schools…so looking into Va. Tech, etc., but he’ll likely tag along to smaller school visits just like my daughter will likely tag along to larger school visits - who knows maybe she’ll like the larger schools and he will end up liking the smaller ones?

Will all three be in college at the same time? Have you made your financial limits clear to them? If the twins are most likely headed to VA publics, a useful back up for one or both cpuld be your local CC and following the guaranteed transfer pathway there. So investigate those options too.

@happymomof1 I should have been more clear…I only have two kids…B/G twins…and yes we are looking at CC/transfer…but I personally believe that moving away from home and living “on campus” is also part of the college experience/life. Local CC would mean each kid would have to have their own car. Also, we live in NOVA…the traffic is just awful and not just during rush hour any more…living at home and driving to/from class on the 495 beltway/clogged back up roads…I just worry that they would end up taking fewer classes and just skip classes rather than deal with traffic every day. The point of CC would not just be to save money…it would be to earn an AA/AS in 2 yrs and then transfer via guaranteed admission.

Also, my daughter especially wants to move away from home and have the “campus living environment”. We were actually looking at the Richard Bland College which is the only 2-yr college with campus housing…but it’s not cheap and total costs ends up being comparable to a public 4-yr.

@scoutmom2002 - I’m across the river from you in MD, and I totally get the desire to keep uour kids off of I-95! Happykid was able to commute to Montgomery College in Rockville by bus. A neighbor’s daughter did commute to one of the NOVA campuses from Rockville for a specific program not available at MC entirely by public transit, but I think you have to be really commited to survive that commute for two years!

@happymomof1 – that’s my worry…the required commitment to survive the commute…and let’s not even talk about during bad weather. I think I’d rather ship my kids off to college campus (with no car during freshman year). As for saving money…if you add in cost of two cars + insurance, gas, maintenance…probably easier to just pay for campus housing :wink:

@happymomof1 - I’ll add one more thing…the public transportation system in our area I’m sorry to say is the pits…for example, I just GPS’d going from home (McLean, VA) to NVCC Annandale campus using public transportation departing around 8am…the total commute time one-way came to 1 hour and 24 minutes!!! and includes over 80 stops. That’s crazy! So, no…public transportation is unfortunately not an option.

Can you provide their stats?
Overall, I’d recommend Longwood over Wise, which is very isolated. Farmville is rural (small towns around, plus probably 1h30 to Richmond, 1H to Lynchburg) but Wise has nothing even like its environment, being in the mountains.
Wise’s score range starts in the low 800s, Longwood is about 100 above that, and has more, higher top scorers.
CNU (and presidential leadership academy) and UMW are worth a look too, especially if you’re looking for merit.

PSAT scores (with no prep/tutoring)…960 for D. Based on comments and research I think I’m taking Wise off the list at least for now. I think Longwood, Radford and UMW are good…CNU might actually be a reach. We’ve discussed Richard Bland College being the safety school where if she gets rejected from where she really wants to go she could go there and transfer via guaranteed admission. NVCC would be last resort only because she doesn’t want to live at home.

She can prep and probably get that to 1050.
UMW is test optional BTW, students are admitted (and are eligible for merit) based on GPA + strength of curriculum.
Look into the test optional colleges, too.

My oldest DD was solid B+ student from a very good public high school. She graduated in 4 years from Radford with a double major in Marketing and Management and had a fantastic time. Being a solid student at a school not surrounded by super stars allowed her options for leadership and professor connections that she would not have gotten anywhere else. The town of Radford is nothing special but the campus is beautiful and the surrounding area is remarkable if you like views and outdoor life. Nothing beats the Virginia mountains and river in the fall. Having said that, city kids often miss being close to everything in terms of shopping, restaurants, and so forth.

My youngest DD is a sophomore at Mary Washington and having a blast. She’s a varsity athlete, psych major in the 5 year master’s of education program and couldn’t be happier. She’s developed great relationships with her professors, has loved the small class sizes and become very involved on campus. Fredericksburg is a fun little town and my child only complains about the traffic about once a month. But then again, we live in Blacksburg and she’s used to small town except when Virginia Tech plays football so traffic in Fredericksburg drives her crazy. She knew she didn’t want a big school and UMW was the perfect fit.

@NRVMOM - thanks!! I also know a graduate from Radford and hear all good things…my daughter did surprise me though when she added she’d like to go to a school with football :-0 – considering she hates all things sports related that shocked me…but I suppose it’s more the social aspect of going to football games. We have Radford and UMW on the list as well as Longwood, VCU, ODU and Christopher Newport. We are blessed with many good public universities in VA. We plan to visit/tour small/medium in more rural areas (Radford, Longwood) as well as larger in more city areas (VCU, ODU, Christopher Newport). As with everything there are pros/cons with both rural/city choices and small/large college choices. Regardless of where she ends up going…my plan is this…choice will be hers in the end and if she decides her choice was wrong that’s ok…she can transfer after 1 year and go elsewhere…it’s where you finish not where you start. My only caveat will be that she finish in 4 yrs…even if she has to do summer school at local CC.