The second day of my Blue Ridge Counselor tour in Lynchburg, Virginia found me at Randolph College, an institution that went through a rebirth a few years ago and has emerged in impressive form. It’s no mean feat to turn a century-old women’s college into a thriving co-educational institution – and even more difficult to do so while continuing to maintain the culture and traditions that make a campus unique and special – but Randolph seems to have defied the odds.
Today, the former Randolph-Macon Women’s College has an enrollment of just under 1,000 students and the gender balance between men and women is approaching the national average for all colleges and universities (approximately 60 percent women and 40 percent men). Growth of the overall student body is ongoing and the school would ideally like to be 1,100 students or so to maintain small classes (average size is 12) and the personalized attention that each student receives.
Last year, the college completed a substantial renovation on their student center in Main Hall. Six million dollars – and a lot of careful planning and thought! – later, the new parts of the center blend seamlessly into the original bones of Main Hall and house not only comfortable places for students to sit and study, but also the Skeller Cafe and Main Grounds Coffee Shop, a fitness center, theatre space that is only available for student use (no classes can be taught there and professors cannot reserve the space for academic purposes), and a gaming floor with pool tables, ping pong, televisions for Wii and XBox, and computers designated specifically for gaming only.
The academic buildings have classrooms that are a mix of lecture and seminar-style, but it’s unique settings like Presser Hall (and Wimberly Recital Hall), where music students have wonderful opportunities to perform, and the Maier Museum of Art, where museum studies students can get hands-on experience while curating their own collections, that make Randolph an educational gold mine for the right student.
In addition, many of the women’s college traditions that were passed down throughout Randolph’s history have been passed onto its coeducational present and future and students build school spirit through friendly class competitions, such as the ongoing rivalries between even and odd class years (“Evens” have their own set of steps in Main Hall and “Odds” have the steps on the opposite side; both groups also have their own unique songs and traditions) and Ring Week, when first year students pitch in to help build the suspense and fun of the junior class receiving their class rings. (Not to be left out, Pumpkin Week is a similar week of events between the sophomore and senior classes.)
For riders, Randolph’s riding center is located a short way off campus and sits on a hilly 100 acres. Visitors can glimpse the expansive outdoor jumping ampitheatre as they pull up the driveway and the stable area and offices have a tremendous view of the Blue Ridge mountains. The stable can house 40 horses and 30 of those are the program’s school horses, who range from steady beginner mounts to more advanced hunter, jumper, and equitation veterans.
Like its neighbor, Sweet Briar College, Randolph competes in the IHSA and the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC). Off-site showing and shows hosted at the facility are also options that are available to students, either with their own horses or with one of the school horses. Also, an equine minor has been added to academic course offerings for the 2013-2014 school year, so students who wish to become professional horsemen and women have an opportunity to enhance their academic coursework.
Could Randolph College be the right place for you to spend four years? Contact me and let’s discuss!