For many years now, college-bound equestrians have recognized the name of Virginia Intermont College as the home of one of the most successful intercollegiate equestrian programs in both the IHSA and IDA. And when the first stop on our campus visit took us right up to the riding center, it was easy to see that VIC is a school that embraces its equestrian traditions wholeheartedly.
(Also worth noting: The school’s equestrian teams have won so many awards that they have maxed out their display space at the riding center and have moved the remainder to the dining hall walls. Now that’s a lot of awards!)
It must also be noted that VIC has been in the news lately – both through higher educational news services and through equestrian media outlets – because of issues regarding their accreditation and because they recently experienced a major transition in their equestrian staff with the departure of their longtime director. Discussions of accreditation and staff transitions tend to be a part of the everyday life of every college and university, but I would be remiss not to mention that VIC’s recent circumstances have warranted concern from many involved in higher education, collegiate equestrian, and from parents, students, and alumni.
It was made clear to the counselors on our tour that VIC is fully open for business and is pursuing several avenues regarding accreditation that will allow it to remain open for many years to come. In addition, the VIC equestrian program continues to compete as before. The goal of the rest of this blog entry, then, is to outline specifically what we learned during our time on campus and not pass judgment on circumstances which lay outside of my control.
The word “intermont” in the college’s name literally translates to “among the mountains,” and that’s a fair description of the college’s campus. This setting provides an excellent (and picturesque!) locale for the equestrian program, including lots of riding and hacking space and turnout for the horses. On the main campus too, the views are beautiful and the red brick buildings speak to the school’s history.
Longtime readers of my blog will know that I judge college university equestrian programs on the quality of care that their school horses receive and, after meeting many of the equine residents of the VIC riding center, I’m pleased to report that everyone was glossy and fit. What’s more, every single horse in the barn stuck its head over its half-door to greet our group – talk about southern hospitality!
VIC is a very small school – just over 400 undergraduates attend currently – but for some students, that tiny size has the potential be a great fit for their needs. In particular, it gives tremendous access to faculty and staff when students need support and makes the entire campus feel like a small, insular community – and more than that, a family. (Boarding school students – if you want to continue in an environment like the one you’re currently accustomed to, this is the type of school that can give that to you.)
VIC also has a noted arts program and we were treated to a thorough tour of their gallery facilities. (Want to be an equine photographer? That’s one of the popular programs on campus!) Also, if your interests are in equine-assisted therapy, they have an EAGALA certified program to train you – one of only two colleges in the U.S. who hold this certification! Also strong are the equine and theatre programs, as well as social work, which has ties with graduate-level institutions to send students directly into Masters programs after graduation.
Could a small school like VIC be a good fit for your next four years? Contact me and we’ll find out!