Day Two of the 2015 Virginia private colleges tour came early (the second day always seems to do that!) and found us bound for Danville, VA, home of Averett University and its nearly 1,000 undergraduate students. These individuals come from 25 different states and 19 countries so they can attend a small school with a “singular focus on student success” – the overarching theme of our visit.
Averett is an old school (not Hampden-Sydney old, but old enough, thank you) and has developed over time into an institution that cares not only about recruiting students to its campus, but keeping them there and turning them into educated, caring, and successful alumni. The uniqueness and importance of this mindset cannot be emphasized strongly enough, readers, because while many schools understand the value of this process and are even able to successfully accomplish it, very few articulate it as part of the actual recruiting process and fewer still can demonstrate it effectively to visitors.
Averett was able to do both.
A traditional liberal arts college at its core, Averett’s curriculum emphasizes problem-solving skills, writing and speaking, and working in teams, regardless of a student’s major. In addition, the Center for Community Engagement and Career Competitiveness (CCECC) links students and faculty to partners in the community for the purpose of internships, volunteerism, and community building across town and gown lines. This also enables students to put the lessons they learn in the classroom into practical application from their first year on campus.
As much of the college-going world has turned its focus to specific career training in the last decade, Averett has also evolved, adding some career-specific tracks to its major offerings, including an aeronautics program (their flight training center is just two miles from the main campus), a new nursing program, and – yes, equestrians, this one’s for you – an equestrian studies major that just added a concentration in equine-assisted psychotherapy. This unique program joins the horse people with the campus psychology department to help students understand the horse-human relationship and use it effectively in therapeutic settings.
In addition to the equestrian major, Averett also competes in the IHSA in hunt seat, in the IDA in dressage, and as a member of both the United States Eventing Association (USEA) intercollegiate program, as well as the American National Riding Commission (ANRC). (The equestrian studies major also offers concentrations in dressage and eventing if that’s your chosen career path after graduation.) The facilities are located just over the state line in Pelham, North Carolina (it’s closer than you think – Danville is nearly a part of North Carolina already) and are situated on 100 acres of land.