Higher Learning in the Heart of Virginia


I love watching big yellow school buses drive by. I cannot wait to put on a backpack and go to school! Sometimes in the fall and spring we have guests coming to leave their kids or pick them up from big schools called college. Mama says we have quite a few of those big schools around here and it’s nice to meet parents whose kids are coming to study all kinds of different things. Some of them play sports at school too, like soccer or lacrosse. I like to hear about the games they play. One day, I hope I will go to one of those big schools…and I know Mama hopes I will stay close by. At least I have some good choices from which to choose!

If you like history, the Heart of Virginia is a great place to find it. Think of this…a college so old it once existed under the British flag. Hampden-Sydney College¬†was the last college to be opened before the American Revolution, the tenth oldest in the country. James Madison, Patrick Henry and other early patriots sat on its first Board of Trustees. Since opening for class in the fall of 1775 in Farmville, classes have only been cancelled six times. It was named after two English champions of liberty, John Hampden and Algernon Sydney, who were much-admired by the founders of the school.

Today, HSC has about 1100 students enrolled at the men’s only liberal arts college, which has grown to 1300 acres. They follow a strict honor code enforced by fellow students and are issued books of etiquette to help them learn proper conduct. Over forty student-run clubs exist and their long-standing athletic rivalry with Randolf-Macon College includes one of the most anticipated events of the year….”the game”.

Longwood University¬†began as a women’s seminary in 1839. It is the third oldest public university in Virginia, also located in Farmville. With three separate colleges now established, the Arts & Sciences remains the largest due to the school’s roots in teaching education. Also surrounded by rich history, Longwood saw both General Lee’s and General Grant’s marches through town to Appomattox at the end of the Civil War.

Since becoming a university in 2002, the school has expanded to over 100 programs of study on its 154 acre campus, educating about 5100 students per year. It offers various studies abroad, exchange programs and has a partnership with Yellowstone National Park to educate students about the challenges there. While tuition around the country rises exponentially, Longwood is noted for keeping its increases low. Besides its regular student organizations, it has two secret societies and what some call a mysterious protection from the two statues of Joan of Arc on campus. The Longwood Lancers teams compete at Division 1 levels, mostly in the Big South Conference.

Comparatively, the new game in town would be Liberty University, but my how she’s grown! Founded in 1971 by Jerry Falwell, Liberty boasts 15,000 resident students and over 100,000 more online….with more plans for expansion. It is a private, non-profit Christian school in Lynchburg. It offers 522 programs of study including graduate and doctoral courses. The school has over 100 clubs, overseen by teachers. It is well-known for attracting famous speakers to commencement and weekly convocations from A-list actors and musicians to U.S. Presidents and other politicians from both sides of the aisle. Their Liberty Flames teams also compete at Division 1 levels, mostly in the Big South Conference.

There are several others nearby including a campus of Central Virginia Community College right here in town. Check out our attractions page to see a full list. If you are planning a visit, consider staying with us…but don’t wait to book! College weekends fill up early…we already have one room booked for 2018 graduation.

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