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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Describe the students at your school.

The students at Virginia Tech cannot be described in one fell swoop because of the immense diversity. The students do tend to stay comfortable and stay with the people they’re most familiar with. The main groups of students are the jocks, fraternities, sororities, engineers, Virginia students, international, architecture, and religious groups. Although there are many groups and within those, types of people, there are plenty of clubs, organizations, and activities to go to where students can feel comfortable and become associated with other students. Being renowned for its engineering, Virginia Tech is ironically stuffed with engineering students. These students periodically see broad daylight as they are consumed with their studies and spend much of their time staring at their computer and calculator in wonder. It is a coined joke to assume that any person who is socially awkward is most likely an engineer because they hardly have to opportunity to talk to others. The international students tend to stick together, spending time alongside those who understand their culture and speak their primary language. Most international students are very focused on doing well on their academics. Of any group of students that may feel place at this school it would be them, not because of Virginia Tech itself, but simply because of the different culture. That is not to say that aren't ways of integrating the international students with others. I have gotten involved with a group called "Bridges" in which English speaking students receive an international student as a "language partner" and they meet periodically for lunch to practice their English and have any questions they have answered, getting them further integrated with a different culture. There is a very active student body at Virginia Tech as students pursue their passions inside and outside their classes. With the abundant clubs and organizations students can easily become involved with groups that support what they are passionate about. Whether it is for sports, academics, literally any sort of hobby there is most likely a club. With a desire to be able to leave college and earn money students are regularly interested in finding a "good" job. It is emphasized that students should pursue internships and companies frequently visit to propose working for their company during job expos. As for most students being at Virginia Tech it is their first time on their own much of the student body is willing to pursue all sorts of activities to see what they are passionate about. I have been able to take a class in which I worked with refugees in Roanoke (whom I still visit) and tutor kids at a local high school. I frequently hike the beautiful trails that are only a few minutes from campus. I also am affiliated campus ministries such as Cru and Intervarsity, which are groups in which I learn more about my faith.

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Though quite motivated, Virginia Tech is not incredibly diverse. The school is predominantly white, and most of the students come from either the metropolitan DC area or Virginia Beach area. There are many churches and chapels for Christians but the other religious groups have a limited choice of one or two temples, mosques, or other places of worship. When forming groups of friends, I feel like many of the ethnic backgrounds tend to stick together. Although somewhat segregated with the groups of friends, I have never witnessed a case of racism at Virginia Tech. There seems to be a general tolerance of people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and income brackets. Since many of the students come from the wealthy northern Virginia area, the students are generally upper middle class. If there were four tables of students in the dining hall, three of those tables would contain all people in the upper middle class. The other table would likely be the jocks who came to Virginia Tech from somewhere other than northern Virginia on a scholarship. They will surely have a VT sports shirt on. The three tables would consist of a table of white engineers, a table of asian engineers, and a table of white cadets, sporting their colors. There are a fair number of cadets, Virginia Tech being one of only two universities with a full Corps of Cadets. These cadets tend to be Republicans, with the rest of the school mainly democrats or ideologically minded libertarians. The only people who really wouldn’t fit in Blacksburg are those who can’t do without big city amenities as Blacksburg is far away from anything resembling a big city.

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The students at my school are first and foremost well-rounded. As students, they are smart and hard-working. I enjoy coming to class and hearing what people have to say because everyone here is intelligent and wants to go somewhere in the world. Hokies are extremely committed to community service and live by our motto "Ut Prosim," which means "That I May Serve." People are always fundraising and helping out those who are less fortunate. I have been involved in so many philanthropic events I can't even count. Among a few are, Dog Walk benefitting service for sight, packaging food for Haitian victims, attending an all-night dance marathon helping out young children with cancer, hosting ad organizing a talent show raising $22,000 for the blind. Hokies love to have fun. We are extremey spontaneous and there's always something going on. There are over 600 clubs and cater to all interests. The greek organizations are always recruiting new members to join. There is never a dull night in Blacksburg, even on the week nights. Hokies will always hold the door for you. They will always turn in a lost wallet (has happened to me 3 times) or a lost phone (twice.) I have never felt safer in a city then I have here. We all look out for each other and share a mutual respect and love for Tech.

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A lot of people are hesitant about attending Tech because of its size; it intimidates them; they feel as though they’ll be lost in the crowd. Tech’s size can’t be disputed. It is a big school. However, that works to its advantage. Yes, some of the core/lower level classes are large. But once you get into major-specific courses or upper level courses, the classroom size becomes smaller and the teaching becomes student-specific. For example: the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS). Within the college, each major forms around the student’s needs because—though Virginia Tech as a university is large—each major is small and tight-knit. The students have wonderful opportunities to work with Professors on research outside or inside the classroom. In this way, students get the feel of a small college within the setting of a large university—that’s Tech’s biggest advantage. As far as complaints, I believe most students would agree that parking is pretty bad on campus. Not that there’s a lack of it; quite the opposite: there’s an abundance of parking it’s just spread throughout the campus. This sometimes makes for quite a walk. Of course, a little exercise never hurt anyone, right?

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I feel like Tech is most accepting of persons from various socio-economic situations. There is also a large blend of politically active and aware students from all political views. Students often talk about how much they'll earn one day - it is often in the context of engineers bragging (sometimes joking, sometimes very seriously) about how much more they'll make as engineers than students in other fields. As far as racial experiences, there seems to be a belief amongst some students that almost all black students are here to be athletes, and that few non-athlete black students exist. I would like to see more racial diversity amongst my classes. It is not uncommon for me to have classes of only white persons. As far as LGBT interactions, I am a member of the LGBTA and have had generally positive and accepting experiences in most of my other extracurricular groups. However, there are times in classes in which I feel the other students or teachers just assume all persons present are straight - especially when topics of gender and sexuality are part of the conversation. I wish there was more awareness of the LGBT Community on campus. SafeZone is nice, but it is not enough.

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I absolutely love how diverse Tech is. My best friend in the English department was Persian, and several of the guys I worked with at the Inn at Virginia Tech were as flamboyantly gay as they come. Of course you'll find prejudice, but not much of it. Generally speaking, the students at Tech are pretty accepting of one another, and supportive of groups like Cru and the LGBTA. I honestly can't think of anyone who would feel out of place. It's such a huge school with so many different types of people that just about anybody could easily find friends and feel at home. Different groups do interact, and it's not like high school - one group doesn't pick on or harass another group. Everyone kind of does their own thing and, for the most part, leaves each other alone. Most of the students are from the Northern Virginia / Washington DC area ("Nova"). There is a surprising number of out-of-state students (myself included) though, and even international students, particularly from Asian countries. Some people are really focused on how much money they'll make, but not everybody. Engineering and architecture students were the ones I mostly heard about it from.

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Hokie students are the best in the world! We are an eclectic mix of backgrounds, personalities, and ambitions. We do all share one thing--Hokie pride! We respect each other and the community and join together in our athletics, moments of loss, and in everyday moments. There are a wide range of clubs to involved with. You can go Greek or go to the creek with the bass fishing team. You can join any religious group or create your own intramural team to compete in sports. The only thing I would tell students is to come out of your shell. Don't be shy! Join the groups that interest you--its a great way to meet people! Students are, overall, pretty casual about what they were to class. While some girls like to primp more than others, no one is looked down upon that is "slumming it" in sweat pants. We all get along. When it comes to finances, no one really brags about what they are have or will make. I find us Hokies to all be respectful and not showy, though the range is wide on our economic statuses. We are also respectful of all political feelings, though, we tend to be more liberal--especially compared to our where we are located in Virginia.

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Students at Virginia Tech are spirited, up-beat, and intelligent; one could argue that you could find this particular kind of student at almost every college, and I would agree with that. However, there is something that sets apart Virginia Tech from any other college I know; and that is respect for one another. "Hokie Respect" is a phrase you will almost always hear around campus, and it couldn't be more true. Wherever you go, you are greeted by smiling and kind students, often sporting maroon and orange to support the Hokie Nation. I can honestly say that Virginia Tech students are incredibly nice; students always are gracious and thoughtful of those around them. For a school that has gone through much in recent years, you will not find a tighter bond among the student body. Virginia Tech students are all apart of the Hokie Nation and always will be. Students are extremely diverse at Virginia Tech, and there is no predominant stereotype to label our university. I can promise you that at Virginia Tech, you will find people similar to you. It's impossible not too.

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Virginia Tech has quite a diverse group of individuals. One of my favorite things to do each morning after getting on the bus is to pretend to be engaged with my smartphone while actually listening to students around me. The episode varies; one day I'll hear people rave about a party they attended the night before, another I'll overhear two Kuwaiti friends discussing calculus equations. I feel I also get a good cross-section sample of Hokies by noting the appearance of said bus-takers. There's the sorority girl wearing way too much makeup, the unshaven guy whose last shower is anyone's guess, and the typecast model boyfriend and girlfriend. Personality-wise: you name it, we have it. Virginia Tech has a very large population, and, speaking from experience, an individual coming from a rural high school setting might have a hard time adjusting to the lifestyle. Coming from such an environment, I did very poorly my first year before figuring things out. There's no one to hold your hand, so if you don't stay on top of things you can easily be lost in the shuffle.

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As an English major who has taken a wide variety of liberal arts courses, I have been exposed to many different groups on campus. I have had classes with all kinds of students including Christians, Muslims, homosexuals, and international students. I truly believe that there is an enclave and a place for every kind of student if they choose to find it. Most students wear casual clothes to class. Being in Blacksburg, the weather gets very cold and there are a lot of coats and boots being worn. Make sure you have a good pair of rain boots! Students at Virginia Tech are from all over. I have friends from all over the country and even some from outside of the United States. There are, however, a large portion of students from Northern Virginia. There are students from all kinds of financial backgrounds. There are several political clubs/ organizations on campus so that students of all political preferences can exercise their beliefs. I do not hear students talk about how much they'll earn one day.

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