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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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What is the stereotype of students at your school? Is this stereotype accurate?

At Virginia Tech, you don't really hear much about stereotypes. Rather, we are more a complete group of people who works together and supports one another. Some people ask "what is a 'Hokie?'" I think the best answer to give is that a Hokie is someone with love and pride for Virginia Tech and fellow students who go there, or alumni who went there. We are said to have the most school spirit of anyone in the surrounding Virginia area. If this is considered a "stereotype" then I would have to say I agree. Each student here has such a deep love and passion for our campus, school, and academics. We strive to be the best we can be in all aspects of work and play. We work hard in classes, yet find the time to cheer on our athletics teams during games. Some of the best times are Saturdays during football games when everyone in Lane Stadium starts jumping when "Enter Sandman" starts playing. At that moment we are all there for one thing- to support our fellow Hokies. You can find support from a fellow Hokie anywhere you go. From just walking on campus (and not being able to go over 20 yards without seeing someone wearing orange or maroon, or any Hokie attire,) to being off campus and seeing alumni or locals who give you a friendly, "go Hokies!" when you pass by. It is clear that the Hokies are loved and supported by many. Events such as April 16, 2007, have just made our campus life, activities, and support for peers and professors that much stronger. We were faced with tragedy and grew stronger from it, like a family. We know the importance of never taking a day for granted, and we will always remember those who were lost on that day. Four years ago, I made the decision to come to Virginia Tech and I can say it is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I wouldn't want to go anywhere else for my years of college, and I can't picture being anything other than a Hokie!

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I would say the largest misconception about Virginia Tech (academically) is that it’s primarily focused on the colleges’ of Engineering, Architecture, and Business; and likewise, all the students are of those majors. Now, this misconception isn’t conceived unjustly. All three programs are ranked nationally, highly at that, and all three bring in large amounts of prospective students. However, the second largest college within Virginia Tech—Engineering being the largest—isn’t Architecture, or Business, or even Science; it’s the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. And they’re achieving national recognition as well: “Innovative kitchen designs by three Virginia Tech apparel, housing, and resource management students landed them in the top 10 out of 401 college and university competitors in the national National Kitchen and Bath Association/General Electric (NKBA/GE) Charette Competition” (http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/05/051311-clahs-kitchen.html). “Poets & Writers Magazine recently recognized Virginia Tech as 35th among 527 MFA programs nationally, positioning it in the top 7 percent. In addition, the Virginia Tech program is ranked No. 10 in poetry, and its trend in ranking is ‘up’” (http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2011/01/011811-clahs-poetryrank.html#_blank). So, it’s not just the stereotypes that are making national waves, and it’s not the stereotypes that house the second largest college at Virginia Tech. Though, it’s hard to get rid of those engineers.

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Being the large school that it is, Virginia Tech houses a melting pot of students, which therefore can lead to many stereotypes of groups and types of people. Of course there are the jocks, geeks, frat kids and so on; however to focus on those "sects" of people would be to only scratch the surface. Virginia Tech has a bond and pride that is unlike any college elsewhere and it derives from a far deeper connection. Students at Virginia Tech have faced many difficult and trying events that have left scars and caused deep wounds. The April 14 shootings, and most recently the killing of Officer Crouse have given Virginia Tech a dark mark that leaves upcoming students to think twice about entering into the "violent" school. In light of all these events there has not been a rift in the student body, but quite the oppostie, a deep sense of unity. These events have brought the school closer together in a way that can be felt it immediately as a person steps onto campus. This unity has given our large campus an incredible "homey" feeling. Fueled by a generally welcoming student body that is caring towards one another. When a fellow hokie walks by with their marron and orange, whether on campus or off, it is commonplace to yell, "Let's Go!" and hear the, "HOKIES" echoed back in response. I've never been to a place so proud for what they stand for, even in the midst of incredible adversity.

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One existing stereotype is that those who attend Virginia Tech were unsuccessful in gaining acceptance to another Virginia school- the University of Virginia. This is false. The truth is that those who go to UVA are just jealous of us Hokies down in Blacksburg. We are just as smart as they are, and have the better football team. We are not a school of "UVA rejects." As a big engineering school, a lot of students are hardworking and very busy engineers. Some may stereotype these students as geeks, no-lifers, video-gamers, or go as far as to tack all Asians as engineers. Again, false. On the contrary, engineers are extremely smart, involved, not as socially awkward as one would think, and definitely not all Asian. As there are at any university, stereotypes unfortunately exist. You have to look at the bigger picture; whether or not we ever wanted to go to UVA, or whether we're engineers or not, we're all Hokies. All stereotypes aside, we band together like no other community, embodying daily "Hokies Respect" and our motto, "Ut Prosim" (That I May Serve) to form one of the strongest community bonds in the nation. We ARE Virginia Tech.

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Some people tend to think of Virginia tech students as "farmers" with the negative stereotypes, usually perpetuated by UVA students, including that we are dumb hillbillies who care about nothing but football. The positive stereotypes typically involve the devotion of the students to the school, football team, and town or the success of the engineering program. After four years of countless football games and nights out on the town, I became convinced that the “dumb hillbilly” stereotype was far from true. I found the students at Virginia Tech incredibly knowledgeable, and for the first time in my academic career I had some difficulty. The “hillbilly” part of the insult was closer to legitimate, as Virginia Tech was very secluded from any major cities and located in a very agriculture area of the state. Because of this, the “farmer” stereotype seems accurate, as well as the loyalty stereotypes. The isolation breeds student loyalty and Virginia Tech fans are some of the most passionate I have ever seen. There is a definite change in mood on campus depending on the outcome of any big game.

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Tech has a huge Greek community, so if you want to be part of the Frat Guy / Sorority Girl crowd, you'll have quite the selection to choose from. Obviously Tech has plenty of jocks, but there are different levels of athletes. The football and basketball players are kind of in a league of their own - aside from on the field/court, you won't see them much except at West End, the more expensive dining hall. There's plenty of room for other athletes, though. There are tons of intramural and club sports: crew, soccer, volleyball, basketball, water polo, any sport you could imagine. Unlike high school, everyone at Tech has a bit of geek in them - especially during finals. With it being such a large school with so many departments, the thousands of students are really diverse. One of my favorite things about Tech is the fact that anybody and everybody can find a place to fit in. Whether you're into sports, community service, math, poetry - whatever you're passionate about, you'll find others that share your interests.

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The two most common stereotypes of Virginia Tech students are that they are either members of fraternities and sororities or engineering nerds. In truth, about 16% of Virginia Tech's undergrads are involved in Greek life, and Virginia Tech's College of Engineering is the largest of its kind in the state. Sure, plenty of frat boys and sorority girls live up to their stereotypes, but most don't. In fact, all of VT's Greek organizations contribute many community service hours and/or raise funds for charities. And if Greek life isn't something you're interested in joining, don't sweat it. Virginia Tech is home to many other student organizations, including my personal favorite, our radio station (WUVT FM 90.7). As for engineering nerds--you're bound to meet a few. But most students in the College of Engineering are just like students in any other department: they want to learn, but they also want to enjoy the college experience.

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There are many stereotypes regarding the student-body at Virginia Tech. Many people feel that the students at Virginia Tech (as well as some of the faculty) are born and bred in Blacksburg, Virginia and are "rednecks" or hunters. While you can find students at Virginia Tech that did grow up in Blacksburg, and do hunt frequently, this is far from being able to describe the majority of the students at Virginia Tech. During my four years there, I met VERY few people who could be described as such. Another stereotype about the student-body at Virginia Tech is that there is a lack of diversity. Many people say that there are not many African American students at Virginia Tech aside from the athletes. While there are African American students at Virginia Tech, there is a very low percentage. Most of Virginia Tech's little diversity comes from it's Asian/Asian-American students.

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Our students don't satisfy any one stereotype. Our Engineering school attracts brilliant minds from across the globe, producing students that win nationally-acclaimed science events. The rural location of the campus produces a large portion of "country" students with a southern "drawl." Greek life is also a fixture; around 16 percent of the undergraduate population is currently involved. One thing everyone shares, however, is an immense sense of pride in our football team. This fact is most recently cemented by the Sugar Bowl bid we received above higher-ranked teams, based on the selection committee's belief that Virginia Tech fans would be more likely to flock to New Orleans in support of our team than the other candidates. A football town? Absolutely.

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Being in the southern part of the state of Virginia, often times prospective students think that Virginia Tech is a typical Southern School, that all the students are from down south, have incredibly conservative ideals, and are better at fishing, hunting, and driving pickups than most people. When I came to Virginia Tech I was surprised at how many people came from the North! I have tons of friends from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and many other Northeastern states like Massachusetts. You are going to have the stereotypical southerners because the school is technically located in the south, but our campus is also very diverse.

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