The greater Lynchburg area has a population of about 100,000. I know of some parts of Los Angeles have that many people on a single block (well, maybe not). For a city this small, we have a wide variety of colleges. Planting colleges may seem a little strange in a city this size, but considering we are about equidistant between Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, and Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, it is natural that smaller institutions would spring up here.
Keep in mind that in the South a lot of business is via the old-boy-system. Contacts and friends—along with gossip—are our life’s blood. When someone tells you where they went to college, it immediately cues you to their social status, education, network, and expectations.
Central Virginia Community College (CVCC) is part of the Virginia Community College system and a good school for medical fields such as pharmacy technician and respiratory therapist as well as a great place to spend two years preparing to transfer to a four-year college or university. I went there to become a pharmacy technician and to get my Class A Contractor’s license. (Yes, I’ve held a variety of jobs over the years. As I once told a date, I know three facts about most things and can talk about anything. Not that I’d let lack of knowledge stand in my way.)
While it isn’t the largest college in town, Randolph College which began life as Randolph-Macon Women’s College (RMWC) and is known as a liberal arts college. Because of its origin as an all women’s institution, there are strong departments in the classics, mathematics and sciences, most notably environmental science. They are also famous for their annual Greek play, bringing ancient classics to the local stage. RMWC is where Jordan along with Gray’s mother and godmother, graduated. It’s mentioned in the books and helped create the independent women found in the series.
Lynchburg College is a highly respected liberal arts school. Its primary focus is on liberal arts, education, nursing, and business. It also has a respected choir and music program. In recent years, it has added graduate programs in education, nursing, physical therapy and business. Many of its graduates stay in town and start businesses.
We still have a two-year nursing program at Lynchburg General School of Nursing, a self-contained program whose campus is divided between Lynchburg General and Virginia Baptist Hospitals. Fireball’s fiancée got her RN here before continuing on to get her four-year degree at Lynchburg College.
The smallest institution in town is Virginia University of Lynchburg. A seminary, it was originally established to train African-Americans for the ministry. They also teach sociology and rely on the town’s Rabbi to teach Hebrew and the Jewish view of the Bible.
But the largest and the one with the most economic impact is Liberty University. Originally Lynchburg Baptist College, under the direction of the late Reverend Jerry Falwell (yes, that one), it has developed into a large university. It focuses on Southern Baptist values, but it has schools of nursing, theology, and teaching. Their law school is newly accredited and their graduates have a high rate of passing the bar on the first try.
Throw in Sweet Briar College in nearby Amherst County, which has survived as an all women’s college, and you have a lot of higher education in a very small area.
Now, if only we could find a way to keep the children here after they graduate…