Finding Help and Support
Q: Where can my student find "the helpers" at UVA?
A: Helpers are everywhere at UVA! The faculty and staff want students to succeed. Your student should know about these people in particular:
- Resident Advisers: The RA is one of the best resources readily available to all students living on Grounds, especially to incoming students. From answering basic questions to offering advice about classes or other aspects of University life, RAs are trained to help students.
- Peer Advisers: Upperclass students often serve as peer mentors to new students in areas such as academics, careers, and health. Notable programs include the African-American Peer Advisor Program, the College Council, Career Peer Educators, health and wellness peer educators, and programs serving transfer students.
- Student Affairs Staff: Students can find a range of help from faculty and staff in the division of Student Affairs. From the Office of the Dean of Students and Student Health to the Career Center and Office of African-American Affairs, professional staff members provide services along with programming, counseling, and mentoring to students. More information is available at http://vpsa.virginia.edu and throughout the handbook.
- Association Dean, Academic Deans, and Staff in Individual Schools: Each school has deans and staff in place to help students. In the College of Arts & Sciences, students should look to their association dean for academic assistance. College students are assigned to an association dean based on their first-year housing assignment or their status as an Echols scholar, student-athlete, or transfer student. Students keep the same association dean for as long as they remain in the College.
Health and Safety
Q: What if my student gets sick?
A: Students should consider Student Health as the primary option for their health care while at UVA. Services include Counseling and Psychological Services, General Medicine, Gynecology, the Student Disability Access Center, and Health Promotion. After hours, for urgent health concerns, students can call the answering service at 434.297.4261 to be connected with an on-call care provider. In an emergency or life-threatening situation, students should always call 911.
Student Health's services, including information about health insurance requirements, are described on Health and Wellness.
Q: Any pointers on how to talk with my student about their health and safety?
A: Between late hours, academic stress, and shifting dietary habits, college can pose a number of challenges. Many programs are in place at UVA to encourage a healthy, safe lifestyle. If you are concerned about alcohol use, see the column on Alcohol Use among Students: How Parents Can be Partners in Prevention. Other information is available on psychological services and eating disorders.
Q: Is it possible to get prescriptions filled on Grounds?
A: Yes, Student Health has a UVA Hospital satellite pharmacy that will fill all prescriptions (even those not written by Student Health), and another UVA licensed pharmacist is conveniently located inside the UVA Bookstore on Central Grounds. In addition, a retail pharmacy is located on the Corner.
Q: What safety measures are in place for students?
A: Student safety is a priority at UVA. During move-in, students will receive a comprehensive Student Safety booklet. Please take time to review the guide with your student. It covers the many safety resources in place at UVA.
Everyone plays a role in creating a safe community. Students are urged to be aware of their surroundings, to watch out for one another, and to always call 911 if they need help or see a person or situation that seems suspicious. If something simply doesn't feel right, students should call the police.
Q: How can I keep track of what is going on in my student's life at UVA?
A: Certain events, such as midterms, occur at predictable times during the academic year. A number of UVA traditions, such as the Third-Year Ceremony, also occur at set times. See Student Timeline: What Happens When.
Q: What are Fall Reading Days? Do most students go home?
A: Fall Reading Days occur in October, just before the midpoint in the semester. Students do not have classes, so they can catch up on coursework – or sleep. Many students, but not all, go home for the four-day break, especially if they live nearby. For students who stay, services such as dining and University transit are still available, but schedules may be altered.
Q: What’s the easiest way for my daughter or son to get home?
A: Depending on where you live, transportation is available through the Charlottesville Airport, Amtrak, Greyhound, independently owned bus services, and ride-sharing.
Some families find the Richmond Airport, located approximately 80 miles from Charlottesville, to be a more convenient travel hub. Dulles International Airport is located approximately 105 miles from the Grounds.
See Parking & Transportation for more information on travel beyond Charlottesville as well as transportation and parking at UVA.
Sending Mail and Packages
Q: How do I send mail to my student?
Q: My student is disappointed they did not get the classes they wanted during registration at Orientation. What can they do?
A: First, neither of you should worry. Course registration reopens in August, and students can add and drop classes then. During the first week of classes, students also can attend different courses even if they are full, and sometimes professors will allow more students to enroll.
Q: Things don’t seem to be going well between my student and their roommate. Can they switch to a different room?
A: For many students, this is the first time they have had to share private space with another individual. This experience can be a tremendous learning opportunity, bringing self-knowledge and life lessons in compromise, communication, diversity, and assertiveness. Encourage your student to enter this new relationship with a sense of adventure and patience.
Upon arrival, roommates create and sign a contract with their RA. The contract serves as a guide to prevent issues between roommates before they develop. In addition, many resources are available for addressing roommate conflict, including formal and informal mediation processes. Students are encouraged to work out challenges together with their roommates. If this attempt is not successful, students should contact their RA who will help or refer the situation to an assistant dean or area coordinator in Housing & Residence Life. Changing rooms, which is not common, depends upon the situation and the spaces available.
Q: It’s February, and my first-year student just does not seem to be adjusting to college life. What can I do?
A: Sometimes parents feel that their student needs help. Based on experience, the best course is for parents to guide their student to seek out help on their own. By dealing directly with the student, the Housing & Residence Life staff are able to develop a relationship, ascertain the student’s needs, provide your student with an experienced perspective, and allow your student to choose the option they feel is best.
Of course, there are times when it is important for a parent to call the University directly to partner on a problem. For instance, if you believe that your student is unable to seek their own help (such as in cases of severe depression), if you are unable to reach your child in an emergency, or if you believe someone may be in danger, please call Housing & Residence Life (434.924.3736), the Office of the Dean of Students (434.924.7133), or the University Police (434.924.7166). Someone is available 24/7.
Jobs, Internships, and Study Abroad
Q: What help is available for students to find internships and jobs?
A: The UVA Career Center provides individual student counseling, career-related programs, mentoring and networking events with employers, and career fairs for students beginning in their first year. Encourage your student to visit the center early and often.
When students are ready to seek specialized resources, the Career Center offers six Career Communities, which bring together employers, alumni, faculty, and Career Center staff to assist students in their career search. The communities offer specialized advising, programs, and handpicked job and internship opportunities.
Q: How can my student plan for studying abroad?
A: Although students may prefer not to miss a semester at UVA, many options are available for education abroad. After the acclimatization period of first semester, encourage your student to attend the Education Abroad fair in the spring semester or in the following fall semester.
The most popular times to study abroad are second and third years. As an initial step, students should meet with an education abroad adviser and with their academic adviser early in the semester to discuss academic requirements and deadlines. Students should be aware that there may be a great deal of paperwork involved, so planning early will help facilitate the process. Many deadlines are in October for the upcoming spring, but as early as September in some cases.
In addition, if your student will be studying in or traveling to an under-resourced area, they should visit the International Travel Clinic at Student Health four to six weeks prior to departure to ensure that they receive any necessary vaccinations.
See Other Academic Opportunities for more information about Education Abroad, as well as other academic opportunities, such as January Term and Undergraduate Research.