Admitted Students Have Questions. Current Students Have Answers

February 21, 2024 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Now that the University of Virginia has issued decisions for two of its three admissions cycles for the Class of 2028, newly admitted students are turning to message boards like Reddit with lots of questions.

When do I enroll in classes? What’s the best way to make friends? Can I change majors if I’ve already been accepted to a program?

UVA Today set out to curate answers to these questions and discovered a fourth-year student had just launched a “passion project” to do this very thing.

Rachel Moore’s idea was borne from a stressful decision she had to make. 

“I started as pre-med and discovered that really wasn’t my passion, but I had such a hard time, like, mentally switching and actually deciding to switch majors,” she said. At first she felt like she “should push through.”

What Moore realized was she was putting that pressure on herself. No one else was telling her she had somehow failed. “This is what college is for; it’s for exploration, and not to just prove for four years that you know exactly what you want to do and you’re going to be the best at it,” she said.

Now a very happy youth and social innovation major, Moore is sharing her experiences with new students at UVA. In fact, she promised as much in her application essay to live on the Lawn.

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“With the Lawn space provided to me, I would actively work to create an environment that embraces academic and extracurricular exploration. I plan to do this through an open-door policy, and coffee chats,” she wrote. “I was so lucky to have a mentor help pull me out of my self-pressure tailspin, and into a major I love. Coffee chats would provide a chance for younger students to talk to upperclassmen or professors about opportunities they may have never considered before.”

What Would I Say to My First-Year Self?’

Moore, who has asked herself that question, held coffee chats in her Lawn room several times in the fall and is continuing the practice this semester.

And she’s taking her project to another level: She’s crowdsourcing input from other students at UVA. In her call for submissions earlier this month, Moore made an outline of almost all the questions first-year students have asked her during coffee chats so far. We posed some of those questions to her. Here are her answers.

Q. Why do you think new students should seriously consider joining a club?

A. If you could just pick one club that you think you like, then most likely some other people in it are going to say, “I also like this. You should also try this.” It’s really a [good way to] kickstart a network, based on something you know you’re going to like, which I think is so important to do quickly because college can just be so isolating. I think it’s just one of the best ways to meet people in a structured environment. 

Q. What’s your advice for studying?

A. I use physical flashcards. I know a lot of people really like to do online studying, but I love to write things on physical cards. And then also talking to my friends about it; I feel like if you can explain it, then that means you know it. Then, I always give myself grace. If the first exam or assignment in a class does not go well, then I make sure to go talk to my professor and maybe explain how I studied. A lot of times, they will have perfect advice about something I may have been missing.

Q. How did you get on people’s social calendars?

A. I think doing things like going to athletic events – even if you’re going by yourself, or just with one other person – at those planned events you’ll see people there. Then oftentimes after that, people say, “Oh, do you want to go grab dinner?” That’s going to lead to other plans.

Q. What have been some of your favorite activities to do with friends?

A. My second year we had a “Bachelor” watch party going. A lot of my friends had apartments and we would swap apartments each week and they would have everyone over and set out crackers and cheese and popcorn. Beforehand, everyone would write down what they thought the outcome of the show would be.

Moore sits with first-years
Earlier this week first-year students Lexi Stine, center, and Chandler Tribble, right, took Moore up on her offer to stop by for coffee. They ended up talking for an hour. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

It’s a fun girl’s night, and you feel very independent because it’s really the first time anyone has ever lived in an apartment. You don’t have an RA. I think that kind of freedom and those nights were always so fun and that was a highlight of my second year. 

Q. Are there any off-Grounds restaurants you would recommend?

A. My friends and I like to go to Mod Pod, the food truck sitting outside the hotel on 14th Street. They have really good breakfast tacos. Also, [try] the macaroni and cheese at The Virginian on the Corner. I’ll be at the library with friends and be walking home and everyone’s like, “Do you want to go to the ‘Virg’ to get mac ’n’ cheese?” That’s something that has always been a trend.

Q. What’s the best way to balance schoolwork and an internship during the school year?

A. I did the internship placement program my third year and was placed at the Charlottesville Free Clinic. It’s a program where you work 10 hours a week. I loved that because I thought it was doable. 

My advice to people is, “If you choose an internship or a part-time job or anything, make sure it’s going to be something where you actually want to go for 10 hours a week. If you do that and you’re not trying to shoot for a crazy amount of hours, then everything will fall into place with your credits because you’re going to want to prioritize that and school.”

Want to Have a Coffee Chat?

Moore encourages current students who are interested in having a coffee chat in her Lawn room to find her email in UVA’s system and reach out.

She plans to take the remainder of the spring semester to collect student responses to her questionnaire and then post a Google document to the UVA subreddit page after Finals Weekend, which is May 17-19.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications