What are you looking for in a school? Would it be having a meaningful relationship with your professor? How about having 182 different clubs and organizations to become apart of to not only make an impact on you, but on your school and Farmville, VA? Becoming a part of the Longwood University community is a life changing event. With a campus that has a close knit atmosphere, a student would have to try and feel lost. Longwood helped me discover who I am and what I can accomplish; and I have about 5,000 others that will agree with me. Now Longwood is not only great because of its various organizations on campus; it is also known for it’s competitive academics, competing with all surrounding schools. So why go to Longwood University to further your education? The better question is why not.
Academically wise, Longwood University has all the popular majors available for its students. Twenty-one percent of the student body are liberal studies major, making it the most popular major on campus. (“Longwood university”, 2012) Longwood is currently ranked 29th in the Regional University South Rankings. (http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/regional-universities-south) With an 18:1 student to faculty ratio, a great education is guaranteed because of the automatic closer relationship with your professors. This is great because class discussions are easier to accomplish and this smaller class sizes allows for teachers to not just teach by having lectures; they are able to do many different teaching techniques. “Students perform better on essay-work and mid-semester examination in smaller classes.” (Johnson, 2010) With great academic standings and an amazing Longwood student culture, this university is a unique and amazing institution.
Culture: what does it mean? When looking at it from an organizational perspective it is “webs of significance; systems of shared meaning.” (Griffin, 2009) When looking at Longwood, we can look at it like a giant web. One person is connected to an organization, then another person in that organization is connected to a different organization; it goes on and on and some people are in the same organizations, causing the image to be a web, not a continuing straight line. So why does this interest you, the perspective student? Because think about all the different organizations you can join, along with all the people you can meet through the many organizations Longwood has to offer. Also in today’s increasingly competitive job market, “employers are increasingly expecting students to display capacities beyond those of simply achieving a degree.” (Stevenson, 2011) So, through the many subcultures that the university has to offer, they (at the end of the day) want to help you become the most competitive upon leaving. Through the many different clubs and organizations, Longwood wants the best for its students, and constantly encourages us to become more involved through campus wide advertising and club/organization fairs.
Someone could easily look at Longwood as a big strong oak tree. The trunk of the tree is Longwood University, standing tall and proud. The roots of the tree are the different clubs and organizations. The roots help make the tree stand strong. The tree is able to stand if one or two roots die, however, if they all were to suddenly shrivel up, then the tree would die. Longwood University strives off of student spirit and the students are apart of all the different organizations. Without the organizations, Longwood wouldn’t have as much pride and wouldn’t stand as tall. This is a metaphor. A metaphor is a non related word that is adopted to refer to a subject or thing (Griffin, 2009). A metaphor helps people make a connection, and in this case, make something that may be foggy brought to life (i.e. Longwood’s culture).
Stories are another anecdote that helps outsiders gain an understanding of a subject. Through stories of different clubs on campus, prospective students can familiarize themselves with these organizations to help them understand what they are about. One type of story available is a “personal story”; this is a story told by a student about another in a positive light. (Griffin, 2009) An example is ‘Laura became involved in a Greek organization on campus. She was an active member for two years until she graduated. Upon her first job interview, her hiring manager was in the same organization she was from a different school. Through this networking, and her hard work, Laura received a job offer at the end of the interview’. This story illustrates how becoming involved on campus, and having good grades can really help you receive a job post college.
Ritual is seen everywhere. Ritual can “be repetitive behavior, an established form of a ceremony or action. It usually marks rites of passage/life transition,” (Griffin, 2009). Rituals are all around Longwood University that are fun and unique. One example of ritual would be color wars. This is held the Friday of the famous “Oktoberfest” and is an unifying, campus wide event. If you graduate on an odd numbered year then you are on team green, and if you are graduating on an even numbered year then you are on the red team. Participants gather with their team in a white t-shirt. When it is announced GO!, the teams take cups of their colored paint and throw it towards the opposing team. This ritual happens every year, and along with this tradition, it brings together the student body. Students who don’t know each other, and are of different ages are brought together and bond; and it is because of this, that we need to make sure that we not only preserve this tradition, but the weekend of Oktoberfest and Spring Weekend as well.
The weekends of Oktoberfest and Spring Weekend are not only an exciting time for the students, however, it is also a fun time for perspective students and the Farmville community. These two weekends are always a lot of fun not only because of the entertainment, but because of the fun atmosphere and watching the cultures throughout the campus come together as well as the Farmville community. These weekends demonstrate the different subcultures (or organizations) come together to raise money for their philanthropies, clubs, and help support their fellow classmates. Perspective students are welcome to come down this day to be shown around campus, then witness one of the funnest weekends Longwood University has to offer. These rituals need to stay constant because of the energy they bring to campus.
When visiting our campus, you may notice many different signs on students’ shirts and on posters. An example of this would be a relay for life ribbon poster. Analyzing this sign through semiology (“the study of how a sign has developed a meaning society has dubbed it” (Griffin, 2009)), a viewer of this sign would notice the visuals of the sign: the colors, RELAY FOR LIFE, cancer, fight, ect. These physical attributes could also be known as the “signifier”. After looking at the sign, you will think of the actual event and how hundreds of people walk through the night to help raise money to fight cancer. This associated meaning is known as the “signified”. (Griffin, 2009) Now why does this effect you, the perspective student? Because if you were to come to Longwood University’s Relay for Life night, you would realize how amazing and touching this event on campus really is. “Longwood students are passionate about ‘doing their part’ toward finding a cure,” (Longwood University’s Relay, 2010). On this night, clubs and organizations throughout the campus come together, raise money for Relay, and walk all throughout the night together. The campus and community comes together and helps to raise awareness and do as much as they can to help with Relay for Life. This is another example of how this university may be small, but we are amazing and unique.
Longwood University is a small school located in Farmville, VA. Because many people don’t even know Farmville is a real town, not many know a lot about Longwood; these people are missing out. Longwood University may be small, however, it makes up for it with all the unique and fun activities constantly going on throughout campus. Within this culture, there are many subcultures to become a part of. Becoming involved in these rituals and stories are life changing. It’s important to understand these because they play a big part in not only your future organization(s), however, they are a part of every culture of organizations. Along with this, being aware of sings and symbols around campus is vital to know what is going on. There are so many things going on on campus all the time, knowing what symbols mean what in Longwood’s culture is helpful so you don’t have to read every word on every flyer. This active school is a gem. It’s an amazing institution that has so much to offer. If considering Longwood, think about visiting Oktoberfest or Spring Weekend to witness the subcultures, rituals, and much more; you’ll understand why so many have fallen in love.
Griffin, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Johnson, I. Y. (2010). Class Size and Student Performance at a Public Research University: A Cross-Classified Model. Research In Higher Education, 51(8), 701-723.
Longwood university. (2012). Retrieved from http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/CollegeDetail.jsp?match=true&collegeId=1059&searchType=college&type=qfs&word=Longwood University
Longwood universit’ys relay for life tops $50,000 in donations. (2010). 2010 News Release. Retrieved from
Regional university south ranking. (2012). Retrieved from http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/rankings/regional-universities-south/page 4
Stevenson, J., & Clegg, S. (2011). Possible Selves: Students Orientating Themselves towards the Future through Extracurricular Activity. British Educational Research Journal, 37(2), 231-246.