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Virginia Colleges

Virginia Colleges


Virginia is the fount of much of the nation’s early history and was a predominant force in colonial America and in the political and military fortunes of the nation through the Civil War.  Eight of the nation’s presidents have come from Virginia, including its first one.  The state’s prominent families and political leaders have had an outsized role in leadership of this country, given that the state has never been a financial center on the order of New York or Massachusetts.


The New World’s first settlement was Jamestown Virginia, established in 1607.  Slavery was introduced there in 1619.  Up to the Civil War, the state was a primary agricultural force with both tobacco and cotton as primary products.  That war devastated large areas of the state, particularly in northern Virginia where Lee fought so many of his major battles.  The Shenandoah Valley is one of the state’s most beautiful areas, edged by the Blue Ridge Mountains and in 1860, a prosperous agricultural area.  Union General Phil Sheridan swore that by the time he was through laying waste to the valley’s farms and villages, “A crow would have to pack a lunch to fly over it.”


Virginia has endured, however, and lost none of its natural beauty.  Northern Virginia today is part of the Washington D.C. metroplex, and area of millions that includes many Virginia suburbs and some of its most historic locales.  Northern Virginia and in particular the Dulles Corridor that stretches between the Dulles Airport and the Potomac has become an important industrial area with a concentration of electronic production and research firms. 


AOL probably started the trend when it dropped anchor in Reston, Virginia.  Today that area of northern Virginia is an electronic manufacturing and development center that stands alone.  According to the Census Bureau the service industry accounts for one third of all jobs in the state and the majority of those jobs are in business services such as computer services and data processing.


Virginia’s coast supports a number of Navy installations through Norfolk and the Hampton Roads areas.  The Federal Government is a major employer in the state; both the Pentagon and the CIA headquarters are in northern Virginia.  The area has a modern public transit system that runs from the Capitol into northern Virginia, helping to alleviate some of those commutes that now can range from forty to fifty miles beyond the Potomac River.


In the southern portion of the state, Richmond has become a metropolitan area of over one million people, extending into the adjoining city of Petersburg.  The city went through an economic boom in the sixties that established it as a regional financial center, which it remains today.  Richmond lies along the James River and has abundant tourist attractions to balance its diversified economy.  It is the southern balance to the sprawling suburban economic power of the state’s north.


The highly regarded University of Virginia is in the beautiful colonial city of Charlottesville.  The school was founded by Thomas Jefferson and its first buildings designed by him.  It is one of the best public academic institutions in the south: undergraduate tuition for a non-Virginian is about $24,000 per year.  There are many other excellent schools in the state: however given the acute transportation problems that exist in northern Virginia, an electronic commute to school might be a reasonable option to consider.

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