With exceptional pre-K and K-12 schools, Virginia’s Heartland is a great place to raise a family, but unlike most rural areas, Virginia’s Heartland boasts three institutions of higher education. These colleges and university are economic generators in their own right, but they bring much more than jobs to the area – they contribute to the region’s quality of life. Hampden-Sydney College, Longwood University, and Southside Virginia Community College also offer cultural and social opportunities for residents of the Heartland. Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) has a campus in Charlotte County and another in nearby Brunswick County. In addition, SVCC offers classes in six other locations in nearby counties. As a result, the region has the highest percentage of high school students enrolled for dual credit in the state community college system of any region in Virginia. Among SVCC’s offerings is Old Dominion University’s Distance Learning Program.
Hampden-Sydney College is a four-year, liberal arts college for men that is ranked among the country’s top liberal arts institutions. For over 200 years, the College has sustained its original mission “to form good men and good citizens”. Historically, the College numbers among its alumni President William Henry Harrison, 13 U.S. senators, various congressmen, and several governors of Virginia. Living alumni serve in various elected and appointed capacities in government, and as doctors, attorneys, educators, ministers, and leaders in business and industry. Hampden-Sydney’s Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest was launched in 1997. It was renamed in 2000 to honor Lt. General Samuel Vaughan Wilson at the time of his retirement as president of the College. The Wilson Center offers a wide variety of civic education programs which are open to the public. In the last four years these have included programs on World War II: 60 Years After; Beyond Left & Right (an examination of the political establishment); symposia on energy and global democracy, and The Measure of Man: Masculinities in the 21st Century. The Central Virginia Public Affairs Forum, a Wilson Center Program, brings debates, symposia, and speakers on topics of local concern. The Wilson Center also makes a variety of youth programs available to area high school students. For many years, Hampden-Sydney College has opened its classes, on a space-available basis, to students from Prince Edward County High School, the Fuqua School, and those who are home schooled. There is no tuition charge, and classes are open to both boys and girls. Students apply through their high school guidance office. Longwood University — With a legacy of learning dating back over 150 years, it should come as no surprise that Longwood University has developed a lifestyle of learning that extends far beyond the classroom. Founded in 1839, as the Farmville Female Seminary Association, Longwood University is a coeducational, comprehensive state university offering programs leading to bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a wide variety of subjects. Today, Longwood has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,400 students, combining the ambiance of a private university with the cost benefits of a public institution. Longwood was cited recently as one of the nation’s best college buys in America’s 100 Best College Buys, a national publication that profiles schools that are the highest rated academically but have the lowest annual costs. Small classes (average = 25) and a favorable faculty/student ratio (1:14), provide an opportunity for both professors and students to develop close, personal relationships. Longwood operates a Small Business Development Center drawing on the talents of its business faculty and staff and operates the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, which is open to the public in downtown Farmville.