Students looking for a small school environment close to a big city are often out of luck, but that is not the case with Villa Julie College. Located minutes north of Baltimore, the college offers competitive academics, career opportunities and athletics to approximately 2,500 students.
Despite its small size, VJC seeks to provide its students all the opportunities of a major university, with a variety of programs for both full-time and adult students. The benefits of VJC's size show when the school can boast that 96 percent of its 2004-2005 students were employed in their field or attending graduate school within six months of graduation.
Opened in 1947 as a private college to educate medical secretaries, VJC received its accreditation in 1954 to become a two-year institution. In 1984, the school became a four-year college and has since expanded to offer bachelor's degrees in 23 areas of study, as well as four master's degrees. The school has been co-educational since 1972.
Since opening, VJC has expanded its main, 60-acre campus in Stevenson to accommodate more students, activities and academics. Recent enhancements to the suburban campus include a student center, sports complex and additional classrooms and computer labs. VJC also has a 350-seat theater for dramatic performances and two galleries that host local and regional art exhibits year round.
In addition, the days of VJC being strictly a commuter school for residents in the surrounding area are over. Increased demand for on-campus housing influenced the school to open a new residential complex six miles away in Owings Mills. The complex includes apartments for 1,000 students, lounges for entertainment and studying, a fitness center, community center and a free shuttle to the main campus. More residences and classrooms are planned.
Academics and Careers
The most popular majors for students are Business Administration and Management, Legal Assistant/Paralegal and Nursing, but VJC offers a variety of liberal arts degrees such as English literature, forensic science, music, physical education and early childcare and development.
One consistently popular course is History of Baltimore. Students learn about the city's neighborhoods through historical texts, fiction, memoirs and personal reflections. Another class that has gained increasing popularity is a course on the Beatles. Taught by philosophy professor Alex Hooke, the course examines the impact the popular '60s pop group had on music and culture.
A recently added major is Public History, which prepares interested students for practical careers in history, such as working in museums or doing research for non-profit organizations. The major is designed to incorporate community outreach and place students at internships in the area for work experience.
In addition to four-year programs, VJC also offers accelerated bachelor and master's degrees for adults wishing to further their education. Courses include business management, information technology, nursing and forensic studies.
The master's program for forensic sciences is the first of its kind in the state. It prepares its students to work in court on the forensics for white-collar crime.
VJC's Career Services Center is committed to heping students find employment in their chosen field, and brings recruiters to campus at least 60 days out of every school year. The school also actively promotes internships, job postings and seminars to match students with employers and provide networking opportunities.
Students at VJC often commend the school on its attentive professors, who are always willing to lend their skills and experience to guide and mentor. Small classes mean students receive individual attention and benefit from intimate class discussions.
Dr. Gerald Meyer, known as "Mr. Cool" around campus, is an associate professor of English as well as an accomplished poet and jazz saxophonist. An active writer, Meyer has published stories about legendary saxophone players, including a collection of essays titled "The Velvet Lounge: Late Chicago Jazz."
Professors also like to provide real-life experiences for their students. Taking a course in medieval literature with professor Chip Rouse means an invitation to her home for a medieval dinner. An associate professor of English, she also advises "The Villager," VJC's campus newspaper, and has won the college's Excellence in Teaching Award.
Athletics and Clubs
In addition to academics, students have a full range of athletic opportunities available. VJC competes at the NCAA Division III level -- it will join the Capital Athletic Conference in 2007 -- in a full range of sports including baseball, basketball, cheerleading, cross country, dance, field hockey, golf, indoor track, lacrosse, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.
Known as the Mustangs, athletes have access to the sports complex, which houses basketball and volleyball courts, a weight room and training facilities.
VJC also has opportunities for students who want an active lifestyle but do not participate in varsity sports. The school recently purchased the former Ravens training facility in Owings Mills, which will become an athletic and wellness center located near the new student residences.
Students also have ample opportunity to join campus clubs and take part in various activities. VJC's more than 30 clubs include Anime, Campus Crusade, Justice Society and Service Corps. Phi Beta Lambda is popular with business students as an organization that provides not only social aspects, but career opportunities as well. The Black Student Union seeks to promote a diverse learning environment and bring awareness of the minority black campus community.
Experiential learning, leadership and teamwork combine to make VJC a strong choice for students seeking an education as well as career opportunities. Its students are able to shine, whether in the classroom, the playing field or the workplace.