Admissions Blog: Favorite spots on campus

By Ailish Rhoades ’19,  Admissions Counselor

Of all the wonderful things Sweet Briar is known for, we are all exceptionally proud of our strikingly beautiful campus. With the enchanting Blue Ridge Mountains serving as a backdrop for our miles of trails, rolling hills and bright brick buildings, it’s hard not to fall in love. With 3,250 acres to explore, everyone has their own special spot on campus where they can enjoy a peaceful afternoon. Sweet Briar’s admissions team wants to show you some of their favorite places to give you a bit of inspiration for when you arrive and explore for yourself. Here’s what they have to say:

Savannah OxnerSavannah Oxner ’05,  associate director of admissions operations:

I became a runner right as I was entering Sweet Briar as a freshman and quickly learned to love running campus. On top of the beautiful scenery of the main campus, I have especially learned to adore the 18 miles of trails. The rolling hills and forests make for a fantastic view and are perfect for getting a little lost and clearing your head.

One of the trails at Sweet Briar
One of the many trails on campus

My favorite spot is a couple of miles out from campus, down on Williams’ Creek. The creek bubbles along quietly while the birds sing and swoop through the trees.  One time, I saw an egret alight from the water and watched it soar gracefully for a long distance through the air before it finally disappeared out of sight. I keep going back to the area and hoping I’ll have the chance to witness it again.

Ailish RhoadesAilish Rhoades ’19, admissions counselor:
I’ve always been one for finding a quiet space to unwind after a stressful day. My all-time favorite spot to relax is at Sweet Briar’s bandstand right at the bottom of the Dell. I’ll string up my hammock between two of the trees, Jack Johnson floating from my speakers, and simply lounge for hours while finishing off whatever book I have glued to my hands that day. It’s just sunny enough to stay warm and work on my summer freckles, but there is always the most beautiful breeze which carries with it the sound of birds singing and squirrels frolicking. 

Two students relax on the dell with a dog
Students enjoy hanging out on the Dell and stringing up their hammocks

My best friend and I used to bring the dogs out with us in the late spring and lay side-by-side in our hammocks all day long, throwing magazines and snacks back and forth. During the last week of my senior year, our campus events organization booked this great band to come out and play, and I swear the entire student body came out with blankets and spent the night dancing around the Dell under the stars. It was magical, and just one of the so many special nights I remember spending down there. 

Jessi Pugh, senior admissions counselor: 

My favorite spot on Sweet Briar’s Campus is the Cochran Library, which you’ll hear a lot of our students say. From the marble spiral staircase to the large glass windows, it perfectly blends classic and modern architecture. And, in many ways, it’s a great metaphor for a Sweet Briar woman. Our students and alumnae love the history of our traditions on campus, but are strong leaders in today’s world.

Inside Mary Helen Cochran Library

If you haven’t been to campus, make sure to visit the library’s Reading Room and look up at the ceiling. I love the daisy, rose, and apple details in the crown molding. And the Browsing Room not only shows off our student, alumnae and faculty publications, but it’s a great place to curl up with a book on a rainy day.

Mandi DeanMandi Dean ’05, admissions counselor:

What are my favorite spots on campus? I have to start with the broadest – the campus itself. The campus is set back off the main highway and it makes for a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere that is very secure. I love that we can walk around campus and not have to worry about a lot of traffic buzzing by. Then it’s a place where we can utilize the grounds for our coursework. If I wanted to escape further on campus, I would go to the Boat House and get in the water. I love being on the water whether it’s swimming or in my kayak. I can go float, hang out and get some sun. But if I want more exercise, I enjoy walking around the campus Dairy loop. There’s always something, or someone, to see.

The boathouse and lake
The boat house by the lake

When you arrive on campus, set a little challenge for yourself! See if every week you can take a different path to class, or go study in a different building. Try and experience everything that you possibly can and take advantage of all the beauty right at your fingertips. Hopefully, this sparks your adventurous spirit and gives you a few things to add to your Sweet Briar bucket list. Happy Trails!