When VT Tuition Was $40 a Year

Aug 21, 2019

Now's the time when many people are heading off to college. They may be the first in their family to go. And they may not know yet, what they want to study.  But, not to worry. It’s nothing new. 

In the 1940s a young girl from Blacksburg was trying to make that decision with help from her dad. It was just 20 years after Virginia Tech began accepting women. As we hear in this,occasional series, from The Virginia Tech Oral History Project, some things have really changed.  

1940s Vintage Virginia Tech 'VPI' Banners
Credit COURTESY: ebay

“Okay, so this is Miss Martha, and she lived with her grandmother as well as her parents.”

That’s Virginia Tech Assistant Professor, Jessica Taylor who created this oral history project, talking about a woman she spoke with called Martha Heiskell, who lives in Blacksburg. She’s recalling ‘the talk’ she had with her dad about going to college at Virginia Tech.  “I didn't want to study engineering! I didn't know what I wanted to do!. So then he said, ‘I’m not going to send you over there to study, 'I think they called it home economics and housekeeping 'because your mother is the best cook in this town! And I'm not going to pay them to teach you how to cook.' She laughs, "That suited me just fine because I didn't want to do that! Ans he said ‘you're going to take business because I know how good you are at turning things around and people do what you want them to do. They can't say no to you, Martha. So, you go over there and get yourself a good degree in marketing and all that.’ And do you know how much it cost anyone who worked on the faculty, to go to Tech back then? 40 dollars a year! Things have really changed.”

If you'd like to participate in this Oral History Project contact: Jessica Taylor.

***Editor's Note: Radio IQ is a service of Virginia Tech.