University of Richmond
BackgroundInterview Date:June 2017
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2017
High School Experience: Private school in Baltimore, MD with a graduating class of about 100 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Extracurricular Activities: I sing in an acapella group, I’m in a social sorority, and I’m in academic fraternities that focus on chemistry and biology
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It was a lot depending on if you have 1 or 2 labs that semester. Labs themselves can take up 4-5 hours of class time and 5 hours out of class. You have a Biochemistry class, then you are obligated to have a Biochemistry lab for that class. They have different loads of work but you have to sign up for them at the same time. So that’s 10 hours a day for you’re the lab course, then the other coursework varied week to week, it averaged like 20 hours a week. Biochemistry at Richmond doesn’t have a lot of homework, so you spend most of your time outside of class prepping for exams. Your grade ends up being based on 3-4 exams over the semester and then you get a separate grade for the lab course based on your weekly labs.
One thing that’s unique to Richmond is that to graduate as a Biochemistry major you have to do research with a professor outside of class and labs. It’s like working for the school for 7-10 hours per week. It adds a lot of work, but it’s really great because you can get published while in college.
Did you especially like or dislike anything about your major’s department? Did they do anything especially well or poorly?
Biochemistry falls within the chemistry department. Biology is one of the weaker sciences at Richmond, they are constantly hiring and firing professors, so you end up getting weaker, less experienced professors. The professors for Chemistry are really strong and more tenured. The biggest strength is the required researched. It’s unique to Richmond. It’s much easier to get into the lab here.
How would you describe the learning environment?
It’s very collaborative. Everyone is helping each other out.
How accessible are the professors?
The professors are really friendly. They know you on a first name basis and want you to come into their office to talk so they can help you out.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I really liked chemistry in high school, so I started with chemistry and got scared off by Organic Chemistry and didn’t want to take Organic Chemistry 2 so I switched to Biochemistry. It’s a science that encompasses a lot of different areas. I’m definitely happy with my choice.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Standard freshman double in Laura Robbins (LoRo).
Sophomore: Double in Robbins.
Junior: Off-campus apartment with the same girl from sophomore year.
Senior: Gateway apartments, which are on campus, with 4 girls.
How safe do you feel on campus and in the surrounding area?
It’s very safe.
Do you feel that you could walk to get your standard necessities?
What is your favorite place to get away from campus?
I like going to Shenandoah National Park to go hiking. It’s a couple of hours away near Charlottesville.
Pros and cons of being in Richmond?
Pros: I think it’s a good-sized city for college. It’s small but it has a lot to do.
Cons: It’s a small city so you get sick of going to the same bars and restaurants and stuff.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
Senior year when I didn’t have a lot of work it was a free for all. When I was in my hardest semesters it would be just Friday and Saturday, and maybe a few Thursdays mixed in. Everything is so planned out at Richmond. Wednesday’s are Cellar Wednesdays when we’d go to the bar on campus. You can use your dining dollars there. Thursdays, you go to a club downtown, like the Tobacco Company or Siné’s. There will be a bunch of people from a certain frat going to one place and another group going to another place and you see where your friends are going and go there. Fridays and Saturdays are house party nights. Frats have off-campus houses and also on campus chapter houses called Lodges. Lodge parties happen on Friday nights.
What have been your favorite days or nights at Richmond?
The big day that everyone talks about is Pig Roast, which is in early April. All of the Lodges are open all day and they have food and stuff, and everybody starts drinking really early. Night-wise I would get excited about the frat that I hung out with having specific parties, like a Luau party. Senior year there is a toga social just for the seniors in the Greek theater on campus. They bring beer trucks to it and it’s a lot of fun.
Can you describe a typical night freshman year?
I’d go out with the people on my hall. Frats have their pledges be sober drivers and shuttle people around, so I’d find out who the shuttles were and go to some frat party.
What is an alternative option to going to a party or bar?
I actually don’t know. I don’t think there is a good option. The social scene is very much limited to some sort of Greek thing or going to bars or clubs.
How happy are you with the nightlife at Richmond? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m pretty happy with it. If I could change anything, and this is a national problem, I would have sororities be able to have parties. I think if sororities could host parties a lot of Title IX issues would go away.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through my acapella group I joined, through my sorority, and just the girls I lived with freshman year and hung out with in my hall.
How would you describe the social scene?
It’s very laid out. There are certain things you do on certain nights, and there isn’t room to expand out of that. If there are so many lodges happening on a Friday night and you wanted to do something else there wouldn’t be anybody else there.
Do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
No, I would say it’s such a small amount of people of different sexual orientations. There are there that do mix, but it’s such a small amount there is a cluster of them. Racially, I don’t know, it’s hard to say. It’s definitely not as good as it should be. [9% of undergraduates are international students, and 29% are students of color.]
What is the impact of Greek Life on social life?
While the school seems to want to downplay Greek life, I would say that’s not true. Greek life is pretty important at Richmond. It feels like almost all of your friends are in Greek life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have friends from other Greek groups, though. While all of my friends are Greek, not all of them are in my sorority. [About 54% of females are in sororities and there are eight fraternities on campus.]
Do you think Greek life is separated from everyone else?
No, they are not necessarily separated from everyone else. Everyone else is such a small number that they integrate themselves with the people in Greek life. I had a bunch of friends who weren’t in sororities and they would hang out with everyone.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Yeah, I got my job through an alum.
Do you feel that Richmond has prepared you well for your career and helped you find a job?
Yeah, definitely. Richmond has a really strong career program, so it is pretty much expected that you leave school with a job. The vast majority of my friends left with a job, and many of them got them through the career portal or through an alumni relationship. [Richmond has a 97% six-month employment rate.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Richmond before you entered as a freshman?
Not to take the Greek life thing super seriously. My freshman year people would tell you that you weren’t supposed to have a certain level of friendship with someone from a certain sorority because that meant they were dirty rushing you and picking you for their sorority. That’s not true at all in my experience. So, don’t worry about talking to girls from different sororities, just go out and make as many friends as possible.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There are a lot of jobs and opportunities to get involved in the arts. I feel like all the jobs they talk about on the tour are like working at Starbucks or the dining hall. You can also be a costume designer for the theater department, but you have to seek out those hidden opportunities.
Reasons to attend Richmond:
1) If you want a small school.
2) If you’re interested in being a business major or a science major.
3) If you’re interested in exploring a city outside of your college campus.
4) If you’re interested in Greek life.
Reasons to not attend Richmond:
1) If you’re uncomfortable with the lack of diversity of the student population. [9% of undergraduates are international students, and 29% are students of color.]
2) If you don’t like Greek life.
3) I know some people would get mad at me for saying this, but I think that if you wanted to be a humanities major you could go to better schools.