University of Richmond
BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private all-girls Catholic school in New Jersey with a graduating class of about 70 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Rhetoric and Communication Studies
Minors: Entrepreneurship and Journalism
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in a sorority, I’m in Spoon University, and I volunteer for a non-profit.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
The sorority has affected my college life a lot. Volunteering with the non-profit made me want to do an internship with a non-profit this summer.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
A lot of the classes I’m taking right now are media-based. I have a lot of videotape projects, especially in my class, Media Communications. I have a lot of readings on making videos and I’m working on a video essay right now. My other class this semester is a research communications class which is more writing-based.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
I think my major’s department is a really approachable group of people. They make it really comfortable for you to talk in class and say your opinion without feeling like you’re judged by anyone. I like that they’re always inviting us to office hours and are always available.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I think it’s competitive, mainly in the business school which I see in my minor. With my major, I think it’s more collaborative. In the business school, it is more competitive because some classes are graded on a curve.
How accessible have the professors in your department been?
It’s a really approachable group of people and they’re available for questions all the time in class and outside of class. They have office hours and if you can’t go to those they’re willing to work with you.
Do you think people are open to multiple schools of thoughts in the classroom?
I do actually. An example is last week we were talking about a really controversial subject and one class was completely on one side and the other was completely on the other side. The teacher’s whole thing was in order to reach a common ground you have to say what you mean but also listen to the other side, so the professor did a good job of getting people to hear each other out.
Why did you pick your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I wanted to do something that was marketing-based but not as business focused because that’s just not how my brain works. I like Communications because it has a little bit of marketing and I feel like the skills I’m learning and using are actually going to be really helpful to me. It’s made me think differently about listening to people land how to articulate yourself.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Marsh Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Gray Court with one roommate and two suitemates with a connecting bathroom.
How was transitioning from New Jersey to Richmond, VA?
I found it really easy because a lot of the people here are from the northeast. A lot of the people here are very similar to my friends at home and there are a lot of mutual friends and that kind of stuff. Greek life especially made the transition really good because you’re thrown into a group of hundreds of girls that you’re similar to.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I always feel pretty safe. I sometimes get paranoid walking home alone at night but that’s just a me thing because I’m very small. I’ve never had a reason to not feel safe here.
Pros and cons of being in Richmond, VA?
1) The weather is beautiful and the campus is beautiful.
2) It’s a slower paced and nicer area. People are much calmer and I feel totally comfortable babysitting. All the families I’ve met through babysitting are really nice and personable.
1) There are tornadoes, which freak me out.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
My friends and I will go out two or three nights a week. Usually, we go downtown on Thursdays, Fridays we have house parties, and then Saturdays there is a day party or something. When we go downtown a fraternity will rent out a bar and we go down there and it’s nice because you can go in as an under 21 and pay a slightly higher cover.
What is the impact of Greek life on nightlife?
It’s a big impact. I went to an away weekend last weekend in West Virginia and I looked around and realized that every single girl there was in Greek life. The guys are the one who organize events and each fraternity has two sororities that normally go to their events.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There’s a lot of stuff you can do in Richmond. There are some really awesome restaurants. We also will go to the James River when it’s nice out.
How happy are you with the weekend options? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m very happy with it. It just gets repetitive and if you don’t go out all your friends are going out and you’ll just be bored at home. There’s not really an alternative to the main thing that’s going on because everybody else is going to that. It’s also repetitive in that you see the same people all the time.
How did you meet your closest friends?
A lot of my friends in my friend group are also from New Jersey. Before we came here we all met up and got dinner and exchanged numbers. It was nice because we all came here, made other friends, and were able to introduce each other to everyone.
How would you describe the social scene at Richmond?
It’s very repetitive. It’s fun. The only thing is it’s small, so we don’t have as many options as other schools do. It’s very party-oriented and fraternity-oriented.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
You do see people who are of other races and sexual orientations out, but the school is overpowered with White people. Especially in Greek life, there’s not a lot of people of color. In my sorority, there are only a couple of [people of color]. When the athletic teams host stuff is when it gets more mixed. It’s not like anyone gets treated differently, I just think people of color stray away from Greek life because it’s kind of overwhelming, which I think is understandable. [9% of undergraduates are international students, 29% are students of color, and 20% of students come from Virginia.]
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
I have friends who are not in Greek life but it does sometimes feel hard to find people that aren’t in Greek life because so many girls are. The people I meet in classes are my friends who are not in Greek life. People in Greek life don’t come out as much, but when they do I don’t think it’s weird at all and they are treated the same. Being in a Greek organization allows you to always know what’s going on. [About 54% of women are involved in sororities.]
How would you describe the student body?
It’s very competitive, not even with school, people are perfectionists. It’s like everybody has to be working out, eating healthy, have great clothes, and going out. It may be more of a Greek life thing, but there’s a way you have to hold yourself that I can only describe by saying perfectionist culture.
How do you like the size of your school in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [The undergraduate population is about 3,000 students.]
I like how small it is because my high school was super small and I like how you can get to know your professors. It has a very personal feel because whenever you walk to class you run into a bunch of people which is nice because there is a strong sense of community. It’s also big enough that I’m constantly meeting new people. [The average class size is 16 students.]
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not yet, but I can see how it would because we always get emails from alumni in my sorority sending us information about internships and stuff like that.
To what extent have you used the career office? How helpful were they?
I only used it once to check my resume. That was really helpful because they gave me a lot of good feedback.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I’ve learned some Photoshop and Adobe Premiere.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Richmond before entering as a freshman?
I didn’t really understand how big of a deal Greek life is here for girls. If you want to go out, have a social life, and be really included I think it’s really important to be in a sorority. I also didn’t understand how good of friends I would make here. I didn’t expect everyone to be so nice here. There is a really strong sense of community which is nice. People are really welcoming here and people who transfer in are always surprised how quickly they’re accepted. [About 54% of females are in sororities and there are eight fraternities on campus]
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
If you visit I think it’s really important to visit a class so you can see how strong the relationships are with the professors. You also won’t get the vibe of social life or Greek life. If you visit and stay overnight you’ll get to know the type of people that go here which I think is really important and something you wouldn’t see on a tour.
Reasons to attend University of Richmond:
1) People can be whoever they want to be here and I think it’s easy to find your niche.
2) The campus is beautiful.
3) It’s a good school academically. It’s challenging but there are a lot of academic resources you can go to for help and your professors are always open to meeting with you and want you to succeed.
Reasons to not attend University of Richmond:
1) There are some people who are conservative and closed minded about some issues. That can be intimidating for someone who is outside of that.
2) I don’t think Richmond does a great job of mixing people of different cultures very well. In Greek life there is Alpha Kappa Alpha, [which is a historically Black sorority], and the rest of the sororities are primarily White. I wish that the sororities would mix more.