University of Richmond
BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Private all-boys high school in Baltimore, Maryland with a graduating class of 200 students.
First Generation College Student: No
Majors: Business Administration and Leadership Studies
Extracurricular Activities: I work in admissions as a tour guide and an office assistant. I’ve been involved in leading the freshman orientation program, Greek life, and I’m in Richmond Rowdies, which is the school spirit club.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I enjoy being a tour guide, but that is only a five hour a week commitment for me. My fraternity has been a really big part of my experience at Richmond and is what I’ve spent most of my time getting involved with here.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your majors?
My business classes are more assignment, test, and exam focused, with less reading. I’ll have three tests and then the final. In my leadership classes, it’s very reading focused and class discussion oriented. Preparing for that involved a lot of readings and group projects. I have one or two papers for each of my leadership classes each semester.
Is there anything you feel either of your majors’ departments do especially well or poorly?
The Jepson School of Leadership Studies does a really good job. Not many people want [to major in] Leadership Studies, but it’s cool because it has a wide variety of classes and it’s pretty interdisciplinary. They do a good job at developing soft skills, working with other people, and teaching us about past and present leaders. It’s cool to learn these soft skills and then combine that with technical skills learned in my business classes. The business school at Richmond does a really good job of getting students involved and is career-focused. The professors genuinely care about you. They provide you with internship opportunities, and in my experience, if you go to office hours they help me study for a test, then part of that conversation is the teacher asking what I think I want to do. They genuinely care about working with you to determine what you want to do after graduating.
How accessible are your professors?
Super accessible. It’s all about what the student makes of it though. In the past, I’ve been good at going to teachers for office hours or shooting them a quick email with questions. Every teacher has office hours at least twice a week, probably for two hours each day. It’s easy to pop in, but I don’t think all students take advantage of that.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
I’d say it’s collaborative. I think there is a little bit of competition, but it’s not a cutthroat environment. People look out for each other, and I’d say at Richmond you have to put work into your classes. It’s a tough school academically.
Why did you pick your combination of majors? Are you happy with your choice?
I am happy with my choice. I came in thinking I wanted to go to Medical school and become a doctor. The cool thing about Richmond’s liberal arts [education] was I got to take a few interdisciplinary classes. I took a political science class, and for a little, I thought I wanted to do poly sci. I also took a leadership class because I thought it was interesting. I really liked it, so I kept taking more. With my business classes, I thought it would give me a lot of job opportunities post-grad, and I’ll have a good foundation to go into whatever industry I want.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Wood Hall with one roommate
Sophomore: Gray Court with one roommate and two suitemates
Junior: Off-campus house
How was transitioning from Baltimore to Richmond, VA?
I thought it was really easy. I’m the perfect distance from home, it’s not too far, and it’s not too close. I’ve never felt like I needed to go home, and I think that’s because I met a good group of friends when I got here. The orientation program lends itself to that too.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I’ve always felt really safe. I’ll leave my computer in the library and run over to the dining hall to go eat and not even think twice that someone would take it. We get emails maybe every other week from the university police about a crime. The biggest ones from that are if something gets stolen from a dorm room, or there are sometimes sexual assault warnings. There is a lot of support at Richmond for that, and because of the programs we have installed, there’s a great type of awareness.
Pros and cons of being in Richmond, VA?
1) It’s a really nice area. We are close to shopping centers, grocery stores, and a couple of restaurants.
2) It’s also close to the city. Downtown Richmond is 15 minutes away, and a lot of students go on the weekends.
3) I like that it feels like a campus community rather than being in the city.
4) It’s close to the James River, which students will go to when it’s nice out.
1) Some juniors and seniors live off campus, and those houses are in random residential neighborhoods. I live 9 minutes away from campus, so sometimes it’s a pain to commute.
What kind of weekend activities or nightlife do you like to participate in?
The social scene at Richmond is really driven by Greek life. I have fraternity events on Thursdays, and we’ll usually go downtown into Richmond. On Fridays, there will be parties at night in the lodges, and on Saturdays, there is usually a day party going on through the fraternities. That’s been a lot of fun and probably a big part of the college experience. A lot of students tend to go out Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The social scene is shifting off campus, so a lot of parties and events take place there. Richmond just installed new regulations about lodges. The lodges aren’t fraternity houses because you can’t live there, but people traditionally throw parties there on Fridays, and they are all in a row. The whole idea is you can bounce around different lodges, but in terms of the school trying not to be liable, now you have to have a guest list, and the fraternities can’t provide beer. You can bring beer in if you’re 21 and have a wristband. As a whole, lodges haven’t been as much of the social scene this year. [See The Collegian article, “Students react with mixed feelings to new lodge regulations.”]
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
There’s a lot of cool stuff to do on the James River when it’s nice out. You can go tubing, swimming, or hiking with friends. You can also rent out bikes or kayaks from the school for the weekend. Every Friday or Saturday night Richmond puts on SpiderNights, which are sober nights on campus in the gym. They’ll bring in blow up soccer, table tennis, and stuff like that to provide other options to students. Greek life kind of controls the social scene, and for me, it has been awesome and I love it. I do think the university should do a better job at providing more options for students who might not want to go out and drink or be involved like that socially.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My best friend is from Baltimore and was my roommate freshman year. He went to a different high school and I didn’t really know him beforehand, but our families had a mutual friend. Probably five of the guys in my orientation group are still my closest friends.
How would you describe the social scene at Richmond?
You have some students that go out Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tuesday is probably bars, which are different from a Thursday night when we rent out a bar as a fraternity. There are a couple of college bars that everyone goes to randomly, which are a lot of fun because it makes the social scene more inclusive. In general, it’s pretty driven by fraternities and sororities. Some go out all the time, and there are others that are more academic that maybe go out one night a week. Socially, I feel the variety of fraternities and sororities provides people with a lot of options and makes it easy for them to find their niche.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
I’d say it’s not as diverse as I’d like it to be. I think it’s overwhelmingly White, as far as the Greek life community goes. There is definitely a little bit of diversity, but you can sometimes stereotype Richmond kids geographically being from the Northeast. You’ll meet more kids from Connecticut, New York, or New Jersey than you will from Virginia. [9% of undergraduates are international students, 29% are students of color, and 20% of students come from Virginia.]
How do you like the size of your school in terms of undergraduate enrollment? [The undergraduate population is about 3,000 students.]
I love the size. It has a really great community feel. When you walk to class you see people you know whether you want to or not. It also kind of gives way to small class sizes. You can’t really hide in your classes, you have to be on it because you’re probably going to get called on by the teacher. [The average class size is 16 students.]
Do people generally seem happy with Richmond by senior year? Do people leave loving Richmond?
Yeah, no doubt. A lot of people here seem really happy for the most part. From my own experience, I’m always excited to go back to school coming from break. I think a lot of that has to do with the friendships you make here.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I just got offered an internship in D.C. that I’m going to take, and part of it was through career services. I did Spider Shadowing and shadowed an alumnus who ended up being a fraternity brother of mine. He helped me with the in there, and we went on a consulting road trip to visit eight different firms in D.C. I did on campus interviews, then went up for a super day and it worked out. There are also things like Q-camp in the business school, which is a business networking professional camp for sophomores, geared toward jumpstarting them to begin the internship process. They bring back around 100 alumni, and there’s a huge networking event. The leadership school does the same thing where they bring in alumni to help with internships.
How helpful was the career office?
Really helpful. I’ve done things such as workshops for LinkedIn, interviews, cover letters, and my resume. Before I had an interview this year, I went in for a mock interview. Just like going to a teacher’s office hours, it’s on the student to do that. I have some friends that have never been to career services before, and I have other friends who work there. It’s all about what you make of it, but the resources are definitely there.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that will be helpful professionally?
I’m taking this IT Data Analytics course right now, so we’re working with Microsoft Access and managing a lot of data. We’re going to learn about SQL, and we use a lot of Microsoft Excel.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how accommodating was the office to your needs?
I’m on financial aid. It’s been good, and I wouldn’t be here without it. My parents do most of the communication about financial aid with the school. [The average need-based award is $47,970.]
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Richmond before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how admissions really downplay Greek life, which I think is a common theme around a lot of different schools. I wish I knew how big of a role Greek life played in the social scene. For me, it’s been one of the highlights of my time at Richmond. I came into school not knowing if I was going to rush, kind of having an open mind to it. After being here for two weeks, I decided I definitely am going to rush somewhere because it’s kind of dominant of the social scene, and I wanted to have some of that aspect in my college life. I think students can get blind-sided coming in when they hear the admission stats that [about 54% of females are in sororities and there are eight fraternities on campus]. It feels a lot bigger than [what is advertised.]
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Go to the performance center. It’s an awesome facility that they don’t hit on the tour. Surprisingly, they don’t go to the library on the tour either, which is important to check out.
Reasons to attend University of Richmond:
1) It has a close campus community feel which makes your transition easier.
2) The small class sizes. It really gives you the chance to know your professors well, and they are approachable outside of class. [The student-faculty ratio is 8:1.]
3) There are lots of opportunities to get involved on campus and also within Greek organizations, which helps in developing leadership skills.
4) Career services are really great, and from my experiences, it’s made it easy for me to transition from me thinking I want to go to medical school and then being kind of freaked out when I decided not to take any more science classes. I’d meet with advisors, and they’d help me figure out what I want to do.
5) For me, it’s a good distance from home.
Reasons to not attend University of Richmond:
1) If you want to live in a city. It’s definitely a suburban campus.
2) I wish there were more diversity, but I think Richmond is doing a lot to grow that. [The Class of 2021 was the most diverse class in Richmond’s history.]