Fall Early Decision 2012

Attention all Fall Early Decision applicants: keep an eye on your mailboxes. Decisions were mailed on Friday via the U.S. Postal Service, and they should be arriving soon.

Richmond maintains a traditional postal mail notification process, which means we don’t notify online or via e-mail (except for students living outside the United States, who receive e-mail notification). Which means, for most of you, that some good, old-fashioned mailbox stalking may be in order.

To all admitted students: Congratulations on behalf of the admission committee and the University community! This year’s Fall Early Decision pool was the most qualified and one of the largest in our history, and decisions were extremely difficult to make. You represent approximately one third of Richmond’s Class of 2017, the first big step in creating our next class, and you were selected carefully and individually for the myriad of accomplishments, talents, and experiences you’ll bring with you. You should be incredibly proud.

You’ll need to deposit by January 3 in order to secure your place in the class. In the meantime, be sure to visit our admitted student page and join the Class of 2017 Facebook group. Once we start receiving deposits, markers will start appearing on the Class of 2017 Google Map, so keep an eye on that, too. Finally, fill out this form to receive your official class t-shirt!

To students who have been deferred into the Regular Decision pool: Take a deep breath and regroup. There are two main reasons that we defer applications to RD. In the majority of cases, the committee simply wants to see these applications in the context of the entire applicant pool, before we make a final decision. In some cases, however, there may be something specific the committee wants to see – for example, your full first semester grades, if your first quarter grades were of concern or if you had a significant dip in your junior year and the committee wants to see a full semester’s recovery. Deferred students should feel free to contact their regional counselor and ask if there’s anything more they can do to improve their application in Regular Decision; just keep in mind that nine times out of ten, the answer will be no, the committee just wants to review your application in light of the whole applicant pool. Every year there are deferred students who are admitted in Regular Decision (though you are no longer bound by the ED contract, in that event).

Students who were not admitted are students that the committee felt would simply not be competitive in Regular Decision. We’re grateful for your interest in Richmond, but admission is highly selective, and we can only accommodate a small portion of applicants. If your heart remains set on Richmond beyond this application cycle, we encourage you to consider applying as a transfer student after a successful year at another institution; feel free to contact us if you have any questions about this option or even about what sort of curriculum to pursue in order to make your transfer application more competitive.

Questions? Post away!

Don’t Freak Out 2012-13

With the Richmond Scholars deadline upon us, I thought I’d follow in the tradition of previous years and tell all those applicants out there to take a deep breath and… relax. It’s going to take a few days for us to sort through the thousands of applications we’re receiving, so don’t pick up the phone to call us just yet. Here’s what to expect after you hit “Submit” on the Common Application.

1. You should very quickly receive a confirmation e-mail from the Common Application, telling you that your application was submitted to the University of Richmond. If you don’t, you should go back into the Common Application to check things out and make sure you actually submitted it. But note that even after you receive this e-mail, it doesn’t mean that Richmond has received (i.e. downloaded) or processed your application yet. (Think of the old days of paper applications. Dropping an application in the mailbox doesn’t mean it’s suddenly sitting in our office – it has to get there. So it is with electronic applications. We have to access the Common Application online and download everything that has been submitted, which we typically do once a day.)

2. Once we process your application, you’ll receive an e-mail from us telling you we’ve got it. This usually happens within two business days of your submission. This e-mail will also list everything else, besides the Common Application, that is required for a complete application to Richmond. This doesn’t mean we haven’t received these things – it’s a form e-mail that goes out to everybody, just as a reminder. To confirm that we’ve received everything, you have to wait for step #3.

3. Within about two weeks of applying, you’ll receive a letter from us in the mail (students outside the U.S. will receive an e-mail), confirming your application and providing log-in information for BannerWeb, the online system where you can check the completeness of your application and see exactly what we have on file. For December 1 applicants, you can also confirm in BannerWeb that your application has been flagged for Richmond Scholars consideration. (Why a letter, rather than a more expedient e-mail? Because, legally, we’re not allowed to share your log-in information via e-mail if you’re in the United States. A good, old-fashioned letter is the only way to do it.)

One note for Richmond Scholars deadline applicants: the date of the letter (#3) is irrelevant. December 1 falls on a Saturday this year, which means that the letters for students who applied on November 30 or December 1 will almost all be dated Monday, December 3. This date is simply the date we processed your application, so don’t freak out. Just log into BannerWeb and double-check that you’re being considered for Richmond Scholars.

If, after you have received all three of the above communications, you have any concerns or there seems to be something missing, that is the time to call our office. Even if it’s a few weeks later, we can go back down the paper and electronic trails to get things sorted out. If there are any mix-ups, it won’t be too late to fix them. And we’d much prefer to sort things out down the road, once the dust has settled, than try to answer questions now, when everything is still being processed and it’s harder to track things down. So hold off a few days, relax, and trust that we’ve got you covered.

One final note. As of this year, Richmond is officially processing all applications electronically – we no longer have a physical application folder for each student, as we used to. We still accept paper documents through the mail, but these need to be opened, scanned, uploaded, retrieved, and electronically filed before they join your application. What does this mean? Sending things electronically (via e-mail or your high school’s guidance office) is almost always going to be faster, in terms of the time it takes to get to your application. Just a tip, for those who are curious.

16 Reasons to Join Richmond’s Class of ’16

In each of the past few years, I’ve come up with a list of reasons admitted students should choose Richmond, with the length of the list equivalent to the last two digits of the class year. Three years ago, people raised their eyebrows at my notion of carrying on the practice annually; “Won’t that get repetitive?” they asked. “And won’t it just get longer and longer?”

Well, it has gotten longer – this year I’ve had to come up with 16 reasons – but one of the great things about working for the University of Richmond is that you’re never at a loss for things to brag about. Richmond offers so much amazing stuff that I don’t have to scrounge for material; it’s really an absurdly easy task to create the list (I had a little trouble with #9 under this year’s format, but I think I managed to pull through okay). When it comes to marketing Richmond, the school really sells itself, and, in the words of one of our tour guides, “Everything the website and admission office told me was true – except it’s even better than that!”

So, even though a blog entry can’t do them justice, here they are: 16 reasons to choose Richmond’s Class of ’16.

1 integrated experience. In all likelihood, your four years at Richmond will include a double major, an active residential life on campus, involvement in multiple clubs and organizations, probably one or two student leadership positions, a semester abroad, at least one internship experience, lots of civic engagement, and quite possibly original research mentored by a faculty member, all on top of a broad liberal arts education. (At least that’s what the statistics from our student body suggest.) That’s a lot going on – but what’s so amazing about Richmond is how seamless the entire experience is. You’ll be amazed how your classroom, residential, and real-world experiences meld together as you grow and learn through each of them; academics are not just theoretical but highly practical, while experiential opportunities offer some of the greatest intellectual insight you come across.

2 coordinate colleges, Richmond and Westhampton, bringing together deep history and tradition with the most current and personal in student development. The unique coordinate system gives all the benefits of a small women’s or men’s college to those who seek it out, and provides a more holistic and personalized experience for all students, helping integrate academic and residential aspects of college life.

3 undergraduate schools, covering the Liberal Arts & Sciences, Business, and Leadership Studies – a unique combination of schools found nowhere else. Combine studies across schools and academic disciplines to graduate with not just a major but an array of courses ideally suited and tailored to your career goals and to life in a complex world. Additionally, undergrads are guaranteed access to courses in our Law School and School of Professional and Continuing Studies.

4 classes your first semester, including a First-Year Seminar (have you taken a look at this coming fall’s topics?) Seminars are taught by faculty from all five schools (including the Law School) and, though topical, focus on building the analytic and expressive skills critical to a liberal arts education — and to life. Your other first-semester courses are selected from hundreds of options that introduce fields of study and fulfill gen ed requirements; introductory courses in business and leadership studies are also an option for those interested.

5 thousand dollars in the average summer research grant. More than 200 students conduct research on campus each summer, and over half of Richmond students will complete mentored research by the time they graduate. The School of Arts & Sciences alone awards more than $500,000 in undergraduate research funding each year; the annual Arts & Sciences Student Symposium is taking place today, with hundreds of students presenting their research.

6 out of 10 students study abroad, most of them for a full semester as an exchange student at one of more than 75 partner institutions in over 40 different countries. Richmond has been recognized as a leader in international education and ranks fifth among baccalaureate colleges nationwide for the number of students studying abroad.

7 out of 10 students complete an internship prior to graduating. Our top cities for internships are Richmond, Washington, D.C., and New York City, though plenty of other domestic and international partnerships are available.

8 legs on our mascot, and the only Spiders in the country. An appropriate mascot, considering we’re the 8th-smallest Division 1 school in the U.S. but, since 2001, our athletes have captured more than 40 Atlantic-10 conference titles, a national championship in football, and a Sweet 16 run in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

9th-ranked synchronized swimming team in the U.S. – and 29 other sport clubs, with more than 800 students participating each year. Club sports too big a commitment? Intramural sports are available in more than 15 areas, and the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness has a plethora of fitness classes in addition to their top-notch workout facilities.

#10 college for best career services (Princeton Review). Our Career Development Center works individually with students throughout all four years on everything from career exploration to mock interviews, resume development, and job placement. Each year, they also sponsor 5 Industry Expos + 5 Spider Road Trips (=10 huge exploration/recruitment opportunities).

11 Sophomore Scholars in Residence communities this year, providing an integrated academic and residential experience for second-year students. Immerse yourself in a particular topic for an entire year, live and breathe it on hall with your classmates, and study it in and out of the classroom through a variety of activities (typically including a university-funded trip). Want to get started sooner? There are eight living-learning communities for first-year students available this fall…

12 courses, on average, to complete a major – and most Richmond students will complete two majors, or a combined major, or a major with two minors. You can study a major in the most traditional way, you can create your own major, or you can select an interdisciplinary major; our newest include Healthcare and Society, Film Studies, and PPEL (Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law).

13 academic buildings – 3 of which (the Carole Weinstein International Center, the business school’s Queally Hall, and the Gottwald Center for the Sciences) have opened their doors in the past six years. Our facilities are all top-of-the-line, and they’re a physical reflection of the University’s well-resourced commitment to providing a surpassing student experience.

14 residence halls, with 90% of students living on campus all four years for a strong community experience. Our #14 most beautiful campus and #14 best campus food rankings (Princeton Review) certainly don’t detract from residential life on campus, either.

15 minutes to downtown Richmond — home to Virginia’s State Capitol, 6 Fortune 500 companies, the Geico Caveman, America’s largest folk festival, and the only intra-city Class IV rapids in the U.S. Whether it’s through community engagement and service, internship opportunities, cultural and arts events, or outdoors adventure, Richmond students thrive on the balance between a beautiful, idyllic college campus and an exciting mid-sized city right next door.

16 students in the average classroom – along with one Ph.D. No classes are taught by grad students or teaching assistants, and courses start out small, with 98% under 30 students. The liberal arts experience – interactive, dynamic, and highly personalized – doesn’t get much better than that.

Decisions Are Out – 2012

It’s official. As you may have noticed the URAdmission Twitter feed announce, decisions left our building Friday afternoon via the U.S. postal service (and began to go out via email for international students). Most will likely be arriving early this week, depending on your distance from Richmond.

We had another record-breaking year, and the most competitive admission pool in the University’s history, with over 10,200 applications received. Needless to say, selecting from such a large and qualified applicant pool for a class of 765 proved to be a very difficult task. (See last week’s mythbusting post about selecting a class if you’re curious how that actually works — not just for Richmond, but for selective colleges in general.)

To all admitted students: many congratulations! Honestly, it blows me away each year just how much stronger and stronger our pool becomes, even as it grows in size. The talent and achievement we discovered this year is unparalleled in my five years with the Office of Admission. You ought to be extremely proud of your accomplishment.

Of course, we hope you’ll also choose us and decide to become a Spider! You can find everything admitted students need to know on our Admitted Student site; I’d highly encourage you to consider attending one of our upcoming admitted student events. If you can’t make one of the big events, we’d still welcome you to visit anytime in April! Even if you’ve been to campus before, your visit experience as an admitted student will be unique — I guarantee it.

For those offered a place on the wait list, I can’t emphasize enough that receiving a wait list offer from Richmond is a positive decision. This is true now more than ever. It means that the committee felt your application was competitive in a very tough pool, that you’re well qualified to be at Richmond, and that we would love for you to join our community, should space become available.

Be sure to read the wait list brochure carefully and thoroughly, and most importantly make sure you submit the Wait List Response Form in order to be considered further should the opportunity arise. One of the most commonly misunderstood things about the wait list is that you actually have to accept a place on it; only about a third of students to whom we extend offers will actually accept those offers. If you don’t accept, we’ll assume you’re not interested. (Even if you choose not to accept, we’d still appreciate it if you filled out the form and let us know where you’re planning to attend.)

To students who were not admitted, we really appreciate your interest in Richmond, but this year’s pool was extremely tough, as mentioned above. We have very limited space in the class and on the wait list. If your interest in Richmond remains high, we’d encourage you to consider the option of transferring after one full year of study at another accredited institution; if you have questions about how this would work, please feel free to contact us. We’re more than happy to help counsel, even in terms of college course selection to ensure that you’re taking transferable credits.

Questions? Post away!

Mythbusters: Selecting a Class

One of the most exciting (and daunting) tasks that admission offices face is selecting or creating a class. Each year, admission committees at selective colleges across the country are tasked with reviewing and considering thousands of applications in order to create a unique, exciting, and well-rounded incoming class for the next year.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding this selection process, particularly for highly selective colleges. Having just gone through my fifth season reviewing applications and sitting on the admission committee, I find that this is a very fresh topic on my mind, so I thought I’d share a few thoughts. For senior applicants, I hope this gives you a good sense of what we’ve been doing for the past few months; for junior and sophomore prospects, this should give you a sense of what to expect next year or the following.

A note in advance on terminology: by “selective colleges,” I mean schools with low admission rates (i.e. with applicant pools significantly larger than their first-year class size); by “selective admission,” I mean the complex process by which those colleges go about creating a class from sizable and highly qualified applicant pools.

Myth #1: Holistic consideration means that numbers are not important.

I think that, sometimes, selective colleges overemphasize the holistic nature of their admission processes. We do this mainly to form a contrast with competitive admission processes (think large public universities) that run things almost exclusively by the numbers, but I fear that our overemphasis may cause some students and parents to begin equating “holistic” with “numbers don’t matter.” In fact, grades and test scores are often the most important criteria at selective colleges, too; they’re just more balanced by consideration of curricular rigor, personal qualities, accomplishments, and experiences. At Richmond, your high school transcript is the number one factor we consider in your application; even the strongest personal achievements rarely, if ever, make up for poor grades or a lackluster curriculum. When we say we’re holistic, it means we’re looking for “both and,” not “either or.”

Myth #2: Admission profiles are good predictors of admission at selective colleges.

In light of what I just said about Myth #1, I want to check myself and also emphasize that, though academic criteria are often among the top factors selective colleges consider, it’s a mistake to think you can take a selective college’s profile and predict admission based upon it. If you look at Richmond’s academic profile, you’ll get a good sense of the type of applications we’re admitting; but for every approved application falling in the profile, there are several more just like it which are not approved.

This is what we mean when we say “selective.” Selective admission does not mean selecting the tippy-top percentage of students based on certain criteria (that would just be competitive admission, the numbers-driven model, on steroids). Selective admission means selecting from among very many top students using a wide variety of criteria. It’s a nuanced distinction, but it’s an important one.

Myth #3: Okay, so holistic consideration means that admission is determined by students’ academic and personal accomplishments.

Well, yes… generally. Those are the main criteria we consider. But there are dozens of factors that go into admission decisions at selective colleges, and some of them are quite simply outside of your control.

Often times you’ll hear admission staff try to explain selective admission with an example along the lines of, “The orchestra needed a bassoonist this year, so maybe that’s the reason one student was admitted over another.” Granted, this example is a bit of an exaggeration; rarely, if ever, is there such a specific campus need that is addressed so directly by the admission process. But every college does have institutional priorities, which can vary from year to year, and which certainly have an impact on who’s being admitted.

Perhaps there’s a particular disciplinary area (like the arts or the natural sciences) that the college is seeking to grow. Maybe there’s a specific geographic region where the college wants to expand, so students from that area are a little more likely to get in (or, for public universities, there are in-state quotas to meet). All colleges pay some level of attention to their alumni and legacy applicants (some institutions more so than others). NCAA athletic programs have varying levels of influence on admission decisions at most schools. Many colleges consider your financial situation as one factor in the puzzle (Richmond, with our need-blind admission policy, is not one of these), while others look at the level of interest you’ve expressed in attending. And you better believe that colleges are going to pay attention to students whose last names are on campus buildings.

Note that most of these examples are things you just can’t control, even with the strongest academic and personal accomplishments. While they’re not the most important factors influencing admission decisions, they are often secondary or tertiary factors that do have an impact, especially for schools seeking to select from among many qualified applicants.

Myth #4: Students who have achieved to the maximum level possible within their setting should get into any college they want. After all, they’ve done everything they possibly can.

We wish this were true. Really, we do. We wish that we had space in our first-year class for every high-achieving, deserving applicant. We spend so much time reading so many wonderful applications, and we wish we could take all of them, because they’re all so amazing. But this just isn’t possible when we have 10,200 applications and 765 spaces in our first-year class.

I think we, as a society, need to move away from the very prevalent notion that college admission is a reward for good work, a prize to be won. If we admitted every deserving student, we would have a first-year class of thousands and there wouldn’t be space for everybody on campus (not to mention the small class sizes we advertise would become a thing of the past). Every selective college faces these sorts of tough decisions. College admission is a match to be made, a journey to be taken, but should not be construed as a reward.

The consolation and good news is that there are many different colleges out there with differing criteria and differing priorities. The vast majority of our applicants are admitted to several schools, whether or not they’re admitted at Richmond. So when all is said and done, we’re confident that every student will have a home next fall, whether at Richmond or elsewhere.