Patience: Definitely a virtue at this time of year

For college-bound high school seniors, the months of September through January are typically characterized by lots of work and activity — final campus visits, the writing of essays, perhaps one last SAT or ACT test date, and, finally, the actual completion of college applications.

Then it’s our turn. For us in the admission office, the months of January to March are characterized by extensive amounts of work, activity, and files — reading files, second-reading files, discussing files in committee, dreaming about files… you get the picture. For applicants, these are the Months of Waiting (a term I coined during my first year in admission). I remember, as a high school senior, not really being sure what to do with myself during those months; I was so used to thinking about the college process, it was almost strange to have the time to focus on other things.

But this is exactly what I would encourage all of you seniors to do. I know it’s hard, but try not to spend your time worrying about college acceptances or fretting about the future. The ball’s in our court now; there’s really not much you can do until April. Be patient and confident in the knowledge that there are hundreds of excellent institutions of higher education across the country — you’ll have a home next fall — and focus instead on what’s right in front of you. These are the last few months of your high school career. Enjoy them! Live them to the fullest! Don’t take your friends or family for granted; savor your accomplishments, relish being the top dogs in school, and enjoy your senior activities. (Oh, and make sure you keep your senior grades up… we will be looking at those over the summer…)

And leave the worrying to us. This is both an exciting and a draining time of year for admission offices. We have a huge task in front of us and, as I mentioned in another recent post, we take our jobs very seriously. Creating a class requires a tremendous amount of effort, concentration, and cooperation over the course of a few short months — I can say truthfully that these months are the most intense of the year for me — and part of the reason this undertaking is so great is the gravity and impact of what we’re doing. It’s not easy, but it’s done with great care, concern, patience, and yes, occasionally, some worrying and fretting.

(For another great perspective on this time of year, for both students and admission staff, check out a recent blog entry from Henry Broaddus, Dean of Admission at another fine institution not too far down Interstate 64 from here. I think he captures things really well.)


  1. Catherine Mahony
    Posted February 28, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I was selected as a semi-finalist for the Richmond Scholars, and I was wondering whether the finalists were notified yet and if those not selected as finalists are notified as well.
    By the way, I love reading this blog; it is so helpful! Thanks for the help.

    • Tom
      Posted March 2, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Glad you enjoy the blog! Most finalists have been notified already. Those not selected as finalists will also be notified this week.

  2. Sean Sharkey
    Posted March 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Tom, If I was not selected as a Richmond semifinalist do I still have an opportunity for the Presidential Scholarships? How are the Presidential scholarships selected?

    Thanks, Sean

    • Tom
      Posted March 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


      Absolutely. All applicants are considered for the Presidential Scholars program – regardless of whether they applied by December 15, and regardless of whether they were selected as Richmond Scholars semi-finalists or finalists. Presidential Scholarships typically go to the most competitive students in our pool academically – students with the most rigorous programs, highest grades, and strong standardized testing. Personal qualities and accomplishments are also taken into account.

      Every year, some of our Presidential Scholarships go to select Richmond Scholar semi-finalists and finalists who are not ultimately selected for RS; some go to students who may not have exhibited the “above-and-beyond” qualities the RS faculty committees are looking for, but who are still very strong academically; some go to students who did not apply by the December 15 deadline for RS consideration, but who are among the top students in our applicant pool; and some go to international students who are among the top students in our applicant pool.

      Hope that’s helpful!


  3. Ahshan Contractor
    Posted March 22, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Tom,

    When will my decision be mailed, and through what method?


    • Tom
      Posted March 24, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink


      Decisions will be mailed in the very near future. All domestic letters will be sent via the U. S. Postal Service; international applicants should keep an eye on postal mail and e-mail, since our method of notification can vary a little bit more outside the United States.

      Keep an eye on the admission Twitter feed – I’ll do my best to announce it once letters go in the mail.


      • Rachael
        Posted March 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for keeping us posted. I am so excited .

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