Admission this year (letters are out!)

The time has finally come! Decisions left our office via postal mail last Wednesday — we were able to get them out a little earlier than our April 1 notification date — so they began reaching students Thursday and Friday and should continue to arrive through this week. As a reminder, we do not notify online. (International decisions have been sent via postal mail, but international students should also be hearing from us via e-mail.)

We had a record year for applications, with a 10% jump from last year’s pool to more than 8,600 applications. The overall quality of the pool was also higher than in previous years, so it was, without question, the most competitive year Richmond has ever seen for first-year admission.

I know there’s lots of discussion and speculation as to our target class size this year. We did over-enroll last year, when there was an unprecedented 8% spike in our yield (the number of students accepting our offers of admission jumped 8% from previous years). But we’re thrilled that there’s so much interest in Richmond, and we have plenty of space and resources to accommodate the additional students. So we are still shooting for our target class of 805 students this year.

Of course, last year’s spike in yield means that we’ve admitted a smaller overall number this year to hit 805. Combined with a 10% larger applicant pool, this means our admittance rate was quite a bit lower than last year… and, as I said, made this the most competitive year we have ever seen. I can’t tell you how amazed we all were at the thousands of incredible students and stories in our applicant pool, nor how difficult it was to select from among so many extraordinary candidates (without question the most difficult committee meetings of my three years in the admission office).

Following are some thoughts and pieces of information for students receiving various types of letters. As you have questions, please comment away, and I’ll do my best to answer as quickly, thoroughly, and candidly as possible.

Admitted Students

Congratulations!! We’re so thrilled for you. You were among the very top students in the largest and most competitive pool Richmond has ever seen, and we hope that you’ll enroll in Richmond’s Class of 2014! We have a number of excellent admitted student programs throughout the month of April; visit our Admitted Student Website to register, as well as to network with future classmates through the Class of 2014 Facebook group and to keep tabs on how the class is shaping up geographically with our Class of 2014 Google map.

Regarding Merit Scholarships

At this point, all merit aid has been awarded, with the exception of the Bonner Scholars program (I believe they’ll be notifying within the next week or so). Congratulations to our Richmond and Presidential scholarship recipients!

I know that many of our admitted students will be looking at a variety of scholarships from an array of selective colleges, so I just wanted to take a moment and say that, if you are a student admitted to Richmond, you are a student that we want to have here. Keep in mind that there are hundreds of wonderfully qualified students who have been offered a place on the wait list… you are among a highly select group. Most students admitted to Richmond receive scholarships at other colleges and universities. Richmond has chosen to structure its merit aid program a bit differently than many of our peer schools, offering a smaller number of mid-range (or “discounting”) scholarships and concentrating our resources in full-tuition awards. (There are advantages and disadvantages to this structure, as there are with any school’s merit aid structure.) Financial considerations are obviously important, but when it comes to our interest in you as an applicant, please don’t think that we aren’t interested if you didn’t receive a merit award. Every year we talk about how we wish we could give merit scholarships to every one of our admitted students. Being admitted means that we really want you here.

Wait-listed Students

A wait list decision is not a negative decision. We have far more qualified applicants in our pool than we have space for in our small first-year class of 805 students, so being offered a place on the wait list means that you are a student we’d love to have here — we just don’t have space right now.

We get a lot of calls asking us how many students we place on the wait list. The more pertinent question, however, is how many students will accept a place on the wait list. We don’t have any way of predicting this; typically around a third of students actually accept the offer, though in some years that’s gone as high as half. Typically we end up with a wait list of around 800 students. How many will we take? We don’t know — that’s why we have a wait list. Last year we were only able to take a handful of students from the wait list; the year before, we took more than 140.

For more information and answers to common questions, see the wait list brochure, as well as last year’s post Mythbusters: The Wait List.

Denied Students

Again, I’d reiterate the extreme competitiveness of this year — we’ve had to render more decisions of deny than in any previous year. We’re confident in the knowledge that there are hundreds of excellent colleges and universities across the country, and we know that you will find a wonderful home for next fall. Best wishes in your college years!


  1. Sasha
    Posted April 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I’m an international applicant from Russia. As I understood I should receive my notification letter via e-mail, right? However, it’s alredy 1st of April and I still haven’t received anything. Is it all right?

  2. Rals
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Hi! I have the same question as Sasha. It is kind of frustrating because it is the end of the week. Have the email been sent? Thanks!

    • Tom
      Posted April 6, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      Sasha and Rals,

      International students who have not heard from us may contact to check the status of their application.

      • Sasha
        Posted April 6, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Done) I’ve already sent two letters: one on the 2nd of April and another one today – still waiting for the answer…

  3. Bryan
    Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Is there an appeal proccess for denied students?

    • Tom
      Posted April 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      There is no formal appeal process for denied students; candidly, it’s rare that an appeal would be heard by the dean. If, however, there is something significantly wrong with a student’s application that would have majorly affected the admission committee’s decision — we’re talking big, like the school printed the wrong grades on the transcript or College Board’s SAT scores were in error — then an appeal might be reviewed.

      In almost all cases, however, the admission committee’s decisions are final. We have a very limited amount of space in our first-year class of 805, and with more than 8,600 applications we just can’t accommodate every applicant. If you are still intent on pursuing a Richmond education, I’d encourage you to consider transferring after a year at another institution; any of my colleagues would be glad to speak with you about how that option works.

  4. Jeanette
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    How many alumni children applied and of those, how many were admitted and denied?

    • Tom
      Posted April 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink


      I can’t release the exact numbers of how many applied and were admitted this year, but I can tell you that legacy students typically make up 6-8% of our first-year class. Admission to Richmond is highly competitive, and we do give special consideration to those with legacy ties in our admission process. Historically, our admission rate for legacy students has been nearly twice as high as our regular admission rate (this year our regular admission rate was 32%). We would never admit a student who is not a competitive applicant, but in the process of selecting from among many similarly-qualified applicants, legacy status is certainly one factor we take into account.


  5. Clara
    Posted April 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    I am writing to enquire about my daughter’s situation, as she has been admitted to several Universities while being on the Waiting List of some other few universities. I would need to ask you what happens if she enlists in one of the universities to which she has been admitted, but subsequent to being accepted to one of the universities previously keeping her on the Waiting List decides to enlist to the latter. What steps is the university to which she has submitted the deposit and enlisted going to follow?
    Thank you for your time and understanding. I look forward to your reply.

    Yours Faithfully,


    • Tom
      Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink


      Universities have varying policies on withdrawing from enrollment, so you would need to check with the specific university at which your daughter plans to submit her deposit. Enrollment is not legally binding, and many institutions experience withdrawals throughout the summer months as wait list activity occurs. My guess is that most institutions will not refund a deposit (Richmond does not, nor do a majority of our peer institutions); some may require you to submit a formal letter to the dean in order to withdraw.

  6. Karime Nava
    Posted May 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Hello Tom!
    I have been waitlisted at University of Richmond. I kept myself on the waitlist, and I am 100% sure this is where i want to go. By when do you think I will hear back from University of Richmond?

    • Tom
      Posted May 3, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink


      We’re continuing to monitor the situation closely now that the May 1 enrollment deadline has passed – deposits continue to come in through the mail. We’ll contact all students on the wait list by early to mid-June to let them know of our status by that point in time; of course, as we go to the wait list, students to whom we make offers would hear from us sooner.

      A lot of folks wonder why it can take so long to hear from us. Keep in mind that most colleges are trying to hit a very particular target number for their class, so there can be a lot of back-and-forth activity during the month of May. When College A takes students from its wait list, it may enroll students who already deposited at College B, which means that College B loses some students and will now take students from its wait list (which will, in turn, affect College C). This is why wait list activity sometimes doesn’t happen for several weeks after May 1; it can take some time for things to shift around and settle down.

      We’re definitely hopeful to take students from our wait list this year, given how competitive admission was – we know that there are a lot of phenomenal students waiting to hear from us. We’ll see how things shape up over the next few weeks.


  7. Christopher Bahlo
    Posted May 4, 2010 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Could you please tell me how many students accepted the wait list offer this year?

    • Tom
      Posted May 4, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      We don’t release the exact number on our wait list. It can vary quite a bit from year to year, but when you average you get around 800 students accepting the offer in any given year.

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