For Those on the Fence

At this point in time, there’s probably not much more I can say here to convince you to apply to Richmond. You’ve likely decided one way or the other already – though, if you’re a high school senior visiting our site right now, perhaps you’re not quite decided yet. I’m guessing you’ve received lots of brochures and e-mails from us – along with those from dozens of other colleges – and, while I’m proud of the fact that we don’t have to exaggerate in any of those communications to tell you how amazing Richmond is, I know that there are a lot of great colleges out there with a lot of great things to say. You’ve heard it all, from a lot of different places.

So all I’m going to do right now is something I don’t often do: step outside of the admission profession and write to you briefly as a University of Richmond alumnus.

I’ve spent the last four and a half years of my life trying to convince high school students to apply to Richmond and to enroll at Richmond. I haven’t been doing this for the money – there’s not much to be had in college admission, though a stable job in this economy isn’t to be laughed at either – nor, when I’m honest with myself, have I been doing this because of a deep passion for the college admission profession itself (though many of my colleagues have that passion, and I admire them for it). My greatest satisfaction in this job, and my greatest motivation, is simply that I love my alma mater. In short, I want you to apply to Richmond because it’s an amazing place, and I know that firsthand.

I had an incredible undergraduate experience here. For a kid who hadn’t ever heard of the University of Richmond when he started his college search, I found in Richmond every bit of the academic, intellectual, and residential community I was seeking in a college. I made fast friends, the kind who sit in the dining hall for hours on a Friday afternoon talking world politics, literary analysis, or scientific ethics (but can be found a little later playing intramural soccer, playing Xbox, or sledding down the Boatwright Lawn on the trays that recently carried their meals). Professors transcended the categories of teacher and mentor and became friends – and the time spent in their offices conversing one-on-one was just as much a part of the learning process as the time spent in the classroom. I helped create two independent studies, and when it came time to study abroad, I was able to do so with very little red tape and a great deal of financial support from the University. I think, as a student here, you just get used to the vast resources available to you; it’s only when you talk to friends at other colleges that you remember how unique it is to have such breadth of opportunities combined with such personal attention (I’m thinking especially, from my own experience, of study abroad, research with faculty, career services, well-funded student organizations, and the sincere, holistic concern for students’ well-being and growth in all aspects of their lives that permeates University staff and administrators).

Some of my fondest memories, if I may wax nostalgic for a moment (feel free to skip this paragraph), include that first summer phone call with my freshman roommate (awkward for the first two minutes until we realized that we’d get along famously; now one of my best friends, he’s coming to visit in a few weeks before heading to the Ukraine to serve with the Peace Corps and finish his Master’s in International Affairs); meeting with three other students and a professor at 7 a.m. on Monday mornings for an independent, self-created study of Anglo-Saxon and Beowulf (not because we were morning people, but because that’s the only time we could all meet and we were just that passionate about the subject); participating in all-night marathon reading of Paradise Lost organized by our Milton professor (he brought the caffeine, we brought the food); spending a deeply immersed semester abroad at the Universität Münster in Germany (during the 2006 World Cup!) and visiting Richmond friends in Stockholm, London, Paris, and Edinburgh; spending Saturday afternoons in quirky coffee shops downtown or relaxing on the James (and realizing, sometime during my senior year, that I loved the city and wanted to stay in Richmond after graduating); staying awake for nearly 72 hours straight in seclusion with my senior year roommate completing our theses (mine a comparative analysis of British and German fairy tales, Cornelia Funke, and Harry Potter, his a historiographical study of the Opium Wars that went on to win the American Historical Association’s top prize for undergraduate writing); gathering with fellow alumni to watch the Spiders win a national championship in football just a year and a half after we graduated (and losing my voice in the process); watching with pride (and some surprise) as both of my younger sisters became Spiders themselves (one a biochemistry major now doing AIDS research in a top graduate program, the other a classical civilization/studio art double-major now working as a graphic designer); and, most personally and recently, marrying a close friend from college (who has since graduation become my best friend; our wedding party was composed almost entirely of Richmond alumni).

Rankings and reputation and success stories and accolades aside, the University of Richmond is an incredibly special place and an incredibly special community. I didn’t necessarily know that when I applied – but I’m so very, very glad that I chose to apply. And the fact that I’m still here, nine years after applying, is in part my own testament to just how special this place is.

So apply. If you end up here, you won’t regret it.


  1. Hadi
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I dont want to get off topic here, but what i wanted to know was when the results for the Richmond Scholars be comming out?

    • Tom
      Posted January 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink


      At this point in time, all Richmond Scholars semi-finalists have been notified via e-mail that they have advanced. If, however, you’re asking about finalist notification, that will occur later in February, once the faculty committees have had time to thoroughly review and discuss all semi-finalists. Recipients are usually notified after the interview process in mid-March. More to come in a future blog post, so keep an eye out.


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