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Application FAQ

By Beth Anne Spacht

November 11, 2013

As fall travel finally winds down in the Office of Admission, it is hard to believe that two important application dates are already quickly approaching: Nov. 15 Early Decision (EDI) and Dec. 1 (Richmond Scholars Merit Aid Consideration). Each year, our “road warrior” (i.e. vagabond) status leads to tons of great questions both on the road and in the office, most specifically surrounding our application process. Sometimes the questions are logistical, but oftentimes they are broadly-based as students seek to discover if Richmond is the right college fit. We’re glad you’re asking, and we’re here to help.

To guide you as you shift into high-gear on the application front, I’ve polled my coworkers and come up with the following list of the most frequently asked questions we’ve received this fall. (Note: questions whose answers are readily available on the admission website are not included here.)

What is the word limit on the Richmond Question?  

We’ve heard this one quite a bit this season. The answer: we have a maximum word limit of 650 for our Richmond Question. There is no set minimum; we recommend writing as much as you feel will thoroughly and thoughtfully answer the prompt. Typically, this equals out to more than a paragraph and no more than 2 pages. The crux of the Richmond Question is “Why Richmond?” but remember that we ultimately want to learn about you. Check out our previous blog post on Richmond Question “dos and don’ts” for more helpful advice and details on what we’re looking for with this prompt.

Are interviews required?  What about SAT II Subject Tests?

No and no. If you have already interviewed with a current student, officer, or alumni representative, that’s wonderful; it’s a great way to learn more about Richmond. If not, no worries. You do not need to make a separate trip to campus just to interview, as it does not have a formal bearing on the application process. If you have taken SAT II Subject Tests for another institution and would like us to see those scores, excellent. But once again, it will not hurt you in the application process if you have no SAT II tests to your name. They are not required (except, in some cases, for homeschooled applicants).  

How do I apply to the Robins School of Business/Jepson School of Leadership Studies/a specific major at Richmond?

You don’t. That would be against our philosophy as a liberal arts college – we don’t want high school seniors to lock themselves into any major or school, wholly or in part. The intended major field(s) you indicate on your application have no bearing on the admission process; they just give us a sense of your interests. As high school seniors, you simply apply to the University of Richmond – one and done. All enrolled students automatically matriculate into the School of Arts and Sciences for their first year, and then decide if they want to declare a major in the Robins School or Jepson School come year two. Introductory-level courses in all of our schools are open to all students immediately, so if you know exactly you want to pursue you can hit the ground running. If not, the pressure is off.

If you want to declare a major in the Robins School your sophomore year, there are a few minimal requirements to fulfill; the Jepson School of Leadership also has a secondary admission process, but this does not take place until the sophomore year and admission to the program is not hyper-selective (typically around 70-80 students are selected from 100-110 applicants). None of our majors or schools have quotas, except for Jepson. We have a very open curriculum, so you can begin pursuing courses in all of our schools as early as your first year. And regardless of what you’re studying in future years, upper-division courses in all of our departments and schools are always available to all students.

Where do I indicate on my application that I want to be considered for Richmond Scholars?

Technically, nowhere – but be aware of our timeline. At the end of the day you fall into one of our three application plans: Fall Early Decision (EDI), Winter Early Decision (EDII), or Regular Decision. You compete within your own applicant pool for admission. However, in order to be considered for the Richmond Scholars Program we must receive your completed application with all the bells and whistles by December 1. All applications that we have received as of December 1 will automatically be tagged and considered for the Richmond Scholars Program. There’s no box you need to check (once again, it’s not a separate application plan or timeline, so you just indicate whether you’re applying regular or early decision); there’s no additional application; and there are no extra requirements.

Are we clear? Just submit your application by December 1. We’ll do the rest.

Will I receive my admission decision earlier if I apply by December 1 for Richmond Scholars?

No. The Richmond Scholars December 1 deadline is not a separate application plan; it’s just an early deadline so our faculty committees have the time they need to select Richmond Scholars semi-finalists. If you apply EDI (November 15), you’ll receive your admission decision around December 15. If you apply EDII (January 15), you’ll receive your admission decision around February 15. And if you apply Regular Decision, you’ll receive your admission decision around April 1. We’re not on a rolling system, so you won’t hear from us any sooner, even if you apply by December 1. It takes time and care to select a class from a huge and talented applicant pool, and most of our (RD) decisions are not finalized until March, when we have the entire context and scope of the applicant pool on the table.  

No matter what plan you’re under, if you apply by December 1, you’ll hear about Richmond Scholars semi-finalist status by late January or early February. If you don’t hear back, do not panic; only a few hundred students are selected to progress to the semi-finalist stage. Even if you do not progress to become a Richmond Scholar semifinalist, please know that you are still being considered for other merit-based opportunities including, most prominently, the Presidential Scholarship.

I applied Regular Decision and now I want to commit under Fall/Winter Early Decision. Is this possible?

Absolutely. Lots of students worry that this will be complicated, but it’s actually quite simple to change your application plan from Regular to Early Decision, or from Early to Regular, as long as you do so before the given deadline. Just contact our office and let us know you want to change; if you’re moving from Regular to Early, you’ll also need to submit the Early Decision Contract (and first quarter/trimester grades if it’s EDI). Once all three required signatures are on the contract, it can be emailed to application@richmond.edu or faxed/mailed to us for processing. That’s it!

If I apply Early Decision, can I submit Regular or Early Action applications to other colleges?

Yes – unless you're looking at a restrictive early action plan, which can't be combined with a binding early decision agreement.

Once you’re admitted under an Early Decision plan, you’re expected to enroll at that institution and withdraw all applications from other colleges. But until you’re admitted, the binding Early Decision contract does not take effect, and you can apply to as many institutions as you’d like (under non-binding plans, of course. You can only apply ED to one college.) This is only fair – if you’re not admitted to your ED school, you’ll need to have your options open at other colleges, and some of those application deadlines might come while you’re still waiting to hear on your ED application. Most colleges, including Richmond, will allow ED applicants to apply Early Action to other schools as well, because EA is non-binding.

Will you consider my November SAT/ACT scores if I apply Fall Early Decision?

Yes, but make sure you have them rush-delivered so they arrive in time for consideration.

Does Early Decision improve my odds of acceptance? How does the binding contract work? What about financial considerations?

See our Early Decision webpage, and be sure to contact your regional admission officer if you’re thinking about applying ED. We’re glad to answer your questions and help determine if Early Decision is the best option for you.

Final words of advice: you’d be remiss not to apply by December 1. Any other questions? Go ahead and post them!

Tags: Application Process

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Senior Assistant Director of Admission 


A Richmond alumnus (Class of 2007), Tom has been working and blogging for the Office of Admission since he graduated. He loves his alma mater and the city that shares its name.

Learn more about Tom


Beth Anne SpachtBeth Anne Spacht
Assistant Director of Admission


Beth Anne was a double major at Richmond (English and Latin American & Iberian Studies) and now enjoys helping prospective students discover the best of her alma mater.

Learn more about Beth Anne

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