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New Richmond Question: Tell us about Spiders

By Beth Anne Spacht

June 30, 2014

Approaching the application process can feel like a daunting long list of things that have to be written, checked, edited, and arranged. So, it can be helpful to compartmentalize your “to do” list into two parts: the things you can control and the things that you have to manage (more on this to come – stay tuned for new blog posts!)

In the meantime, I want to start out with one of the things within your control: the college essay. Although the 2014-15 Common Application won’t be available until August 1, essays are one of those things you can get a jump on ahead of time. Good news, everyone! Richmond’s essay prompts are up and active for fall 2014.

Now, you may have noticed that I said prompts: plural. This does not mean that you have to write two essays specifically for Richmond (though you still must compose a Common Application essay and a separate Richmond Question – two in total). But if you’re like me, you enjoy having options. This year, we’re catering to the choosers among us by offering a pick from one of two cool prompts.  

Your options for the Richmond Question are as follows:

1.)    “From small, faculty-led classes to funded undergraduate research, the University of Richmond offers the benefits of both a liberal arts college and the opportunities and resources typically found in large research universities. Tell us how you would utilize these resources in order to reach your goals.”

OR

2.)    “Tell us about Spiders.”

I’m particularly excited about the latter option, although I believe that both provide an opportunity to be wonderfully creative. Ultimately, these prompts get to the crux of why you, individually, are interested in Richmond. What makes it so special? Why is it the right fit? Since we’ve offered tips on option #1 in the past, I encourage you to check out last year’s post. As for option #2, how about a few pointers?

First and foremost, in case you didn’t know, the Spider is our school mascot, coined to describe a Richmond baseball pitcher who was all arms and legs, giving the appearance of a spindly spider. Today, our fierce but friendly mascot is better known around campus as WebstUR. Now, I mention this not because we’re looking for a history lesson on our mascot – nor are we necessarily hoping for a scientific breakdown on spiders that can easily be found on Wikipedia. But what do spiders (or what does being a Richmond Spider) mean to you?  We’re looking for your definition. You can take this any direction you choose; it’s intentionally designed to give you an open space where you can craft something personal and special. There is no “correct” response – just original answers.

My last piece of advice: when I first started college, one of my professors shared a comforting anecdote. Etymologically, the word “essay” derives from the French infinitive for “to try” or “to attempt.” Therefore, an essay is a chance to put your best writing foot forward. We don’t expect perfection, but we do expect time and care to be put into crafting your response. Your essays are a reflection of yourself, so you’ll want them to be as polished as possible.  

So start now, ask yourself meaningful questions, and think about what it is that you really want to share. We request supplemental essays for a reason – to get to the heart of why Richmond is the place for you. The essay is your opportunity to reveal something that cannot otherwise be gleaned from the rest of your application. Your essay is also your big moment to speak directly to the admission committee, so be sure to think about how you can leverage this space to reduce redundancy and deliver something different. For many of us, the essay is our favorite portion of the application to read, specifically because it is so individual. Remember, we only need one response, but it might be a helpful practice to start writing both and see which one jives with your style. We hope that this becomes your chance to have fun showing us creatively why Richmond is the place where YOU belong.  

Tags: Admission Tips 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.

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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

The University of Richmond is a highly ranked liberal arts university offering an extraordinary combination of the liberal arts with law, business, leadership studies, and continuing education. The university is consistently named a best value in higher education by leading publications.

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