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Answers to Your Toughest Questions About Richmond

By Beth Anne Spacht

October 29, 2018

Guest Post by Charlie Broaddus, Admission Counselor

As admission counselors, we spend most of September and October traveling the country and the world to talk with high school students about the University of Richmond. Our goal is always to be as informative and genuine as possible, helping prospective students understand exactly what the Richmond experience is like.

I’m fairly new to our Office of Admission, but as a Richmond grad, I thought it would be pretty easy to answer students’ questions. And sometimes it was – questions about student life, the City of Richmond, or UR sports teams were some of my favorite. Other questions weren’t so easy. They got at the heart of what it’s like to be a student at Richmond, but required a lot of thought for me to answer.

Here are three of the toughest questions I heard this fall, and my honest responses.

1.  What’s your least favorite thing about Richmond?

The first time a student asked me this question, I sat for a few seconds searching for words. It’s important to me that I’m genuine and honest with students, so I try to never take the easy way out. And yet, after what felt like 60 seconds of silence, I answered:

“I actually love everything about Richmond.”

As expected, the student who asked tried to hide a scoff. My answer seemed insincere and unoriginal. I felt I had some explaining to do, because I actually did mean what I said.

The truth is that, during my four years as a student and two as an alumnus and staff member, I’ve found the University of Richmond filled with people who want to create an inclusive, evolving, and beneficial community. As with any school, Richmond has its shortcomings from time to time. But what continually impresses me about the administration, professors, and staff is that they actively listen to the student voice and respond quickly and appropriately every time they learn of something that’s lacking in the community.

“How can I complain about a school that’s always willing to admit its weaknesses and does everything in its power to get better?” That’s what I told the student who asked the question, and she seemed much more satisfied than after my original answer. Some questions just don’t have a simple answer.

2.  Can you describe a typical Richmond student?

This question is hard for everyone on our team to answer, but it’s an important one. As a prospective student, you want to know who will be sitting next to you in class, or why you might belong here. But putting Richmond students into boxes, or classifying them all with similar characteristics, is a difficult challenge rooted in the diversity of our student body.

Our 3,000 undergraduates represent 47 states and and 71 countries. The Class of 2022 is composed of 35% students of color (including 9% international citizens), and 15% first-generation students. They come from urban and rural areas, different socioeconomic groups, and even speak a variety of languages (one in five students are non-native English speakers). With that many backgrounds and stories, it’s a tall task to try to describe them all at once.

Even with that diversity, a few themes do stand out among our students. They’re ambitious, seeking to accomplish as much as possible and make real change in their communities. They’re collaborative, more likely to lend a helping hand to a classmate than adopt a competitive mindset. They’re social, finding time to enjoy themselves and build a diverse group of friends. And they’re intellectual, capable of excelling in the classroom while using their own perspective to shape their contributions to the community.

It’s a long-winded answer, but it’s the best I can do to capture the spirit of our student body. They aren’t one-dimensional, and they bring a lot to the table – for that reason, they’re hard to describe. And that’s a good thing.

3.  Why did you choose Richmond?

This question took me a while to find a satisfying answer. I initially chose Richmond for two reasons: to play football for a Division I program, and to get a good education. But when I was a high school senior, I probably knew much more about what made a good football team than I did about what made a good education. My story is also unique – I was recruited to walk on as a member of our football team, but I decided to stop playing after one season.

As I thought more about my answer, I realized what brought me to campus isn’t as important as why I chose to stay. On my tour, my mom and I were in awe of the beauty of the campus and the kind, welcoming nature of everyone we met.

I learned quickly that I had stumbled into one of the top universities in the country. My professors were warm and helpful, my friends were diverse and driven, and the entire community seemed to be working in my favor.

Considering how little I knew about Richmond (and college in general) before becoming a Spider, I was very lucky to have ended up at such an incredible school. A big reason I work as an admission counselor now is to make sure prospective students understand the benefits of Richmond, so it won’t take luck for them to find their way here.

Tags: Why Richmond?

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Tom NicholasTom Nicholas
Associate 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
Senior 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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