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College Spotlight: University of Richmond

March 5th, 2024
A yard of Richmond University

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Educational Advocates

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College Spotlight: University of Richmond

A yard of Richmond University

The University of Richmond, located in Richmond VA, has approximately 3,200 undergrad and grad students.

Pulling up in the admissions parking lot at the University of Richmond, I saw signs greeting potential applicants by name, and parked my car by a sign that read, “Reserved for a Future Spider.” Of the dozens of colleges I’ve visited, Richmond is the only one to greet people by name in the parking lot, making them feel a connection with the school before they even walk in the door. When I mentioned the sign to the student checking us in she said, “We like to make an impression.”

The University of Richmond, with its green quads ringed by harmonious red-brick buildings, many with sleek modern interiors, does make an impression, and its reputation around the country has been growing. The school’s acceptance rate has been steadily dropping; last year’s rate of 24.4% is its lowest yet. 

As the student running the information session explained to us, all freshmen start out in the School of Arts and Sciences, and then during their freshman or sophomore year, choose to stay in that school or move to either the Jepson School of Leadership or the Robins School of Business. The school offers a wide range of majors, from philosophy, economics, politics, and law; to German paired with international business; to elementary education; to environmental science. 

On our tour I noticed a comfortable lounge with a living moss wall outside a smoothie bar that looked right out of L.A.; red Adirondack chairs dotting the grassy courtyards, and a campus center with an enormous glass wall, overlooking a pond and fall foliage.

For a university, Richmond is on the small side, with 3,200 students and an average class size of 16. Our guide told us that her largest class so far has been 25 students. Richmond has an endowment hovering around 3 billion dollars, in the top 30 institutions in the country. Maybe that’s why the campus has a feeling of fanciness to it. On our tour I noticed a comfortable lounge with a living moss wall outside a smoothie bar that looked right out of L.A.; red Adirondack chairs dotting the grassy courtyards, and a campus center with an enormous glass wall, overlooking a pond and fall foliage. Our guide mentioned that the school has eight different dining options, with a lot of made-for-you bowls, a la Chipotle. 

If the campus feels well-funded, so do the school’s offerings. Some students get the chance to go on an art acquisition trip to New York City, to select and bring back art for the University of Richmond’s art museum. If students commit to doing a certain amount of community service in the local area through the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, they will receive merit aid. Students who study abroad get a $1,000 stipend (in addition, any aid they receive at the University of Richmond goes with them abroad). The school also guarantees each student $5,000 to fund a summer internship. This fits in with what feels like a bit of a professional—as opposed to classic liberal arts—emphasis on campus. By far the most popular major on campus is business administration. Not only can students receive writing support, but they can get support to bolster their public speaking skills. And our guide pointed out that Richmond students on average do well upon graduation. For example, while the national average for getting into medical school is 43%, the average for Richmond students and alumni applying is 80%. 

The Univ of Richmond is the only school in the country with a spider as its mascot.

Our guide told us that most students live on campus, and that there’s a rich campus life. She mentioned campus bands playing in the dining hall, an on-campus bar for students over 21, free fitness classes for all students, and a lot of school spirit at games. Richmond is a Division 1 school, and its annual football game against William and Mary constitutes the South’s oldest rivalry. Thirty percent of Richmond students are in sororities or fraternities, though the organizations are non-residential. The university lies a couple of miles outside of the city of Richmond, Virginia’s capital city, but provides multiple shuttles into town each day. There is tons to do, from community service and internships in state government to going to one of the city’s many fine museums (including an excellent art museum and a museum of the Civil War) to going thrifting to eating out at one of the city’s great cafes or restaurants. Both within the city and outside it, people can bike, whitewater kayak, hike, and rock climb.

In all, there’s a lot that makes Richmond stand out, from its strong academics and beautiful campus to its strong, pre-professional programs and the vibrant city right next door. The students there seem to love being Richmond Spiders—judging by the number of spider sweatshirts worn, and the number of spiders decorating walls and banners on campus. With all that sets it apart, it’s only fitting that Richmond is said to be the only college in the country with the spider as a mascot.


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