- Class: Sophomore
- Major: English
- Gender: F
- High School: Marist High School, Eugene OR
- Transfer Student: N
When I first arrived at UR as a wide-eyed freshman, my initial impression was: "Wow! It's just like summer camp - but I get to stay here all year long!" Nearly two years later, I've been slightly disillusioned by the intensity of academia, but still hold the same general impression of Richmond as a welcoming home away from home. Richmond may be somewhat of a "bubble," after all, but this can be a good thing in many ways. The fact that the majority of students live on campus lends to a great feeling of community, and also means that there's nothing holding you back from fully engaging yourself in all the enriching opportunities of college life. No, the city of Richmond isn't the hippest place around, and the weather here is completely bi-polar (yes, it has been known to snow here one day and be 80 degrees the next), but I've come to really appreciate the campus and the area as "my own," and I've found the school to be an incredibly supportive environment both personally and academically. Personally, I like the size of the school; my classes are small and especially in the courses within my majors, I generally know about half the class from the first day of the term. Walking to class you'll always recognize a friendly face, and although you'll always recognize lots of people around campus, the effect isn't stifling - there's always plenty more students to get to know.
Yes, it's sad - ask many students here and they'll haughtily reply that they should have gone to Harvard or another such institution. Indeed, UR's often been called the safety school of the Ivy Leaguers, and admittedly it was a safety school for me and several of my friends. But okay, we're here now, and I know very few who are dissatisfied with the rigor of academic life at the school. In keeping with its liberal arts curriculum, Richmond has an extensive set of general education requirements - some students like this built-in opportunity to explore other disciplines but I believe most see them as at least somewhat of a nuisance. These include Social Analysis, Math, Science, Foreign Language, Composition, Arts, and History, I believe, although students can apply AP credit to these or test out of select classes. I didn't have to take a lot of Gen Ed classes myself, but was definitely annoyed to be stuck in Bio 100 last fall looking at algae under a microscope and writing a 6 page paper about a tree instead of taking Art History or a news writing class. My advice: definitely definitely take your AP or IB tests! They serve you well here. In addition to the Gen Eds, all freshmen students are subjected to the common bonding experience of Core class (it's currently a year long, but this may change). The reading for this class is your basic Nietzsche, Freud, Darwin, with a spattering of novels, but depending on your professor, experiences will vary widely. I'm an English and French major, and really love the classes within my departments. I know the lecture classes in the math and science departments are generally much larger, but for me the liberal arts classes have ranged between 8 to 25 students. I really appreciate the relationship I have with professors here - they genuinely care about their students and some that I haven't had for class since first semester will still greet me by name when I see them around campus. I haven't had a professor yet who wasn't accessible to his students - I was particularly impressed when a French teacher last fall came in on a Sunday to help the students in our class with technical difficulties on a project. I know that in the upper levels, this student-teacher relationship only continues to grow, and I know seniors this year who have lunch with their profs and who have travel plans with them after graduation! There are certainly many students here who are in school for a set career path - we have a Business School and a Leadership School, both of which have very good programs. Students within the Liberal Arts programs might not necessarily have a certain career in mind, but have several resources available to them in the career services center and the experience and support of their professors. Students in the Arts departments generally let their interests first determine their major, and then try to go from there in determining a career path. I feel there's a good balance here between learning for learning's sake and preparing for life in the real world. The involvement of students in academic and cultural events outside of classes attests to this.
Richmond is definitely a predominantly "preppy" school, and everyone is usually very well dressed and put together. Coming here from a hippie town in Oregon was a small shock to my system last year, I'll admit - I certainly wasn't used to girls wearing sundresses to class and found it silly that they chose to teeter on heels while traversing the cobblestone hills on campus. I was also introduced to the phenomenon of Vera Bradley, (which has after many years finally trickled over to the West Coast, as I discovered over Winter Break) which no Richmond girl can be without and a vast array of which lines the shelves in our campus bookstore. The impression I have of the student body is predominantly white, Christian, and wealthy - yes, a little on the homogenous side. There is a significant population of international students, who are great people to hang out with, but there seems to be an unspoken segregation between the different cultural groups on campus, which isn't necessarily the fault of any one group. In terms of religion, the University has a Christian chapel and the students most active in their faith are Christian, but there is also a specific "Interfaith" room for the use of several different religious groups in their services, which have followings as well. Politically, I feel there is a good balance between liberal and conservative students, and that students are politically aware and involved - in a polite sort of way, and never through anything too demonstrative.
The Best Things
The great feeling of communtiy and opportunities for involvement.
The Worst Things
The crazy weather. I have to keep my winter coats next to my summer clothes in my closet.