An aerial view of Richmond's campus in the fall

"How's Your Biology Program?" ... and Other Questions to Rethink

September 9, 2022
A post by Rachel Ristow, Associate Director of Admission

Fall – it’s a new academic year! Fresh notebooks, cool air, the joy of reconnecting with friends! Fall also means that our admission officers are gearing up to hit the road and visit your high school, the local college fair, or your neighborhood coffee shop for a quick Spider Chat. Whether you are a senior polishing your admission essay or a junior starting the college search process, fall is a great time to make connections with your admission officer at the University of Richmond and other colleges you might be applying to this fall.

You probably have many questions, and it is our job to answer them all. We want to help you discover whether UR is the right fit. However, while there are no "silly" questions, not all questions are created equal. Some don’t answer what you really want to know. Here are some ways to turn that less-than-awesome question into one that will impress your admission officer this fall:

1) "How’s your biology program?"

"How’s your [insert intended major] program?" is not a good way to figure out how that program would be a good fit for you. Instead, try "What are chemistry professors currently researching?", "Do psychology students find that their professors are accessible outside of class time?", or "Do business students find internships after their first year?" Questions that go beyond the surface level can give you more insight into what students are doing in their classes. Oftentimes, these questions lead to bigger picture conversations about outcomes beyond the classroom, such as internship and job opportunities! 

2) "What’s the average class size?"

In all fairness, this question is okay – and admission officers quote average class sizes all. the. time. – but let’s dive deeper. Average class size is typically reported as an average of all courses from first to senior year. Next time you are at a college fair try, "What is the student to faculty ratio?", "What is the largest class offered?", "How large is a typical first-year class?", or (especially if you are talking to a current student) "Do you feel like your professors get to know you?"

3) "What’s there to do on the weekend?"

What do you do now on the weekend? You’ll probably continue to do some of those things in college. You’ll meet friends with similar interests or friends that’ll push you to do new things! You might find out that you’re a clutch Seeker on the Quidditch field, or that you love riding the Class IV rapids that run through Richmond’s downtown. Think about asking, "How many students live on campus all four years?" On-campus residency greatly affects campus life. With about 90% of our students living on campus all four years at Richmond, involvement in clubs and organizations is high, ensuring a vibrant campus experience no matter what your interests are or will become.

I’ll leave you with this parting message: think about what you want to find out about a college or university and ask that question. Be specific and challenge your admission officer! We may have to follow up with you later, but this is just to ensure that we answer your questions accurately and that you get a better sense of what life is like as a Richmond Spider!