University of Richmond, VA
University highlight as contributed by Ana Neferu, class of 2012 & Catalina Cumpanasoiu and Alexandra Badiceanu, class of 2015, University of Richmond, and featured in the Undergraduate Newsletter, Summer-Fall 2011 issue (available here).
Right now, no other school in the U.S. enjoys as much media attention as the University of Richmond. President Barack Obama had his most recent speech here on campus! He was invited on campus by the former Virginia Governor and current Senate Candidate, who is a professor here. But the university has much more to offer than political leadership. It has already become our home.
Located in a suburb of Richmond, the capital of Virginia, 2-3 hours away from Washington, D.C., the University was formed from the union of a former all-boys college with a former all-girls college, historically separated just by a lake and conservative mentality. Originally just another Virginian school, University of Richmond now enrolls about 3500 students from 47 U.S. states and 70 countries and is rapidly assaulting national liberal arts college rankings, U.S. News currently situating it on #27.
As proven by rankings, this is a great university, but it is much more than numbers. The people here make everything worth it. The professors are truly passionate about their subjects and can make you enthusiastic even for a subject you would normally hate or find boring. The small teacher: student ratio gives you the opportunity to get to know your professor. It is so useful to be able to talk to your teacher whenever you want or to ask for a piece of advice regarding your homework, project, or just life.
UR has an excellent but challenging academic program. Undergraduates can get a degree in one of three schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the Robins School of Business (ranked No. 12 by BusinessWeek), and the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, the only one of its kind in the United States. All students start in the School of Arts and Sciences, but when choosing a primary major, they are formally admitted to the school the major is associated with. Regardless of the school they formally belong to, anyone can take courses in any other school, or major or minor across different schools. Freshmen choose each semester a first-year seminar from dozens of options across departments, and everyone has to take at least one class in 6 different "fields of study" to ensure exposure to all liberal arts skills. Classes have a high emphasis on interdisciplinarity and cooperation, learning by community service, or solving real life issues as part of assignments.
Complementing academics, UR has one of the biggest undergraduate summer research programs in the country. Last summer, the university funded 217 students, with many others being funded by professors' external grants. You can do research in any discipline, from sciences to history, art, or foreign languages. Most research takes place on campus, but sometimes your project makes you travel. Some of our friends spent their summer studying climate change effects on plants in an Oregon forest, scuba diving in Florida Keys to study tropical reef sponges, studying indigenous populations in Central America, or doing archaeological excavations in Greece. The very high quality of research is proven by the countless UR students who win prestigious national scholarships or get into the very best graduate schools. Class of 2011 alone sent UR students to graduate schools such as Harvard (a Romanian student), UC Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, Oxford etc.
Besides academic excellence, the school is known for its endowment and for its generous financial aid and scholarship programs. The most sought after program, yet probably most accessible to Romanian students in particular is Richmond Scholars, offering free tuition or free tuition + room and board to about 75-100 outstanding applicants each year. Anyone who applies before December 1st is considered, and citizenship does not matter. The program has two selection phases, the second of which invites you to a 3-day all-expense paid visit on campus for an interview and other events. Once enrolled, Richmond Scholars have additional benefits such as priority class registration, free tickets to many cultural events on campus, or a $1,000 stipend for any educational experience otherwise not funded. All 7 Romanian students currently on campus are recipients of this scholarship.
The University of Richmond has a very strong international component. 10% of the student body is international, and represents 70 countries. More than 40% of students study abroad at least one semester, and study abroad is encouraged by all departments. International education is so important here, that it has its own building and an international cafe with food from all over the world. Nobody can graduate without proficiency in a foreign language (Romanian counts!).
The campus is always vibrant and full of life. Student organizations constantly organize thematic events. Opportunities for community service abound. High-quality artistic performances, played by students or in-house or visiting professionals, take place almost every week. You can always go to an interesting lecture on any topic you can imagine, held by special guests such as Nobel laureates or other renowned personalities in their fields. Famous entertainers and music artists come on campus frequently.
Last but not least, you can always display school pride at athletic events. Our athletic teams are in Division I, and our school mascot is the most unique and original in the United States: the Spider!
The other students are also wonderful persons. Each of them has a passion and something they want to study. The average student is by definition an overachiever. They take challenging classes, are actively involved in at least two organizations, usually play a sport or an instrument, have done at least one summer of research and usually continue during the school year, have had some sort of school-related international experience, have a few jobs, docommunity service that ranges from teaching English to refugees in the community to going to relief missions in Haiti, all this while partying hard and making friends.
With its excellent academics and opportunities for involvement in the local and world community, the University of Richmond is the perfect place to make you grow as an intellectual and as a person. As our athletic motto states, it's a great time to be a Spider!
My fulbright experience
Students at the advising center