Park Ridge, IL


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About Me

Why I Came to UR from Illinois

December 19, 2017

Over my four years at UR, I’ve consistently gotten the same question when I tell people I’m from Illinois: why’d you pick Richmond? The inquiry is made out of genuine curiosity, and I understand why. There are plenty of great schools in between my home and the 800 miles to UR. Also, the University of Richmond was not necessarily a household name in Illinois at the time I chose where I’d go to college. In fact, I was the only one in my high school graduating class of about 600 students to go to any school in the state of Virginia, let alone to UR.

Although I’ve crafted a brief response that serves it purpose in those passing conversations I’ve had countless times, I think this forum warrants a more in depth answer to that question—particularly around this time of year as many high school seniors narrow in on their own college decision.

Firstly, I knew that I wanted to go to a smaller school. Personally, small class sizes were a big draw. And after my time here, I’m glad I made that one of my top criteria. Small class sizes have allowed me to connect with my professors in ways that lecture hall style classes would not. Whenever I’ve been stuck on a problem or need suggestions on how to improve my essays, having the professor readily available as a resource has proved extremely valuable. The small classes also make for a more engaging classroom environment because every student has the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

Another reason I chose Richmond was that it has the mix of academic offerings I was looking for. I consider myself lucky in that I had a good idea of what I wanted to study when I arrived to college and I've stuck to those disciplines over my four years. Specifically, I knew I wanted to go to a college with a well-regarded business school that also offered minors in creative writing and film studies. This criteria helped me narrow my search considerably, but it was after this point that my decision became more difficult to make.

Being from Illinois, Richmond also gave me the opportunity to explore a new environment, meet new people, and push myself out of my comfort zone a bit. I knew that by choosing Richmond (or another school far from home), I wouldn’t have my best friends to help me navigate through that acclimation period that all students encounter in the first few weeks at school. But that was also something that excited me. Jumping into this uncertainty prompted me to meet more people (which can often take extra motivation for an introvert like me) and truly explore the opportunities available in college.

With all this being said, however, it wasn’t until I visited that I was sold on the school. And I really do encourage students to visit whatever college they’re considering because it can really open up your perspective on the decision. Both good and bad college visits give you a set of experiences that’ll serve as a gauge of how well a school fits your expectations. On my college visit to UR, I was wowed by the beautiful campus and stories of how students took advantage of the opportunities available to them. It also didn’t hurt that on the day I visited, the weather was sunny and hovered around 70 degrees—a big step up from the Chicagoland cold. Yet, it wasn’t any of these characteristics that made me finally settle on UR. It was the people. Granted, my visit offered me only passing interactions with students, faculty, and staff at the school. But, out of all the schools I toured throughout the year, these encounters seemed the most genuine. Even outside of admissions presentations and the campus tour, the UR community appeared sincerely appreciative of their environment. That’s not to say other school communities were not, but rather that UR stood out in this area for me. I felt less like I was being convinced to go the school and more like I was being invited to join the UR network.

These interactions on my campus visit were certainly subtle experiences, but after the prestige of a school’s name and the wow-factor of its campus amenities wears down you’re left with the people and the community they’ve built around them. And with UR, I felt most confident in taking that leap into an uncertain environment. The subtleties can often mean more than you think in the long run and now, in my final year of college, I can say that I’m glad I paid attention to them. With just one semester left of college, I’m beginning to wish I could turn the clock back a year or two before heading off into post-graduate life. 

My name is Joe. I am currently a freshman at the University of Richmond. I plan to major in Business (concentration undecided) and to minor in Creative Writing. I consider myself a man of diverse interests. I find just as much enjoyment in playing basketball as I do staying home to read a book. In terms of music, I'll listen to most anything, whether it's Frank Sinatra, today's top 100 hits, old school rap, or anything in between. Same goes for movies. New movies, old movies, black-and-white movies, action movies, romantic comedies, serious dramas. It doesn't matter; I'll watch them all (and often choose to). Aside from that, I'm simply excited to be at UR and to be able to share my experiences with prospective students, fellow classmates, and anyone else who may care to follow along.

Why UR?

A simple answer to the question "Why UR?" would be to say that it just felt right. Though, whereas that isn't inaccurate, I know how vague and frustrating an answer like that can be for readers. So, I will try to explain myself. The University of Richmond, as I researched it more and more, became continually more appealing. Every new thing I learned became another reason to attend. (That certainly was not the case with other schools.) I didn't have to wrestle with thoughts like, "I guess I can live with that" or "Maybe it won't seem like that when I'm actually there." In fact, even viewing the university with a critical eye, it was difficult to find something bad to say about it. That may sound like I'm simply affirming my final decision, but it's not easy to answer that question without directly showing someone what I'm trying to articulate. UR is a place that, although ripe for descriptive writing, must be experienced firsthand to truly understand. That, I believe, says more than any list of reasons ever could.