2013-2014 University of Richmond Writing Supplement Plus Blog Tips


The University of Richmond’s on June 14 released its  2013-2014 Writing Supplement and Tips For Writing It.

We copy directly from its Admissions Blog–http://admissionblog.richmond.edu/

Tom Nicholas, Senior Assistant Director of Admission, writes: 

“In light of these new (Common Application) questions – all of which, directly or indirectly, get at the same thing that our Richmond Question has been asking for seven years – we will also be changing our essay question this year. The new Richmond Question will be:

  • From small, faculty-led classes to funded undergraduate research, the University of Richmond offers the benefits of both a liberal arts college and the opportunities and resources only found in large research universities. Tell us how you would utilize these resources in order to reach your goals.

This may sound similar to other prompts you’ve encountered – many colleges have some variation of the “Why our school?” question – but there’s a very specific reason we’ve chosen this prompt. In fact, it’s the same reason we’ve always required an additional essay as part of our application. We don’t want just anyone to apply to the University of Richmond; we want students who have thought seriously about their fit at Richmond, students who are willing to invest their time and energy in applying because they believe Richmond would be an excellent match for them.

In the near future, I plan to share some general thoughts and tips for college essay-writing, so be on the lookout for new blog posts. But in announcing the new Richmond Question, I thought it would be appropriate to share some advice specific to our prompt. Here are a couple of “do” and “don’t” suggestions as you begin to think about your essay:

Do use the prompt as an opportunity to share something about yourself and your interests. That’s the whole point of college essay prompts (whether Richmond’s, the Common Application’s, or any other college’s). We’re not looking for you to wax eloquent about the University of Richmond or go on about how wonderful it is (that’s our job); we want to get to know you, and how you see yourself fitting into our community of scholars and thriving here.

Don’t answer the question more than once. That is, avoid paragraphs that could stand alone as short answers to the question, and avoid lists. Rather, focus your essay on a common thread – who you are, your hopes and aspirations, a particular passion, a unique goal – and tie everything into that. You’re still being asked to write a coherent essay with a central thesis or idea that connects to the rest of it, just like you’ve been taught in English class.

Do your research. A quick scour or search of Richmond’s website won’t be enough to write meaningfully about your future and fit. Take the time to explore our programs; read the stories and get into the details. We hope you’ve been doing this anyway, but if you haven’t, this is a great time to get to know Richmond better – which will ultimately be to your benefit, if and when you’re deciding whether to enroll here.

Don’t tell us what we already know about the University (or, worse, plagiarize portions of Richmond’s website). One of our primary responsibilities as admission officers is to promote the University to prospective students and families, so trust me, we know the University really well. Better than you do, in all likelihood. So it’s safe to assume that we know what you’re talking about when you reference the Jepson School or Sophomore Scholars in Residence; you don’t have to explain them to us. Spend your words talking about yourself and your future, not telling us about the University of Richmond.

Do be genuine. We’re not looking for forced enthusiasm; we’re looking for thoughtful reflection on who you are and how you see yourself growing at Richmond. (Enthusiasm is okay, but it’s not the point of the essay prompt.)”


About Rebecca

Dr. Rebecca Joseph is the developer of this unique integrated website and mobile application that provides all college application requirements for more than 750 major universities in the US and Canada. She has a PhD from UCLA and is a national expert on writing powerful college application essays.

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