I swear to God, I did not write this review – but even with a ten year difference, this is exactly the experience I had. Part of my problem was that I had no idea the kind of kid referenced in this article (rich, socially needy and status dependent but wildly insecure) actually existed in any significant number. For the first few weeks of school, I walked around confidently, engaging with people in conversations, simply assuming that by sheer persistence, I’d find the silent majority at school with some sort of, I dunno, moral compass. Instead…
A lot of students here are really disgusting people. This is true of any school, but I cannot help but feel like I have never been somewhere with more depraved individuals. I struggled to relate and be friendly with individuals who were so disdainful of; the working class, intellectualism, alternative political views, and more so than anything else, people who are unattractive.
Yep. Four years of that. It was really, really jarring for me, and the worst part was that everyone outside of school thought I was overreacting, or that I somehow wanted to be some kind of community pariah, when in reality nothing could be further than the truth. I was nervous about college, but – and I have old emails and IM conversations to confirm this, amusingly – I was excited, and wanted to have an deep, enriching experience where I met people I’d be friends with forever. I really did.
It’s funny, on the whole, I have such a wonderful, rich life as an adult. I got married to a hilarious, exciting hurricane of a woman, I’ve had incredible jobs and opportunities, I’ve been to crazy places I never thought I’d see, and I’ve even gotten to pursue silly passions like basketball and punk rock to an extent I never thought I’d be able to. In almost every way, college is a just a tiny, insignificant blip in my life that helps me make more money, that I can simply laugh about when they send things to me in the mail.
And yet, maybe because I work with so many kids who are just out of school, I’m constantly reminded of that truly bizarre fall of 2000, before I tuned everyone out and literally just stopped talking to anyone but three dudes on my hall (by sophomore year, when multiple people came into my room I would just get up and leave), and how much I struggled to explain what was happening around me to my friends and family.
I have a mixed opinion about academics. You can take great classes here from great people and learn a lot. That said, it is very possible to graduate from this school taking exceedingly easy classes and doing very little work. Be aware, you need to take charge of your academic destiny here and actively pick more challenging classes if this is important to you.
Yes!!! This is exactly it. I actually learned a lot, but only once I completely disassociated myself from the campus community and any sort of administration-encouraged track. Look out for number one.
I had almost entirely negative experiences with the administration of the school. This broadly ties into the the issue of Richmond misrepresenting its self. The administration claims that its worried about excessive drinking and underage drinking, but I never got this impression. I am not going to go into specifics because I do not want the school to know who I am, this should tell you something about the school that I would worry about this.
There are (or were) nice people who worked at the university. But… they lived in a fantasy world that ended at 5pm, and didn’t exist on the weekend. There was this weird, unspoken faustian bargain where students would smile and look like college students for like, 3 hours a week, and in exchange the school would pump some stomachs and look the other way. It was like an invisible-hand approach to campus life, which would have been interesting if said campus wasn’t full of… well, UR students.
Anyways, the long and short of it is that as the years go by, I’ve changed my attitude about college. I didn’t have a bad college experience – I had a bad private boarding school experience during my college years, and got a college degree out of it. The hanging out and talking about what it all means, the crazy idealistic experiments, the wacky adventures, the identity and sense of community; I just didn’t have any of that, whereas many (maybe most) college kids do. And that’s okay! I had a disproportionately engaging, community-building high school experience, and it’s basically resumed now that I’m an adult.
But… it does bother me that my school is still pulling this bait and switch on kids ten years later, and that those same kids – many of whom aren’t as economically or socially fortunate as I was at 18 – are getting chewed up and spat out by it. To be blunt, it’s not just frustrating. It’s objectively wrong, and I’ll continue to grumble about school until I feel like they’ve changed things. It’s not the most important thing in the world, but whether I like it or not, I’m associated with the place; and I don’t want people to think anything they respect about me (assuming such things exist) should be associated with Richmond.