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Academic Life

As the parents of a new Richmond Spider, you may have questions about a University of Richmond education. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we hear from parents about academic life. if you have questions about other aspects of life on campus, be sure to read through answers about the topics below.

Academic Life
Are research opportunities available to all students?

Yes. Doing research with a faculty member can greatly enrich a student’s undergraduate experience, helping him or her develop as an independent learner. Research with faculty is an exploration of a question and the creative process. Students may be surprised to learn that these opportunities aren’t restricted to the sciences. In fact, the Undergraduate Research Committee, the University group that provides financial support for students pursuing independent research, has given money for student research in nearly every program at the University. Financial support is available for summer research  as well as for work during the academic year. Students can get involved in research projects with faculty even in their first year at the University.

Does Richmond offer classes during the summer?

Yes, there are several sessions offered during the summer months. Summer school includes various courses regularly offered during the academic year along with specialized summer courses (some departments offer their specialized courses only during the summer).

Is there tutoring available outside of the classroom?

The University of Richmond offers tutoring in many academic areas:

The Academic Skills Center, located in the administrative wing of Boatwright Library, provides academic skills support to University of Richmond students. The Center incorporates counseling and study skills techniques (e.g., test-taking, note-taking, information processing, concentration, time management, etc.) which address the academic performance of students and their social adjustment to the University environment. The Center offers free tutoring in a variety of subjects to students through its Peer Academic Skills Tutoring program. Both individual and group tutoring options are available in one-hour sessions.

The Richmond Writing Center, located in the administrative wing of Boatwright Library, provides free writing tutoring for undergraduate, continuing studies, and graduate students in any course or academic discipline. Tutors, who complete a semester-long training program, can assess an essay’s organization, development, style and documentation.

In the Weinstein-Jecklin Speech Center, located on the fourth floor of Weinstein Hall, trained student speech consultants assist students to develop and refine their skills in preparing individual and group presentations.

What is BannerWeb?

BannerWeb is Richmond’s online system that students use to register for classes, access grades, view their accounts, and make changes to their meal plans.

What is the role of the academic advisor?

The University of Richmond has an academic advising system that provides each student with an academic advisor when s/he first begins at Richmond, in most cases later shifting advising responsibilities to a faculty member in the student’s chosen major. The University’s Academic Advising Resource Center provides training and resources to advisors, and provides services to students whose advisors are for some reason (e.g., illness, sabbatical) unavailable.

Though academic advisors encourage students to make thoughtful decisions around course selection, and they will discuss those and related issues with your student each semester, advisors do not make decisions for students about which courses to take, nor do they put together a class schedule for students. Academic advisors will pose questions which are designed to stimulate intentional decisions behind course selection. Advising conversations typically stretch far beyond the discussion of which classes to take.

What library resources are available on campus?

The University of Richmond library system offers students and faculty services and ample scholarly resources to begin and sustain their studies. Boatwright Library, the Parsons Music Library (in the Modlin Center), and the William Taylor Muse Law Library hold more than one million items selected to support students’ coursework. The Media Resource Center offers audio, video and electronic technologies to increase their learning opportunities. Laptop computers are available for loan in both Boatwright Library and the Music Library. Desktop computers are located throughout Boatwright Library for student work. The Science Reading Room in the Gottwald Center for the Sciences offers assistance with science research and a small collection of printed science reference works. While the collections are always expanding, the best resources of all are the librarians who will help students discover new avenues to information and provide support for their research needs. 

When may my student declare a major?

Students cannot declare a major in their first year at Richmond. Often, the major students plan on choosing when entering college is not the one they decide on after a semester or two of courses. Initial courses in new areas, and courses in subjects that were disliked in high school but that suddenly take on new life in college, can lead students to choose a major that’s a “better fit” than one they thought they would pursue. In most cases, by January of their second year students should be ready to declare a major.

To declare a major, students go to the Registrar’s Office and complete a fairly simple major declaration form (note: there is an enrollment process for Business majors/minors and an acceptance process for Leadership Studies majors/minors). They can declare several majors and/or minors, although only one major is required for graduation. Once this is done, students are assigned a faculty advisor from the department that houses the major they have chosen. At this point, their major faculty advisor formally becomes the resource for class information and registration requirements, replacing the academic advisor they worked with when they entered Richmond.

In the advising center, we talk with a surprising number of students who feel considerable pressure from their parents, other family members, or friends over what major to choose. Sometimes it's advice to choose a particular major that is "guaranteed" to lead to a job after graduation. Sometimes it's advice to choose a major this other person wishes she or he had chosen in college. Sometimes it's advice to choose a major because "When you were younger you always said you wanted to be a ______ (doctor, lawyer, artist, politician, etc...)." Our best advice to students is always "Major in what you like and what you're good at..." Students from literally all our majors find good jobs and lead successful lives after graduation. Pressuring a student into choosing a major that is a poor fit leads to lower academic performance, lower satisfaction in college, and less likely connections between major and career in the long run.

Will my daughter's or son's grades be sent to me at the end of each semester?

No, they will not. The University does not mail grades to students or parents.To access grades, the student logs into BannerWeb and enters his or her ID number and PIN number.

Grades only appear at the end of each semester; there are no mid-semester grades. However, professors may submit a "Student Progress Report" to the appropriate academic advisor at any point during the semester for students doing poorly (e.g., earning a D or F) in a course. The advisor can then meet with the student to discuss approaches for improving the grade.

With whom could my Richmond student discuss applying to medical school, law school, or other graduate program?

Getting into medical, law, or graduate school in a given discipline is just one step in the process of deciding to further your Richmond student’s education. What is the best major for medical school or law school? Is a law degree, an M.D., or a Ph.D. really what a student needs to do the work s/he finds most interesting? Because such questions are challenging and the answers vary from person to person, seeking the advice of a professional advisor in addition to a faculty advisor is an important step.

For many graduate programs, faculty members in related areas can provide appropriate assistance to students. In addition, the University of Richmond has both pre-law and pre-health professions advisors to help students investigate these options. These advisors and faculty members can give good suggestions about top programs, schools with specialties that may interest our students, and even ways to improve their chances for admission. For questions about careers in law and law school, students may contact Dr. Steve Simon, the Director of Pre-Law Advising, at To find out more about medical professions and education, students may contact Dr. John Vaughan at (804) 287-6484 or by e-mail at
Getting Involved: Students & Parents
Does Richmond have a Career Services Center?

Yes. In addition to the academic advisor, Career Services  can help students make informed decisions about majors and careers. Career Services provides one-on-one career counseling and resources to connect students with internships and full-time employment or help with graduate school applications. Their website makes career information available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Walk-in hours are Monday through Friday, 2-4 p.m.

Does Richmond have a Parents Council?

Yes. The University of Richmond Parent Leadership Council is a group of about seventy-five families from all over the country who are philanthropically committed to UR and charged with guiding the University’s outreach efforts to current and past parents, raising crucial funds for the University. In addition to their own giving, they host events in their area, serve as ambassadors to other parents within their community, and offer insight and perspective as their student's experience unfolds. There is the expectation of a leadership-level current use gift each year and consideration of a significant gift in honor of their student’s Richmond experience.

The Parent Leadership Council meets twice a year, on Family Weekend and in February, in conjunction with the Ring Dance, with other special invitations and activities throughout the year.  

If you are interested in getting involved with or learning more about the University of Richmond Parent Leadership Council, please contact Ms. Terry Sylvester, Director, Parent Giving, at (804) 615-4808 or

Getting Involved - In the Community & Through Worship

At the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), students join faculty, staff, and community members to address civic and social issues through action, reflection, and research. New students can get involved in the CCE as paid student coordinators or through programs such as the Build It community engagement initiative, the CCE’s Friday brown bag discussions, academically grounded summer internships, and summer research fellowships. 

The University Chaplaincy is central to the life and purpose of the University of Richmond through celebrating the intersections of faith and mind, practicing inclusive diversity, and honoring the rich traditions of our students, faculty, and staff. Founded with the Christian vision that includes and supports students of any faith or no faith, the Office of the Chaplaincy oversees a broad variety of religious organizations and schedules regular worship and prayer gatherings for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, and those who practice an Earth-Centered Spirituality. In addition, through personal counseling, pastoral care, inter-religious programs and dialogues, spiritual retreats, community service initiatives, and the Bonner Scholars program, the Chaplaincy offers students encouragement, challenge, accompaniment, and opportunities for reflection and practice in their spiritual journey, whether they are from a faith tradition or not.

How prominent is Greek life on the Richmond campus?

Our statistics for the past four years show that approximately fifty percent of students choose to join a Greek organization.  The decision to join a fraternity or sorority is an important one, and the topic should be discussed between you and your Richmond student. Though Greek life may not be for everyone, fraternities and sororities can be effective ways to meet people and get involved in a variety of events.

Where can my student find out what's happening on campus?

Students can visit the Student Activities Office on the second floor of the Tyler Haynes Commons, which serves as a complete resource center for all student activities. Students may also visit the events calendar for information on events that are happening each day.

Service organizations, honor and judicial councils, political student groups—the number and variety of student-run organizations at Richmond are plentiful! Whatever the interest, Richmond is likely to have a group that will prove appealing to your student. Both the Student Organization Web site and the Student Organization office in Tyler Haynes Commons can help students get together with people who have similar interests and passions.

Move In Day
Can my daughter or son bring a car to campus?

Yes, students are permitted to bring cars to campus. Their parking lot will be determined by their residence hall. Full details are available at Parking Services.

How are dorm rooms and roommates assigned?

Room and roommate assignments are made by the Student Housing Office. Information about assignment, roommate contact information, and campus mailing address will be available to your student via BannerWeb during the last week of July.

How long should parents expect to stay during Orientation?

We have planned events for parents on Wednesday and Thursday, August 23 and 24. Most parents leave following the meeting with student orientation leadership, which is scheduled to end at 2:15 p.m. on Thursday, August 24. More details are available in the Orientation schedule.

When should we arrive on campus to move our student into his/her room?
New resident students should arrive on campus to move in on the Wednesday prior to the first day of the fall semester (August 23). Students participating in International Student Orientation, Pre-Orientation, Roadmap, or AT Adventure need to arrive no later than Sunday prior to the first day of the fall semester. We will not check-in anyone who is not an accepted participant in one of the transition programs listed above into a resident hall prior to 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 23. 

Members of our Residence Life staff will be on hand to greet you and your Richmond student, direct you to the appropriate residence hall, and answer your questions. All residents in Dennis, Lora Robins, Moore, Marsh, and Wood Halls must check-in in the Alice Haynes Room in the Tyler Haynes Commons (building 4 on the campus map). Residence Life and Undergraduate Student Housing, One Card Services, and representatives from various on-campus, non-academic resources will be available to answer questions for students and families.  Please note that very limited parking is located near Tyler Haynes Commons so it is strongly recommended you follow the following parking locations and walk to check-in. For unloading and parking: It is recommended that residents or Dennis, Marsh, and Moore use parking lot B6. There is limited parking and unloading area in lot R19 for residents of Dennis, and Wood Halls. Residents of Lora Robins Court should use parking lot W40. Please refer to the map here.

University Facilities will provide a small number of hand trucks at their service tents. The location of the tents will be in front of Freeman Hall, near the archway of Whitehurst, and in front of Lora Robins Court. You will need to leave your driver’s license when you check out the equipment.
Safety & Security
Regarding student conduct and alcohol/drug/party policies: When will parents be notified if there is a problem?

The University of Richmond considers cultivation of self-discipline to be of primary importance in the educational process and essential to the development of responsible citizens. All students of the University are expected to conduct themselves, both within the University and elsewhere, in such a manner as to be a credit to themselves and to the University of Richmond. The Standards of Conduct  are enforced by the residential life student staff, specific staff members in the student development office, and the University of Richmond police. The university police are well-trained law enforcement officers who are authorized to arrest a student if the circumstances dictate such action. If the student is arrested, he or she will need to resolve the matter in both the on-campus and off-campus settings.

Parents are notified of any violation to the University’s drug policy, including but not limited to use, possession, or distribution. With regard to alcohol violations, parents are always notified when a student is transported to an area hospital for alcohol consumption (e.g., alcohol poisoning). The University will also notify parents of a student that has been charged and/or arrested for driving under the influence. Other violations to the alcohol policy (e.g., underage possession or consumption, drunk in public, open container, violation of registered party policies) do not always result in parental notification on a first offense. If a student is involved in subsequent violations of the University’s alcohol policy, parents may be notified as part of the judicial sanctioning process. When a student is placed on Conduct Probation due to a second or third violation of the alcohol policy, parents are notified.

Questions regarding policies about smoking, fire safety equipment, hazing, guns, sexual conduct, and theft can be found in the student handbook.

What is FERPA?

FERPA is The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) which is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all institutions that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high-school level (whichever occurs first). University of Richmond faculty and staff members cannot release information about the educational records of a student to a parent or other family member without the written consent of the student (for exceptions, please see the question below regarding disclosure of information). This includes grades.

FERPA protects the confidentiality of the records that educational institutions maintain on their students and gives students access to their records to assure the accuracy of their contents. The University of Richmond’s Registrar’s Office website provides information about students’ rights and when the University may disclose information about a student.   

What resources exist on campus to ensure my son/daughter's safety and the security of personal property?

The University of Richmond Police Department (URPD) does a very effective job of educating students and providing building security to prevent many types of crime. URPD has uniformed police who patrol the University 24 hours a day by vehicle, on foot, and by bicycle. Emergency phones are located throughout the University and have a direct line to URPD.

Residence halls are locked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Students have to use their SpiderCard to enter. The residence halls have an audible voice alarm at each door in case a door is propped open between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. After 10 p.m. the voice alarm reports directly to the security computer located in the Communications Section. A security officer is then dispatched to close the door. The doors are also checked each night to make sure they are locked and working properly. Students attend orientation at the beginning of the year and learn about the security measures in place for them.

Though the University makes a significant effort to provide for the safety of students’ property, students are responsible for the loss of, or damages to, their personal property—not the University. Please review your family homeowner’s policy or renter’s insurance policy carefully to ensure that coverage for your student’s belongings is included.

Will I receive information in the event there is an emergency which affects the campus?

Parents of current students, family of faculty and staff, visitors, and community members can now register online to receive critical information during an emergency affecting the campus using UR Alert, a component of the University of Richmond Emergency Notification System. 

The new, user friendly UR Alert portal provides subscribers the opportunity to select how they wish to receive emergency notifications. Options include a phone call, email, and text message. After registering, subscribers simply log in to change notification preferences or add additional phone numbers and email addresses.
Student Finances
How can I pay tuition and fees?

Tuition and fees for fall are due the first Monday of August. Tuition for spring is due the first Monday in December.

Fall invoices are emailed in early July, spring invoices in early November.

Students must grant access to their parents/guardians to receive electronic invoices and use the online payment system. A guide for doing so is on the checklist portion of this website. Anyone with access will be emailed when the invoice is ready to be viewed.

With electronic invoicing, students and other payers are able to make payments through a variety of methods which include cash, check, electronic check, credit card (MasterCard, Discover, and American Express), our monthly payment plan with TuitionPay, or the UR Online Payment System. The Student Accounts Office provides complete information on all payment options.

If you have questions about your student's bill, please contact the Bursar’s Office toll free at (866) 241-8893 or (804) 289-8147, or via email at

How does my student gain access to money I send?

To allow a student’s ID card to function as a SpiderCard, funds must be pre-deposited.  Full information on options to do so can be found at One Card

The University does not have a bank on campus, but there is a BB&T ATM located in Tyler Haynes Commons. The University Cashier, located in Sarah Brunet Hall, will cash checks for students up to $100 a day and will cash student UR payroll checks for any amount.  The Cashier’s Office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

What happens if I have a financial reversal which threatens my child's ability to continue at UR?

Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to assist you or direct you to sources of assistance. Contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss your situation. A financial aid advisor may be reached at (804) 289-8438 or at

Transitions and Your Student
Suppose my son or daughter and his/her roommate do not get along. Can students change roommates?

Learning how to get along with a roommate is an important aspect of college life. Some roommates become close friends, while other sets of roommates find that their relationship must be based on mutual respect rather than strong friendship. If your student is having roommate difficulty, encourage him or her to address the problems as they surface rather than wait until the situation becomes worse. The student is also encouraged to speak with his or her RA for assistance or advising in addressing the problems.

In many cases, meaningful communication between roommates is enough to resolve the problem; however, there are situations in which the roommates cannot reconcile their differences. After sufficient time and effort, if there is still no solution in sight, a roommate change may be requested. Women with unresolved problems should speak with their Westhampton College area coordinator. If the student is approved to change rooms, and if there are available beds, the area coordinator will refer her to the Housing Office to be reassigned. Men with unresolved problems should speak with the assistant director of undergraduate student housing, and she will assist them with their room change. Approval for the move must be obtained prior to moving. Any students who make unauthorized room/apartment changes will be fined $100.00.

What if I am concerned about my student or my student becomes ill?

If your instincts tell you something is wrong, please notify the Richmond College Dean’s Office (men) or the Westhampton College Dean’s Office (women), and they will check out the situation, no matter what the concern, and get back to you. You know your child, and you should listen to warning signals about anything from depression to academic turmoil to eating disorders to unhealthy relationships.

If your student becomes ill, the Student Health Center offers a comprehensive program in health education and health maintenance, as well as treatment for illness and injury. The Health Center staff includes board-certified family practice physicians and registered nurses. Services include acute care for illness and injury and general medical care.

What types of emotional transitions do students tend to experience during their first year of college? As a parent, what might I expect?

Obviously, the first year is a period of adjustment. Students typically go through immense changes as they learn new things and make new friends inside and outside the classroom. Students seem to be most concerned with finding their niche socially, handling the academic load, and beginning and maintaining a successful roommate relationship. It is not unusual for a parent to receive a stressful phone call or two regarding issues like these during the first few weeks of college. The best advice is to be supportive with the understanding that these concerns usually work themselves out.

Trust your son or daughter to make his or her own decisions. It is essential that your Richmond student learn to solve his or her own problems rather than rely on you or others to find the solutions. Students will make mistakes along the way, but mistakes are an essential part of the learning process. If, however, you believe your student is facing a problem that stretches beyond routine adjustment issues, consult the resources available on the Student Development website.

When Will I See Them Again?