This is a letter to anyone looking at colleges and considering VCU. Whether you’re a high school senior or you’re coming to school later in life — this is my advice to you. There are many factors that led me to decide to commit to VCU. As a second-year student living in the city of Richmond, these are my unbiased opinions.
Diversity is what VCU prides itself on. Students come from all over the world because there’s a home for everyone on this campus and a sense of community. This school gives you the opportunity to meet new people with different cultures and experiences especially if you’re coming from a small town. I always feel like I’m learning new things about the world and I’m better understanding people through new lenses.
- city living
VCU has a nontraditional campus. While commuting to class you walk through the busy streets of Richmond and pass local businesses. Your social interactions are not only with students or professors but with Richmond natives. I personally favor the city over a suburb and I love that VCU is not confined to a campus secluded from cities. You will hear the phrase “the city is your campus” way too many times, but it is true!
- student clubs
One of the most exciting finds when researching VCU was the endless list of clubs the school has to offer. I had marked all of the clubs I wanted to join before I got to campus. There are religious, cultural and field-specific clubs as well as clubs to help the Richmond community like “Help the Homeless” and “Heroes at VCU” which assists kids that are struggling with mental health problems or cancer.
I was also introduced to a nationwide organization called Her Campus. Her Campus is a club for women to make friends who have interests in journalism, public relations, advertising, photography and graphic design.
I am also part of a creative production club that puts on events every semester such as fashion shows or sustainable design challenges. Our goal is to better collaborate with creatives in the school of VCUarts to learn more than the subjects we are studying.
The biggest challenge of moving from a small private school of 30 graduates to a campus with thousands of students was learning to be an extrovert. Learning how to socialize and be professional is a skill you need to be successful at this city school.
Taking advantage of networking with your professors is crucial. No matter what field you’re in, many instructors are adjuncts which means they don’t teach full-time and may be working other jobs. Having professors that are in the industry you want to work in helps immensely with meeting mentors and getting internships.
Local businesses also appreciate the attention that students network with for internships and business opportunities. Although Richmond is a large city, VCU instills a sense of community with the local businesses that students can enjoy.
- Nontraditional Aspects
Along with number two, VCU doesn’t provide a typical college experience. We don’t have a football team or tailgating which some students don’t mind sacrificing. Being a college in the South, people may assume we have a large Greek life community. There are sororities and fraternities but it is not as big here compared to other schools in the South.
- At-home feel
As a freshman, it will feel very daunting when trying to figure out where to fill your time socially. If you are looking to meet new friends, the PACE Center offers “Walk-a-Dog” events that allow students to walk dogs in Monroe park for an hour which may fill the loss of leaving pets from home. If cooking is something that you miss doing at home or you are looking to learn how to get around the kitchen, virtual classes are free to participate in as well. Whatever comforts you the most, VCU provides an event that is fulfilling and usually free!
- Free events
The APB, activities programming board, is another organization dedicated to hosting free events for students. Every Friday students are welcomed to a free movie at our theater along with free drinks and snacks. This is a great opportunity to get out of your dorm, meet friends and see new and old movies. I took advantage of this all the time during my freshman year.
The Student Organization and Volunteer Opportunities (SOVO) Fair happens at the beginning of every semester. Clubs and organizations set up booths around the park for students to sign up and socialize. Joining clubs, taking officer positions and volunteering are great resume builders.
Other free events that I enjoy going to include improv shows, group workout sessions at the gym (yoga, meditations, etc.) and free artistic classes.
- No conversation is left unsaid
VCU frequently hosts important conversations on topics like sexual health education, consent, healthy eating, addiction and so much more. As a student, mental health services such as therapy, a number of support groups and even a food pantry are free resources that are often promoted. Any need or issue you may have mentally, physically or emotionally is addressed thanks to the Recreational & Well-Being resources.
Of course, these eight opinions are what I’ve been privileged to experience in my time here. There is so much more to get out of VCU and touring is now offered in person again. Take advantage of tours and explore your options. Hope to see you here!