I’ve blogged previously about touring the University of Richmond, having first visited the campus in the fall of 2012. But since I counsel my client families that you can’t learn everything you want to about a school in just one visit, I was excited to go back during the second stop of the CICV tour. (Also, I happen to think that they have one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation.)
On this trip, I was able to once more view the stately buildings and review the school’s admission policies (check out my previous blog on the subject for the basics – and yes, the school does have a riding team, equestrians), but I also learned about a wonderful program that I never previously knew existed and got to hear from some of the university’s outstanding faculty. All of it was helpful and I was glad I had returned.
You see, readers, at the University of Richmond, all first year students go through a first year seminar program that serves as their introduction to the academic life of a college student. This is actually something that is quite standard at a lot of schools and many colleges and universities also offer similar senior capstone experiences for students before they embark into the workforce or enter into graduate programs. But what of sophomore college students? What do they do when they still aren’t fully secure, experienced college upperclassmen but aren’t fresh-faced newbies either?
At U Richmond, they have an answer: the Sophomore Scholars in Residence program (SSIR) is a living and learning community environment that approximately 25% of students choose to reside in that allows them to have a second chance to attend some truly inspiring seminar courses taught by faculty members who specifically choose their own area of expert study. The aim of this approach is to allow teachers to impart their particular passions to those in their classrooms and build excitement not only for the subject matter, but also for the act of learning itself. Students can choose from all majors and areas of study and all of the SSIR courses have a practical and/or travel component that takes them out of the classroom and applies what they’re learning to real world settings.
As Dr. Maze, one of the champions of the program explained to us, the courses are intense and not for students who lack all-encompassing drive. That type of student would be miserable in the program. No, SSIR is like nerd camp – it’s the place for the students who always thought that recess interfered with the business of learning when they were in elementary school. It’s the place for students whose questions never seem to stop coming.
In short, it’s a place that’s about as special as the University of Richmond itself.