Holiday season starts in Richmond

By Christal Holmes, Campus Visit and Communications Manager 

It’s beginning to look a lot like the holidays in Richmond!  With the start of this festive season comes all of the favorite traditions that the holidays bring…including colder weather.  If you’re a coffee lover like me, it’s exciting to see the return of the holiday flavors at Starbucks too!  Whether you’re a student, visitor, or resident of Richmond, there are many fun things to do to kick off the holiday season: get your calendars ready!  

One of the first traditions for many area residents is the Jefferson Hotel’s Grand Illumination, which was held on this past Monday night.  The Jefferson sits adjacent to the VCU School of Business’ Snead Hall.  Reopened in 1907 after being gutted by a fire, the iconic landmark is not only a convenient option for visitors to the campus, but has a rich history of guests including Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and twelve U.S. Presidents just to name a few.  The hotel’s marble pools at the Jefferson’s Palm Court were also home to several full-sized alligators until 1948; today only bronze statues of the alligators decorate the hotel’s main entrance.  In 1969, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  

With its stunning architecture, award-winning restaurants, and AAA Five Diamond Hotel rating, The Jefferson offers an exceptional experience for visitors to Richmond.  If you missed out on their Grand Illumination and will be coming to town, don’t worry, the hotel will remain decorated through January 6, 2013 – be sure to drop by and see their beautiful decorations.  There are also still quite a few other events that you can catch in order to get you in the holiday spirit.  

Our Student Admissions Ambassadors will be gathering together for their annual Winter Wonderland dinner this Friday night, November 30, to celebrate the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the holiday season.  Friday evening will also mark another favorite local tradition with the Grand Illumination of the James Center and the downtown Richmond skyline beginning at 5:50 p.m. between 9th-12th and Cary Streets — the city skyline will remain lit nightly into the New Year.

If you’re planning to visit campus this weekend you’ll want to note that on Saturday, December 1, the 29th Annual Dominion Christmas Parade will take place.  The parade kicks off at the Science Museum of Virginia on West Broad Street and proceeds east through downtown Richmond for approximately three miles to 7th Street.  West bound traffic lanes on Broad Street will be closed to traffic.  If you’re planning to attend our 10:30 a.m. information session in the Welcome Center, which is also located on Broad Street, you’ll want to allow additional time for driving and parking.  If you’re visiting campus and sticking around for the weekend, you may also want to head over to Maymont Park for the Old Fashioned Christmas at Maymont on Sunday, December 2, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  

While it’s not a holiday tradition, Saturday, December 8, is a special day at VCU as we hold our winter Commencement exercises.  We congratulate our newest VCU grads and wish them much success in the future.  If you’re planning to visit with us on that day for our 10:30 a.m. information session, please note that traffic patterns and parking may be impacted.  Refer to our Visit VCU website for further details.  

December 8 also marks the James River Parade of Lights and the beginning of the Annual Fan Holiday House Tour.  Last but not least -– it’s not the holidays without the return of “The Nutcracker” at the Carpenter Theatre.  The show will run this year from December 14-23. 

More details about these holiday traditions and more can be found on the Richmond Holiday Calendar

We hope that as you’re enjoying the holidays and all of the fun and excitement that they bring, our prospective students don’t forget that our scholarship deadline is this Saturday, December 1.  Our regular decision deadline will also be quickly approaching at the end of the winter break on January 15.  Remember that our staff is here to help you through the application process and answer any questions that you have.  You can feel free to reach us by phone at (804) 828-1222 or toll-free at 1-800-841-3638 or by e-mail at

Happy Holidays!!

Answers to 10 top FAQ’s

By Christal Holmes, Campus Visit and Communications Manager

As high school seniors and transfer students are entering into the application phase, we hear some of the same questions asked time and time again.  With this blog, I’m hoping to answer 10 of the most commonly asked questions that we receive about our application process.  Some may be questions that you’ve been thinking about, other’s you may not have thought to ask.  I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but I wanted to be sure that these questions were answered as thoroughly as possible.  If you have a question that wasn’t answered in this post, please feel free to send it over to us!

1. Q: What are your deadlines?

A: Our fall deadlines for freshman applicants are December 1 (scholarship) and January 15 (regular decision); the spring deadline for regular decision is November 1.

For transfer students the fall deadlines are April 1 (scholarship) and May 1 (regular decision); the spring deadline for regular decision is November 1.  In addition to our scholarship and regular decision deadlines, the undergraduate programs on the MCV Campus have several additional deadlines which can be found by clicking here.

2. Q: Do you look at weighted or unweighted GPA’s?

A: For regular admission we will look at the applicant’s weighted GPA.

Those who are applying to The Honors College should note that they consider the unweighted GPA during their review process and require that applicants have a 3.5 or better for consideration.  More information about application requirements to The Honors College can be found here.

3. Q: Will you super score my test scores?

A: For regular admission we will super score the SAT, or consider the highest score for each section of the test from all dates taken.  We also will consider the highest composite ACT score.

Once again, note that if you are applying to The Honors College they require that an applicant present either a composite ACT score of 29 or better or an SAT score of 1910 or better.  All three sections of the SAT are considered, with no score less than a 530 on any once section, and obtained in one sitting – they do not super score.  The Honors College application requirements can be found here.

4. Q: Are letters of recommendation required?

A: Letters of recommendation are generally not required for regular admission into the university.  If you do wish to submit recommendations, they can be submitted electronically by your recommenders here.

Programs such as those in the School of the Arts or the undergraduate programs on the MCV Campus may require recommendations.  You should refer to their department application requirements for additional details.

5. Q: When will I receive my admissions decision?

A: Our office sends admissions decisions out to students by postal mail only; we do not provide decisions over the phone or electronically.

If you are a first-time freshman or transfer applying for the spring 2013 semester and you applied and submitted all required supporting documents by the November 1 deadline, you should receive an admissions decision via U.S. postal mail by December 7.  Applications for the spring semester are reviewed on a rolling basis and admissions decisions are mailed out on a rolling basis throughout the fall.

Students applying as freshmen for fall 2013 and submitting all required supporting documents by the recommended January 15 deadline will receiving an admissions decision from our office in writing via U.S postal mail by April 1.  We review applications on a rolling basis; therefore it is possible to receive a decision from us before April 1.

Freshmen applying by our December 1 scholarship deadline should be notified if they’ve received an award by late February or early March.  Please note that this refers to merit-based scholarship awards offered by the Office of Admissions, not financial aid awards.  Only students who have received awards will be notified.

Transfer students applying for fall 2013 by the recommended May 1 deadline will receive admissions decisions from our office in writing, via U.S. postal mail, throughout the spring semester on a rolling basis.

6. Q: I’ve been admitted, how do I accept my offer of admission?

A: If you’ve been admitted to the university we ask that you respond to our offer, whether you’re accepting or declining.  If you’re accepting the offer, we ask that freshmen for the fall semester respond by May 1 if admitted on or before April 1.  Transfer students who are accepted for the fall semester by May 1 are asked to respond by June 1.  Freshmen admitted after April 1, or transfers admitted after May 1, are asked to respond within two weeks of their acceptance notification.

7. Q: On the application essay, what does it mean when you want us to “Compose Page 87 of your autobiography?”

A:  This question is asked hundreds of times over the course of an application cycle and the answer remains the same: Be creative!  There isn’t one set answer that we’re looking for – no one magic word or phrase that will make or break your application.  The essays, and personal statement, are the only way that we’ll get to hear many of your voices.  Whether describing childhood memories, discussing current service work in your community that you’re involved in, or dreaming about scientific or medical advances that you wish to make in the future, this essay is to be a creative piece that tells us more about you as a person.

8. Q: I’m a transfer student for the spring, but my transcripts won’t be ready until December; will I still be considered for the spring semester?

A: Yes, if you submit your transcripts to us as soon as your final grades are posted, and all other application materials have been received to complete your application package, we should have time in our office to review your application and get a decision back out to you for the spring semester.

9. Q: I’m a high school student, but I’ve completed college credits as a dual enrolled student.  Will I be considered for admission as a freshman or transfer student?

A: If you are graduating from high school with completed college coursework (even an associate’s degree), you will still apply and be classified as a freshman at VCU.  Depending on how many of your college credits transfer into the university, that will determine your academic classification.

10. Q: If I’m admitted to VCU, is housing guaranteed on campus?

A:  On-campus housing is guaranteed only to freshmen who submit their online housing application and deposit by June 1.  Transfer students and upperclassmen are not guaranteed housing.  Housing is assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.  The sooner that you submit your housing application and deposit, the more likely you are to be placed in the residence hall of your choice.  For more information about on-campus housing, visit the VCU Residential Life and Housing website.  Remember that you must accept VCU’s offer of admission so you can reserve your space in our class and before you can apply for on-campus housing or register for New Student Orientation.