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Writing the University of Richmond Supplement Essay

If you’re applying to the University of Richmond, then in addition to your Common App personal statement, you’re required to write an essay responding to what the school calls “The Richmond Question.”

For this University of Richmond supplement essay, you’ll have to choose one of three prompts to answer. This is an excellent opportunity to share even more about who you are—your personality, passions, and dreams—and show sides of yourself not highlighted in other parts of your application.

At this point, you may have another question—let’s call it The Richmond-Question Question—and it might go something like: “How the heck do I decide which prompt to pick?”

Fortunately for you, we’re going to answer The Richmond-Question Question right here, right now, by digging into the prompts for this University of Richmond supplement essay.


Instructions: Choose one of the following essay prompts:

(650 words max)

What is an urgent global challenge or social justice topic about which you are passionate? What solutions or outcomes do you hope to see?

Pick this prompt if: you’ve done some kind of activism or in-depth research on a particular issue. If you’ve already explored this or a very similar topic in your Common App personal statement, you’ll probably want to pick a different prompt, in order to show other aspects of who you are. Be sure to tell a story that conveys not just what you care about, but why. How did your interest develop, and how might you be part of a solution?


By the time you graduate from college, there will be jobs that don’t exist today. Describe one of them and how Richmond might prepare you for it.

Pick this prompt if: you spend an inordinate amount of time pondering your post-college career—and actually have some semi-specific ideas! Do you often research the near future? Be creative, but not too unrealistic here; we probably won’t have teleportation-deck operators in just four years’ time.

Remember, you don’t necessarily have to come up with entire new industries or types of jobs. Your answer can and should hew pretty closely to actual career interests of yours. For example, if you’ve always wanted to be a teacher, you don’t have to talk about how Richmond might prepare you for some crazy tech-type job. Think about how the teaching profession might be different in some significant way in four years; perhaps a new subject could emerge that makes revolutionary connections between different disciplines. (It doesn’t have to be “tech-y” at all!) What might this new subject look like, and how might you, as a teacher, teach it?

Note: be sure to do your Richmond research so that you can mention specific aspects of the school (classes, clubs, faculty, educational philosophy, etc.) that would help you land this career.


You are required to spend the next year in either the past or the future. To what year would you travel and why?

Pick this prompt if: you can relate a passion of yours to some historical event, era, or figure; or if you have a passion that leads you to have burning questions about the future. Past or future, the most important part of your response will be going deep into the “why.” Relate what you’d do in the past or future to your life today. How does your present passion lead to your choice of time-traveling destination? Also, don’t forget that you have to spend a year there, so think of ways you could put your passions and interests to good use for a full 365 days, and what you might learn or otherwise be able to bring back that would impact your present-day life.

It’s important that in your Richmond essay, you cover different ground than your Common App personal statement. So if you’ve already written about a global problem, for example, then maybe it’s time to apply for that dream job as a space-station librarian (could happen, right?) or to dust off your time-traveling sneakers.

Overall, try to take admissions readers somewhere surprising with your University of Richmond supplement essay and show them a side of yourself that makes you uniquely you.


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