Full ride to Alabama vs Full Ride to U Richmond

Hello! I recently found out I received a full ride to the University of Richmond and I’m also a National Merit finalist, so I know Alabama offers a lot of money for that. Both schools seem to have really good academic programs, but Alabama seems to offer a lot more opportunities and programs (Honors College, RRS (currently a finalist). U Richmond is generally ranked higher in the departments I’m interested in (physics, mathematics, computer science), but Alabama has more faculty doing research. Would I be foolish to turn down a full ride to Richmond for Alabama?

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Listen to your intuition and where you think you would be happiest!

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Very different types of schools. Small LAC vs large state U. Completely different vibe and type of student body. Which do feel more comfortable in and where will you thrive? Hard to believe one person would like both equally.

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If you get RRS, I wouldn’t fault you for picking UA. The average student at URichmond is better but the top students will be comparable.

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Neither is the absolute better or worse option for every possible student.

The biggest difference is the settings. UA will have about 35K (ugrad + grad) students on a massive campus, while UR has less than 3500 on a smaller more intimate campus. UA will have a combination of students in all sorts of academic and SES ranges, while UR will have mostly higher-stats students from wealthy families. UA is deep south, while UR is southern but of a different flavor. UA has massive sporting arenas/stadiums and competes in major colleges sports conferences, while UR has a different sort of Rah Rah enthusiasm and participates in smaller arenas against less obsessed rivals.

If you plan to study hard and do your best, I don’t think it will matter for your professional career. There is a possibility that you will find more personal happiness at one over the other - and that personal happiness may be more conducive for academic success, which may end up leading to more success after graduation.

None of us can tell you which is a better fit for your personal happiness. Some students would find their space on either campus. Other students would definitely be happier at one over the other. You should do more research to figure out if you have a preference, or if you could thrive at either.

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Regarding SES, both have similar percentages of Pell grant students (17% Alabama, 16% Richmond). Richmond has a higher percentage of list price students, and the list price students have to have more money to pay Richmond’s list price.

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Congrats on your accomplishments and acceptances! It’s great that you are looking at academics first as you choose between the 2. Of you feel that you have a good grasp of what each has to offer and still can’t decide, maybe think about what else is important to you—diversity of students, activities, research/ internship opportunities, etc? You can also get on some of the student pages and see where you feel that you connect with students the most. Good luck!

Curious, where do you live?

These schools are quite different. As a rule a smaller private school, particularly a top 25 LAC is going to offer you a far more intimate and personal education than a giant state university. Do you want to go to a college with a 20-1 student to faculty ratio or one that has an 8-1 ratio? One with an average class size of 16 students or one that will put you in a lecture hall with 300? As an aside, the reason that largess state U’s have “honors colleges” is to try to mimic the environment at small private schools. The other thing you have to ask yourself is do you want to go to a school where a third of the students are from one state vs a school that has students from a variety of places. As you can imagine culturally these two schools will be quite different for this reason alone. Lastly - you have to think of after college - Richmond has a much more east coast orientation which offers the prospect of those connections and opportunities. Alabama has a Deep South orientation. Do you see yourself living / working on the east coast or in Alabama? I think Richmond is a much better school and would offer a much better learning experience & better opportunities going forward.

You’re right. I should have said UA would have many more non-wealthy students, while UR would have fewer. As simple numbers, not percentages.

I’d take URichmond. I think the overall personalized opportunities that come with such a topnotch school AND a full ride there should allow you to benefit from more than at 'Bama (in addition,I don’t know whether your evaluation is correct wrt “more faculty doing research”: for being that highly ranked, its faculty must be conducting high level research in order to get tenure+will allow you to get to R1 summer research programs reserved for LAC students.)
That being said, they’re very different, in such a way that you should know which environment is best for you.
Have you been able to visit?

Thank you for your input! I’ve not been able to visit either yet, but I’m planning on it in the next month. I’ve heard nothing but good things about them both, so it’s a pretty difficult decision.

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Thank you for your thoughtful response! I’m planning on going to grad school and hopefully getting a PhD, so the research opportunities for undergrads is a big deal for me. I hadn’t considered the importance of location too much, but you’ve definitely opened my eyes and forced me to consider that. Thank you!

Univ. of Richmond has about 23% state residents while the University of Alabama has about 38% state residents. But, in sheer numbers, URichmond has about 2,300 non-residents while the University of Alabama has about 18,000 non-residents in their respective undergraduate programs.

I think both schools have their advantages, but don’t underestimate the strength of Bama’s alumni network. I’m sure RIchmond alums are loyal too, but in sheer numbers, they just can’t duplicate what Alabama does. That said, I agree with those who said to go with the better fit for your happiness.

Oddly enough, Richmond is heavily attended by the northeast. You’ll find strong alums with great jobs in DC, Philly, NYC and Boston (and of course Atlanta). When S interviewed a few yrs back, his alum interviewee was a attorney in Tampa who told him almost all of his college friends were from NY and Boston, many in banking, consulting, Corp Fin, etc. Punches way above it’s weight. Although S chose a different school, we were very impressed with Richmond. Was a little too small for S.

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Alabama’s largest alumni group is based in NYC.

CORRECTION: Alabama’s largest alumni group is based in the NFL; next is New York City.

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