Frequently Asked Questions

What does ASPiRE stand for?

Academic Scholars Program in Real Environments

How do I fit in the additional ASPiRE classes?

Students in ASPiRE take 9 credits over the two years in the program. This includes the required 3-credit UNIV 200 course. During the first semester in the program students take a 3-credit introductory course. In each subsequent semester they take a 1-credit class. Students in the program receive early registration that allows them to create a schedule that is able to accommodate both their major and program requirements. All ASPiRE classes are offered on multiple days/times.

Do I need to be a certain major to be in the program?

No, we have students in the program from more than 40 different majors. ASPiRE is a program that is a flexible fit for students with varied interests.

What if I have never done service before?

ASPiRE is a great way to explore helping the community in an organized and facilitated fashion. Students are able to learn about the city of Richmond, meet other students, and help the community with the guidance and oversight of qualified professional staff.

What if I don’t have a car?

ASPiRE provides transportation to and from most events unless they are on-campus or in walking distance. No car, no worries!

Can I study abroad while I am in the program?

Yes, just communicate your plans with the staff and we will work with you to make a plan that works so you can explore the world and continue to be a part of the ASPiRE program.

What is a co-curricular?

Co-curriculars are opportunities and activities that take place outside of the traditional curriculum or classroom setting. Students participating in ASPiRE have the opportunity to have engaged learning experiences that take place in both the classroom and the community.

How do I get co-curricular hours?

ASPiRE takes the stress out of planning service for students by planning and facilitating all co-curricular activities. These activities are listed on an online calendar for students to sign up. Students can sign up for co-curriculars that fit their interest and schedule. Students who wish to remain on-track in the program do an average of 25 co-curricular hours each semester they are in the program.

How do I learn about things happening in the program and community?

Students can always look at the online calendar to find out what co-curricular activities are happening. In addition, program staff send out a biweekly newsletter that highlights items happening in the program that may be of interest to students. The program hosts a Blackboard site where documents and opportunities are also posted. It is expected that all students check their e-mail on a regular basis (i.e. several times per week) for program communication.

Do all of my co-curricular hours take place in the community?

Students must complete 100 co-curricular hours over the course of the program. These consist of a combination of hours that include direct service, leadership opportunities, workshops, and participation in residential activities.

Live (10 hours)

Students can get Live hours by going to any program within West Grace South that is planned by a Resident Assistant. ASPiRE students may also work with program staff to plan social activities to support positive interactions and communication among students living in West Grace South. 

Lead (10 hours)

Students can get Lead hours by participating in a variety of committees and activities sponsored by ASPiRE. These include, but are not limited to assisting with planning the annual Halloween event, planning activities for local community organizations, hosting a program, or serving on the West Grace South Hall Council.

Learn (10 hours)

Students can earn Learn hours through participating in various activities on-campus or off-campus that involve learning more about a specific topic or issue. These can be workshops, lectures, or discussion groups. Students also have the opportunity to attend and/or present at conferences during the year.

Engage (50 hours)

Students can earn Engage or direct service hours by working with various partners in the community. These can include mentoring/tutoring children, distributing food, assisting with the community garden, and other activities that directly benefit individuals in the community.

An additional 20 hours must be completed in ANY of the categories of a student’s choosing.

Do co-curriculars take place on nights and weekends?

ASPiRE does co-curriculars based on what the community needs. When there is a need for help in the evening co-curriculars are offered during that time, but most need is during business hours (M-F, 9-6pm). The program does work to provide weekend options for service to accommodate rigorous academic schedules. Weekend options are typically two times per month for a longer duration than typical co-curricular activities.

What if I can’t live in the West Grace South building?

Living in the building with other ASPiRE students is a critical part of a living-learning community. It is expected that all program participants live in West Grace South where they are guaranteed housing for the two years they participate in ASPiRE. Currently, exceptions can be made for the living requirement for students who have lived in-residence for at least one year who have been selected to serve as a Resident Assistant in a different location for their second year. Other exceptions may be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Can co-curricular hours completed outside of ASPiRE count?

ASPiRE is dedicated to working with their identified community partners so it is important that students commit to completing the majority of their hours with pre-approved sites. During the second year of program participation students have an opportunity to obtain some of their hours through independent service. These hours must be reviewed by a staff member and verified in order to count towards co-curricular completion.