Undergraduate Blog

Benefits of a Liberal Arts Foundation

Learn the skills you need in your academic toolkit for the B.S. in Commerce Program and how to gain them through your coursework.

A Pavilion seminar class, part of the College’s Pavilion Seminars program, which continues Thomas Jefferson’s original vision for his Academical Village to present day.

A Pavilion seminar class, part of the College’s Pavilion Seminars program, which continues Thomas Jefferson’s original vision for his Academical Village to present day.

It’s an issue that is relevant and possibly confusing for many students applying to McIntire: Why do I have to take non-business “prereqs?” What can a McIntire hopeful gain from a “liberal arts background” at UVA if they’re planning to study Accounting or Finance?

As spring course schedules become available on Lou’s List, it is critical to understand the Admission Committee’s desire for a diverse class at McIntire. For example, the committee does not look for any one specific class on student transcripts to decide whether or not a student receives admission. Instead, they look for students who engage with a variety of topics and experiences, since coursework like the Integrated Core thrives on bringing unique people with unique interests together to solve problems.

Why should you care, though? How do non-business courses matter once you’re taking Information Technology or Business Analytics? Well, one thing to consider is the balance between your “quantitative” courses like Accounting and “qualitative” courses such as History or Art, for example, which sharpen different areas of your academic toolkit. These classes can range from Religious Studies to Sociology to any of the other departments at UVA. The pursuit of engaging in various non-quantitative classes during your first two years matters more than the particular departments you select. Reading and writing do not go away in Comm, trust me. They are essential for the Integrated Core and any concentration at McIntire. My first assignment was a written report on a fitness firm! These and other McIntire deliverables require the ability to analyze information and write about it concisely and professionally.

Another area that these non-business classes enhance is in McIntire’s case method. In the First Writing Requirement (FWR), you will actively discuss the texts you read with your professor and peers. This will amp up in Comm, where sometimes half of your course grade revolves around participation and where every professor expects you to contribute valuable insights.

A final benefit comes through obtaining feedback. In larger prerequisite courses, it is tough to connect with professors since they are managing hundreds of students. Smaller FWR courses and Artistic, Interpretive, & Philosophical Inquiry (AIP)-eligible classes, though, offer discussion sections and seminars that allow you to seek constant feedback. This is a regular practice in McIntire and in the work world, where seeking real-time feedback is necessary to progress. So, use your FWR, AIP requirement, or other free class spaces to enjoy these discussion-based sections where you learn how to make connections with your teachers, since you’ll be doing it regularly in Comm!

These are some benefits of pre-Comm classes that some may consider unrelated to business. So, simply take classes that you want to take. Note the courses that make you go “Wow, that seems fun!” or “I’ve heard awesome things about that professor!” Remember, these classes can be in anything: Art, Astronomy, Classics, and so much more. UVA is your oyster. These experiences will help your application essay to Comm School, your Integrated Core project, financial analyses, and more during your McIntire and professional careers!

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