With spring course enrollment upon us, the looming question becomes “What classes should I take??”
In short, the answer is this: If you are planning to apply to McIntire, finish out your prerequisites and then take whatever interests you most! Yet, many eager, hopeful, and obediently hardworking prospective McIntire students find themselves commenting, “Okay, great. But (**wink, wink**) which classes will get me into McIntire?”
I am here to dispel the ultimate myth: McIntire does not have a prescribed path through admissions. Nor is there a recommended path outside of the prereqs (see https://www.commerce.virginia.edu/undergrad/prerequisites for the official prerequisites list). McIntire simply wants to encourage students to challenge themselves and passionately pursue different topics. Now that being said, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind when selecting classes:
- McIntire considers a “full course load” to be 14-16 credits – consider taking a load within this range.
- All prerequisites must be completed by the time you enter McIntire. That is, if you apply during January of your second year and have not finished all the prereqs, you need to enroll in the remaining classes for that spring semester. You do not have to complete all the prereqs at the time you apply – you simply need to complete all these courses before starting McIntire in the fall of third year.
My recommendations to prospective McIntire students are to (1) work toward developing new skill sets and (2) take a little time to explore classes and just learn for the sake of learning!
For example, if you are really interested in statistics or just don’t know very much about the discipline, consider filling in those knowledge gaps by taking a STAT course. Or, if you think it would be useful to pick up a new language and learn about a different culture in the process, completely immerse yourself in UVA’s foreign languages. Personally, I decided to take American Sign Language (ASL) because I knew very little about the language. Yet, much to my surprise, over the course of four semesters of study, I learned much more than just a new language: I learned about a community that is rich in culture and history. I realized that it is not necessary to cross an entire ocean or national borders to immerse yourself in a new community.
When working toward a degree, certificate, or some type of academic milestone, there are inherently certain requirements that must be met. In my experience, we often impose “tunnel vision”-type mindset on ourselves. We get so focused on needing to meet requirements that we forget to look up and see the otherwise unknown opportunities. Since McIntire is an upper-divisional school (i.e., the program typically takes place over students’ third and fourth years), there is time to taste-test different disciplines. Personally, I found a great love and fascination for human behavior and psychology. I really get excited and nerdy when studying how and why people think and act certain ways! Others really enjoy politics and media and take lots of Media Studies courses. There are even those who “have their heads in the clouds” and geek out on UVA’s Astronomy and Environmental classes! McIntire really celebrates intellectual curiosity and supports academic diversity in its incoming classes! The admissions committee takes into consideration the different academic paths of every single applicant.
All in all, I have great empathy for those who just want to be told to “Take ___ classes at ____ time.” However, the business world, and McIntire as its proxy, will push you beyond the comfort of a pre-designated path. When selecting classes, embrace the challenge of discovering different topics and corners of UVA’s academic community. You might just be surprised by what you find! And if you’re really business-savvy, you can almost always find a way to incorporate your knowledge into a business setting.