At the beginning of my sophomore year at Hampden-Sydney, I was informed that I would be able to graduate in three years. As an economics major with the desire to start a career in finance, I began searching for a one-year program that would complement my primarily theoretical undergraduate degree while adding some hard business skills. As a native Virginian and a frequent Charlottesville visitor, it was not long before I heard about McIntire’s M.S. in Commerce (MSC). The program is specifically designed for liberal arts, science and engineering students to take an additional year to build a foundation in business and sharpen their skills in either finance, marketing and management, or business analytics—a perfect fit for any Hampden-Sydney student looking to enter into the business world.
I’d like to share three aspects of the McIntire MSC experience and how they relate to my experiences at Hampden-Sydney. Overall, I have had a wonderful experience in the program thus far and I look forward to seeing more Hampden-Sydney students join the McIntire ranks next year!
As someone who loved the academic environment at Hampden-Sydney, I am happy to say that McIntire is very similar. Although our curriculum is generally more application-based than that of my largely theoretical economics degree, the academic rigor, professorial relationships, and dedication to an honor code are major tenants one’s experience at McIntire just as they are at H-SC. Additionally, the infamous rhetoric and writing components of every Hampden-Sydney student’s education have been great assets to me in the program thus far.
The biggest course in the fall semester of MSC is Strategy & Systems, which requires several large reports and deliverables—allowing me to blend my training in argumentative writing with practical business knowledge. In terms of student relationship building with the faculty, much like at H-SC I have found all of our professors to be tremendously brilliant, very kind, and legitimately interested in getting to know their students on an individual level. Many professors have graciously given students personalized job-seeking advice, alumni contact information in a relevant industry, or offered to write recommendations for further educational programs after learning what we would like to do after the program.
Like I mentioned earlier, much like Hampden-Sydney, UVA also has a highly regarded honor code that consistently guides the university’s community of trust. Similar to the reverence for and implementation of H-SC’s honor system, McInitre students take great pride in going about their academic lives in an honorable fashion.
As a final bonus, much like H-SC, McIntire boasts a remarkable alumni network. On several occasions we have had the pleasure of listening to prominent alums like John Griffin of Blue Ridge Capital speak to us in a private lectures. Even more exciting is the level of engagement McInitre alums have had in the career search process. Countless graduates took the tame to have informational phone calls or participate in on-grounds recruiting for their firms this fall. I have now thoroughly used both the H-SC and UVA networks and not surprisingly, I often had the best success when I found overlap between them.
There is no question that the Hampden-Sydney student is no stranger to living and learning in a place with immense historical significance. Let’s not forget, Hampden-Sydney was founded 44 years earlier than UVA in 1775. Faculty and staff at H-SC take pride in educating their students about the incredible history that informs, surrounds, and permeates throughout life at the college. UVA is no exception. Going to graduate school in a place that also puts a great emphasis on its history and traditions is a wonderful thing and it makes one feel like he/she too has the opportunity to leave their mark on the university. The University’s Grounds rival those of Hampden-Sydney with incredible architecture, manicured lawns, and beautiful gardens less than sixty seconds from McIntire.
There are a plethora of community traditions and many involve the historic Lawn. Whether it be trick-or-treating during Halloween or illuminating it during a 1,000+ student party at Christmas time (much like the lighting of Venable), the Lawn is a cornerstone of the UVA cultural experience. In fact, one of the best parts of my experience at UVA has been being fortunate enough to be able to live on the historic Range (essentially the outer Lawn).
Just as the Lawn houses/represents a small, diverse group of undergraduate seniors, the Range is a community comprised of students across all graduate programs. Not only is being able to live in a historic room occupied by residents since the late 1800’s (list of their names appear in each Range room) an incredible experience in itself, but the Range also essentially operates as a social club. As a two-time fraternity executive at Hampden-Sydney, it has been great to have a similarly-minded community of graduate students to enjoy the UVA experience with. Applying to live on the range is something that I would highly recommend that any McIntire student consider after being accepted to the program.
From the moment one steps onto Hampden-Sydney’s immaculate campus, you become a part of the entrancing yet indescribable aura that surrounds the culture of the college. I met the best people while attending Hampden-Sydney and it was important to me that I selected a graduate program where I could continue to build lifelong friendships and craft a network for the future. The MSC program is incredibly diverse in terms of the representation of undergraduate institutions and majors, including several international students. I have always learned a great deal from those with different perspectives and McIntire has given us all an excellent platform to do so.
In fact, my fellow students at McIntire are some of the most most kind, brilliant, and entertaining people that I have ever met. During the first semester of the program, you are assigned to a team that will work together on assignments across multiple classes. In my team, we had a math major, a media studies major, and a psychology major just to name a few. Despite our diverse academic backgrounds, we were consistently able to mesh our perspectives and find creative solutions to whatever problems we were solving. In terms of the class as a whole, there was huge push from within the class to hang out with each other whenever possible so that we could better bond as a unit.
Charlottesville has a lively social scene, between its collection of incredible restaurants and college bars—a welcomed change from downtown Farmville’s “slightly limited” offerings. Further, Charlottesville and the surrounding areas are full of great events and experiences. From breweries and wineries, to concerts, hiking, fly-fishing, or polo, there’s a little something for everyone. Additionally, a quick visit to see old friends or watch some ‘Tigerball’ at H-SC is only an hour and fifteen minutes away. Ultimately, the culture of the program and its students has consistently left me feeling excited to spend more time around my professors and peers both inside and outside of the classroom.