I Felt at Home When I Visited UVA

T.J. Watson shares his decision-making process and the factors that went into his decision to choose UVA as his undergraduate institution.

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to college, but now you need to make the difficult decision of which school you will attend. I still vividly remember struggling to choose between UVA and another school, but I have not regretted my decision since.

The first thing I considered is how I pictured my dream school in my head. Toss out the rankings, your parents’ opinion, and your friends’ decisions for now. Imagine the place where you will be the most successful. I knew I preferred a school with a traditional campus (not a city school), lots of school spirit and sports, and an undergraduate business school. UVA checked off these boxes, but I still had some concerns.

I knew when I began applying to colleges that I wanted to pursue business, but I was unsure of what area of business (besides a particular interest in big data). I also knew that colleges varied in their business programs: Some began the first year you arrived, and others were two-year programs that required another application. McIntire is one of the latter. My concerns around UVA stemmed from my uncertainty about my major and the fact that I was not guaranteed admission to McIntire.

My first concern was diminished once I learned about the Integrated Core Experience (ICE). An experience designed to expose students to various business functions – strategy, finance, marketing, communication, etc. – was precisely what I needed to help me clarify my career path. During my third year, I would be able to freely explore different business areas without having to commit to one until later. McIntire also had programs revolving around data. The Information Technology concentration and Business Analytics Track sparked my interest and comforted me; I would be able to pursue my interests effectively.

The second concern was a more significant hurdle. I had been accepted to other schools where I would be able to begin a business major immediately. Further, I would not have to risk applying to the business school two years later and potentially get rejected. However, a few factors convinced me that UVA was the best choice for me. As stated previously, McIntire had particular programs that intrigued me and played into my interests. UVA would also give me the chance to explore other fields of study, both through the ICE program and through the two years before applying to the Commerce School. I knew UVA was a well-known and respected academic institution; if I ended up not getting into the Commerce School, a degree from UVA would still be impressive, and professors in other majors are still highly accomplished. I was also confident that UVA would have plenty of resources outside of McIntire to help me achieve my career goals if I was not accepted. Lastly, I realized that my University experience is about more than just my major. It includes the opportunities I would have, the atmosphere I would be learning in, and the memories I will make. This led me to an essential factor in my decision: I felt at home when I visited UVA. This last factor can’t be explained with pros and cons; it is merely a feeling you have to trust. Combined with all the other positives, this feeling helped me overcome my concerns.

Your college decision is important, so reflect on your preferences for a university, the paths you might take, and where you feel at home. Remember that a school is much more than any number or comment you see online. And, wherever you choose, know that you will have the opportunity to flourish!

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