UVA and McIntire: The Best of Both Worlds

At McIntire, Kathryn Cardenas finds the small class sizes and community she had been looking for in her college search.

McIntire students play in the McIntire's annual Kickball Tournament.

McIntire students play in the Schools annual Kickball Tournament.

During my college search, I had no idea what school I wanted to attend. The decision process was daunting, but also exciting. I initially thought I wanted to attend a small school. I enjoyed learning in a small classroom setting, and I thought it would be hard to find a community within a larger school. Even though UVA is not a small school, it was on my list of possible schools. I knew UVA had a great business school, but I was hesitant about having to apply to McIntire during my second year. However, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to study business! So with zero ideas of where I wanted to go to school or what I wanted to study, I attended Days on the Lawn.

After visiting Grounds and walking around the school, I realized I really enjoyed Charlottesville. I thought Grounds was beautiful, and I especially loved the history and atmosphere that the rest of Charlottesville offered. I could imagine myself walking on the Lawn, eating on the Corner, and cheering on the Hoos. I also loved UVA’s traditions like the “Good Old Song,” the Honor Code, and Lighting of the Lawn. To me, UVA had it all. I knew that no matter what I studied at UVA, I would receive a degree from a great university, one I could be proud of. Once I decided on UVA, all I had to do was choose what to study.

Students do not have to declare a major until second year, so I had plenty of time to explore a variety of classes. One of the great things about the McIntire prerequisites is that they apply to many majors. Even if I wasn’t accepted to McIntire, I knew I would still be able to complete a major I was interested in if I took the prerequisites. With that in mind, I enrolled in the McIntire prerequisites during my first year. My favorite prerequisite classes were microeconomics and macroeconomics. I found I was actually excited to attend lectures and read for those classes! I also took multiple psychology courses, which I enjoyed. I even took a position as a psychology research assistant to learn more about the field.

I continued to take advanced classes in economics and psychology as I completed the McIntire prerequisites. I really enjoyed these subjects and knew they would be good options for me if I decided not to study business.

I finally decided to apply to McIntire after I took the two accounting prerequisite classes. They were by far my favorite classes at UVA. I enjoyed that accounting is a combination of math, business, and strategy. I also enjoyed the rules and logic behind accounting. McIntire is the only way to study accounting at UVA, so I decided to apply.

When I was applying, I knew I was set up well to major in economics or psychology if I was not accepted. No matter what I ended up studying, I knew UVA was a great school. I also knew I could consider attending McIntire’s Master’s in Accounting Program after graduation if I wanted to pursue a career in accounting.

I was accepted into McIntire, and it has greatly shaped my future. My experience at McIntire has been my favorite part about my time at UVA. McIntire gave me the small class sizes and community I had initially looked for in my college search. Through McIntire, I was able to experience all the benefits of attending a large state school (like winning the National Championship), while being a part of a smaller school within McIntire. At McIntire, I know almost all my classmates, I feel like my professors are invested in my education and future career, and I have access to a great alumni network. Some of my favorite memories at UVA are winning the McIntire Kickball Tournament with my class, going to Lighting of the Lawn with my McIntire friends, and getting to know my professors. My McIntire professors were the first professors to invite my class to their house for dinner. They constantly go out of their way to help me learn material, plan my future career, and get to know me.

While I have loved my experience in McIntire, my first two years at UVA (pre-McIntire) were also great. I was able to meet people who are now close friends, and make great memories. I know that if I had not been accepted to McIntire, I would have still loved my time at UVA; it just would have looked different. It may seem risky to attend a school where you are not guaranteed the opportunity to study business, but I would encourage anyone to take the chance. Either way, you will still be a Hoo!

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