UVA, McIntire Offer Opportunities for Students to Find Their Passion

UVA allowed Ellis O'Day to explore different subject areas as he zeroed in on a major.

Like many of you, at this time of my senior year of high school, I still had a lot of uncertainty about where I wanted to attend college. I had visited several schools, liked most of them, but hadn’t decided what was best for me. I was undecided about what I wanted to study, and how that connected with my ultimate goals in terms of a job and future profession. I am not going to convince you to come to UVA necessarily, but will share with you my path and reflect on the decision I made four years ago.

I have no regrets choosing UVA and McIntire. UVA embraces not only those who have clearcut goals and aspirations upon enrollment but also intellectual curiosity. UVA gives each student the flexibility to find their passions while here. I came to UVA unsure of what I wanted to study. I knew about McIntire, but upon entering my first year, I had no intention of pursuing business or even applying to the School. I spent my first year taking a variety of classes that sounded interesting to me. This ranged from astronomy, to Western politics, to economics, to a Commerce prerequisite. I took everything. It was through this process of experimentation that I became interested in McIntire, and then decided to apply.

I am grateful not only for my two years at McIntire but also for my first two years at UVA. It was during those first two years that I was able to organically narrow down my interests, get involved, and feel at home here. It was that flexibility that makes UVA and McIntire both so special. UVA and McIntire both want students to have interests that are diverse and evolving. They want students to come as they are and bring their backgrounds and perspectives to the table regardless of what they might be.

I know there is also uncertainty regarding admission into McIntire. This process can seem a bit daunting at first. I will say that by no means will you be behind on other major requirements by pursuing McIntire prerequisites. The prerequisites complement requirements that all students complete as part of their general education. While I understand there will always be anxiety regarding the admissions process, I think UVA gives everyone ample opportunity to find other interests and have the time and ability to pursue them. Further, McIntire gives students several other ways to pursue a business education, including elective courses, minors, and the certificate and master’s programs.

Taking myself back four years, I can say that I came to the right place. UVA and McIntire embody the “college experience” that was important to me. This experience might mean something different for everyone. Still, for me, it was the ability to explore my interests, get involved outside the classroom, and feel a part of a greater community. I encourage any student who simply doesn’t know what they are passionate about to prioritize choosing an institution that allows you to find it. I know that UVA is one, and as a fourth-year, I would make the same decision again.

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