Student Perspective: The Power of Extracurriculars

Winnie Tsao, third-year student and McIntire Ambassador

As a prospective Commerce student, you can be deterred from getting involved by the pressure to keep up good grades so that you’re not in over your head or drowning in responsibility. However, extracurricular activities are crucial to your college experience (not to mention they also make up a factor in McIntire’s holistic application review). Here are my top five reasons to get involved on Grounds:

  1. Explore your interests outside of an academic setting. As UVA students, we are lucky to have access to nearly a thousand unique CIOs around Grounds. This gives each and every student the chance to learn something new or apply a learned skill in the real world.
  2. Have the chance to be passionate about something! Extracurriculars give you the opportunity to take the reins on a project and really run with it. Being part of a CIO is a unique experience, in that you get the opportunity to make a difference within the UVA community, Charlottesville community, and sometimes even beyond that.
  3. Discover a new interest. CIOs give you the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and explore a field you might not be able to in class. Sometimes, people even discover their future career interests from their experiences in CIOs!
  4. Gain better time management skills. Being able to juggle between schoolwork and extracurricular activities is an important part of growing up. Joining extracurriculars will allow you to plan out time to dedicate to each activity and you might even see an extracurricular activity as time to “recharge” and a fun break from studying.
  5. Make new friends! Extracurriculars aren’t always just about learning a new skill or adding an activity to your résumé. Extracurriculars are a fun way to get to know other people with similar interests and sometimes even make lifelong friends.

So, don’t be scared of getting involved! Part of the college experience is to venture beyond the classroom, test your boundaries, and discover yourself. Take a leap of faith and join that a cappella group you’ve been eyeing or that investing club today!

-Winnie Tsao, McIntire Ambassador

Winnie Tsao is a third-year McIntire student and McIntire Ambassador. After discovering her love for finance through Alpha Kappa Psi, Winnie spent this past summer interning as an investment banking analyst. Around Grounds, Winnie serves as a Career Peer Educator through the University Career Center, runs long distance, and can be seen “brunching” on the Corner.

Student Perspective: Exam Resources, Study Habits, and Teamwork

Nicky Wildish, third-year student and McIntire Ambassador

In the coming days, prospective Commerce students might take midterms for their prerequisite courses. The exams can be intimidating on a number of levels: Exam classrooms can often hold up to 100 – 150 students; there may be only three exams per class all semester; and the final grades from these prerequisite classes are important in the context of McIntire’s holistic admission process. Here’s some tips to calm nerves and offer some insight on why the future may be bright.

  1. Use your resources. Take advantage of professor and TA office hours. While this advice is dished out seemingly all the time, many students let it sail over their heads without applying it. When it comes to studying, there is no better substitute to working one-on-one with a professor and asking any questions that you may have. Students often perform noticeably better in the classes in which they take advantage of office hours, compared with those they don’t.
  2. It’s crucial to use a combination of group and individual study. First, study on your own, reviewing lecture notes and highlights from the chapter. Repeat what you do know, and write down what you don’t. Then, try to figure out your confusion on your own before asking a friend or professor for help. There is no better way to learn than working through a problem by yourself. If this doesn’t work and a professor is not readily available, work in a team of classmates. Preparing for tests in groups is the best way to learn and study material you would have otherwise not have studied. Also, peers may be able to answer your questions, and you may be able to answer their questions; both are terrific ways to reinforce the material you’re studying.
  3. In the Commerce School, working in teams will become much more commonplace—and necessary. The third-year ICE curriculum is centered on the concept of teamwork. If you strongly prefer teamwork and long-term projects to class lectures and big exams that come with the prerequisite courses, then you’ll certainly enjoy your ICE experience. Rather having three heavily weighted exams for the entire semester like many classes, the ICE curriculum has a diverse range of assignments and evaluations that are used to determine a final grade. Grades come from class participation, team projects (small and large), class presentations, individual projects, exams, quizzes, and more. If you slip up on a grade here or there, it’s usually not a big deal, as you’ll have plenty of opportunities to redeem yourself.

TL/DR: For prospective students taking the daunting prerequisite course exams coming up, remember three things: Use your resources, study, and leverage your peers. The future at McIntire is full of team projects, not just those nerve-racking exams you take in an auditorium with 100 or so other stressed students.

– Nicky Wildish, McIntire Ambassador

Nicky Wildish is a third-year McIntire student and McIntire Ambassador from Darien, Conn. A former high school mascot, he loves all things sports, especially the business side. He’s a member of the Sports Business Club, is a former writer for the sports section of The Cavalier Daily, and previously worked with the Cavalier football team in operations.

I’m Soooo Busy! Extracurriculars, Balance, and Business


Christian West, Assistant Director for McIntire Undergraduate Admission

So you went to the student activities fair, gave 50+ organizations your e-mail, went to a few information sessions, and now you’re wondering what to commit to. During walk-in advising last week, four students in back-to-back meetings asked me this same question. Well, we have an answer, of course.

  1. Follow your passions and interests.

When students ask “What do you want to see students involved in on the applications for McIntire?” I quickly respond with “Whatever you are passionate about and interested in.”  There is no rubric for this. Students who get involved with opportunities they are incredibly passionate about are often the same students who can tell an incredible story about their impact and experience. Do what is important to you, not what you think the Admission Committee would consider impressive.

  1. You don’t have to be a member of a business-related student organization.

Although we suggest involvement in Commerce-related student organizations (CRSOs) and other business-related opportunities because they help to expose students to business industries, practices, and companies, you do not have to be a member of one. Fifty-nine percent of current Commerce students are a member of a CRSO. That may seem like a lot, but it also means that 41% of current Commerce students are engaged in other ways. CRSOs are one way, of many, to get an early exposure to business. If a CRSO peaks your interest, engage with it. If you find yourself drawn to other opportunities, passionately pursue those.

  1. Identify the transferrable skills and characteristics you are developing.

On the application for the B.S. in Commerce Program for current UVA students, you will have five opportunities to list co-curricular activities and engagements. External transfer applicants will have 10 opportunities on Common Application. Do you have more extracurricular activities than the five requested? Awesome! Make this list about the priorities. What’s most important here is that you are able to articulate how your activities can contribute to your success in the business environment. Leadership, communication skills, teamwork, a global mindset, and appreciation for diversity and inclusion are all characteristics we look for in applicants. Think critically about the skills and characteristics you are developing through your involvement and how they will contribute to your continued personal and professional development. We hope you will include aspects of this development in the description of your activities on the application.

  1. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Think depth, not breadth.

There are over 800 contracted independent organizations (CIOs) at UVA, and they cover a lot of ground in terms of focus and interests. There are also part-time job opportunities, internships, and other experiences to consider. Choose a few and develop a strong commitment to them. Consider opportunities for a leadership role. Identify ways to make an impact through the involvement and ensure it is a meaningful experience for yourself. While a long laundry list of involvement might seem impressive, you have only a certain bandwidth when it comes to balancing your commitments with your academic responsibilities. Excelling in both areas will demonstrate to the Admission Committee and future employers that you know yourself well and can effectively manage your commitments.

Every student has their own path to Commerce. Identify yours and go with it. We’re always here to help.

– C

Christian P.L. West in the Assistant Director for McIntire’s Office of Undergraduate Admission. He’s a Double Hoo and current Doctoral student in the Curry School of Education. During Walk-in Advising, ask Christian about the time he lived in California, his thoughts on Starbucks vs. Dunkin’, or his obsession with Husky puppies.

Three Options, One Student: A Curriculum How-To for Prospective McIntire Students

Picking classes for the first time can be a daunting experience, but when you add in three curriculum options, it can seem nearly impossible. Don’t worry, McIntire is here to help! While we can’t tell you exactly what classes to take, even though sometimes you wish we would, we can provide you with resources to help you choose!

So, you’ve already found your way to this blog post, and that’s a great start! If you need more information, refer to the College website. We know there may appear to be a lot of requirements, but breathe a sigh of relief, because ALL three curricula provide the flexibility to take the prerequisite courses needed to apply to McIntire in a timely manner.

Here is a quick synopsis of the three curriculum options:

The Traditional Curriculum enables students to explore a wide breadth of subjects and methods of studying. This general education curriculum requires a minimum of 30 credits to be taken across five different subject areas. Transfer students are automatically placed into this curriculum.

On the other hand, the New College Curriculum allows you to explore the many disciplines offered by the College of Arts & Sciences. It breaks from the Traditional by offering students smaller class sizes and an interdisciplinary learning environment through the Engagements.

Lastly, the Forums provide a tailored group of courses for students who are interested in exploring a particular passion. It allows students to engage in a critical analysis of a central theme while partaking in case studies and group research.

We know what you’re thinking: “These curricula seem well and good, but which one does the Admissions Committee want to see?” Well, the Committee does not prefer one curriculum over the other. McIntire values a diverse student body and wants to see each student use their first two years to create a unique liberal arts foundation on which they can build their integrated Commerce experience. Students tend to excel in coursework that interests them, so feel free to continue onto the higher-level course of the world language you love or explore the Greek Vase Painting class in the Architecture school that intrigues you. Admission into McIntire is a holistic process and we want you to take courses that will prepare you for engaged citizenship, individual human flourishing, and purposeful vocation.

2017 Admissions Process Complete

The 2017 McIntire School of Commerce application process for students already enrolled at UVA is now complete!

The School completed the undergraduate internal admissions process in early June and is excited to welcome the Class of 2019 this fall.

As a reminder, in March, the Admissions Committee reviewed 508 applications and made the following decisions, demonstrating the truly holistic nature of the application review (click image to enlarge):

In May, the Admissions Committee gathered once again to review all applications in their entirety, with a focus on new information that included spring semester grades, applicants’ additional essays, and interview feedback from McIntire alumni. The compelling new applicant information made for an arduous process! Of the 129 deferred applicants, 78 students were offered admission to the School. Once again, the data show only that there is no GPA cutoff or single component of an application favored over another (click image to enlarge):

Ultimately, of the 508 applicants, 338 were offered admission to McIntire–66.5% of the pool. The incoming class’s average cumulative GPA was a 3.68, but from the data shared here, nothing is average about McIntire applicants! Every incoming student demonstrated a level of high engagement within and outside of the UVA community, leadership within their co-curricular experiences, and a strong desire to learn and contribute to the McIntire community.

We’re here over the summer and happy to answer questions about this process. Don’t hesitate to reach out (434-924-3865, or stop by our NEW office in Rouss & Robertson Halls, Room 142, starting July 10.

Best wishes for a GREAT summer!

The Undergraduate Admissions Team

FAQ from Dean Leonard on the Difficult College Acceptance Decision

Email from a Parent to Dean Leonard


I saw your email and blog post and am taking the liberty of emailing you. We live in Virginia, and our son has been admitted to both UVA and a private university. He has not gotten into McIntire but would like to do so if he attends UVA. We are struggling with this decision and would appreciate any perspective you may have.   

The economic choice for us, as in-state residents, is obvious: $30K for UVA vs. $72K for the private university. 

Since he is not guaranteed admission into McIntire, if our son chooses to go to UVA and does NOT get into McIntire, he will have to continue at UVA as a non-business major. On the other hand, with the private school, he is guaranteed to receive a business degree.   

How hard is it to really get into McIntire? And what are his options, short of transferring, if he does not get in?   

Thank you in advance for any perspective you can share.  

Anxious Dad

From Dean Leonard

Dear Anxious Dad,

Congratulations on your son’s acceptance to two great programs. I hope that he is attending one of the Days on the Lawn sessions being held this month for admitted students and that he will attend the McIntire session held at 10:30 a.m. each of the six days. At that session, he will learn about McIntire’s unique integrated approach to the delivery of business education combined with liberal arts preparation that only McIntire can provide. This integrated core curriculum is a key reason McIntire consistently ranks as one of the top business programs in the world. First and foremost, if you have this financial flexibility, I encourage you to let your son make the ultimate decision and to really think about where (geographic, demographic, etc.) he most wants to spend the next four years. Students can find their place and thrive at any institution if they go with an open mind and willingness to get involved and work hard.

The risk of not getting into McIntire is one that students who come to UVA with a desire to pursue business must accept, and understandably, that makes the decision more difficult.  However, “most” (60-70%) students who apply to McIntire are admitted, and those who are not remain at UVA, pursuing a major that leads them toward their desired career goals with a degree from one of the best public institutions on the country! Most business-related activities and organizations are open to all UVA students, and we have an exceptional University Career Center that works with all students.

I think if you ask anyone in public accounting, banking, finance, consulting, and even data analytics, they will say our program has a very solid national brand and that our graduates are aggressively sought out by top companies and firms. But again, determining where your son wants to be in terms of community should be an important factor. I am confident that if you calculate the return on investment over the long term, UVA and McIntire will come out ahead.

Thank you for your email and interest in the McIntire School of Commerce. Should you or your son (we always prefer to speak directly to the “customer”) have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact the McIntire Office of Undergraduate Admission at 434-924-3865.

Rebecca Leonard
Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Admission

What Are Commerce Classes Like?

If you’ve ever looked in a Commerce classroom, you’ll notice that the room is amphitheater-style and that everyone uses name tents. The classrooms are designed this way to be more conducive to classroom discussion—students can see each other’s faces and learn their names. Professors lecture just like in any other University class, but there is a lot more student participation. Discussion helps students understand the topics from different perspectives and also challenges them to tackle problems differently than they normally would. This is a great way to learn content as well as to learn about your peers. Everyone is open, excited, and respectful, which makes for a great learning environment.


You might be wondering if the Comm School is only a good fit for extroverts. The answer is NO, absolutely not! Many students want the opportunity to speak, but no one is speaking over others. Because the discussions are mediated by professors, everyone will have the chance to speak if they choose. I’ve noticed that most students usually feel strongly about or are highly interested in at least some topics throughout each course, and it’s a great opportunity to bring in outside examples or other related knowledge you might have. I was afraid at first of raising my hand to offer my opinions and responses in front of my class of 40 students; however, each time I spoke, it was less nerve-wracking than the last and I got a lot of public-speaking practice throughout as well.

–Third-Year McIntire Student


Undergraduate Admission Process, March 2017 Update

From the Desk of Rebecca Leonard, Associate Dean, McIntire School of Commerce

Re: Undergraduate Admission Process, March 2017 Update

The McIntire School of Commerce Undergraduate Admission Committee has completed the initial reading of fall 2017 applications from UVA students.

Summary of Application Information

Of the 508 UVA students who applied, the School will ultimately be able to offer admission to 320-330 students. The applicants once again presented remarkably strong credentials, with an average UVA cumulative GPA of 3.58. On March 9, emails will be sent to University students regarding the Admission Committee’s decision. Of the 508 students who applied, 260 were offered admission, 129 were deferred, and 119 were declined admission.

At the end of the spring semester, the Committee will review additional application information from the 129 deferred students and anticipates making offers to approximately 65 of those applicants. In addition to spring grades, deferred applicants will have the opportunity to submit another written essay and to participate in an interview to demonstrate oral communication skills.

A Holistic Evaluation

Throughout the selection process, the Committee considers multiple factors, including communication skills, leadership and teamwork skills, co-curricular engagement, academic performance, and strength of semester schedule/course load, as evidenced through the application. Those students admitted achieved an average UVA cumulative GPA of 3.75, with a range of cumulative GPAs from 2.95 to 4.0, demonstrating the Committee’s holistic evaluation of each applicant. Those students deferred achieved an average UVA cumulative GPA of 3.50. In addition to outstanding academic performance, students offered admission and deferral demonstrated exceptionally strong leadership skills and co-curricular activities. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

2017 Admissions by the Numbers

For Additional Information

Students with questions regarding the undergraduate admission process should contact the McIntire Office of Undergraduate Admission at 434-924-3865 or or are welcome to come by during walk-in advising beginning Monday, March 13, 2017.

Is an Internship Necessary between Your First and Second Years?

An internship is not at all necessary between your first and second years. Do what you love to do. I worked as a lifeguard between my first year and second years. This past summer, between my second and third years, I worked as an Orientation Leader instead of pursuing an internship. It is important to remember that you are not expected to complete an internship during these summers and that everyone has a different story. I viewed my Orientation Leader experience as an opportunity to improve myself in a holistic sense. I looked to enhance my public speaking ability, among other skills. Don’t forget, however, that everyone has taken a different path to get where they are today. Some of my friends traveled, some took classes, and some even took the summer off to relax. There isn’t a set path to success; do what you love and everything else will fall into place.

-Third-Year McIntire Student

What Now?

Now that you have submitted your application, you probably feel a great sense of relief as well as some apprehension regarding the upcoming admissions decision. So what do you do during those awkward weeks as you wait? Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Do not second-guess yourself. Don’t start thinking about what you should have, could have, or would have written now that you’ve had more time to ponder your essays. It’s done – do not dwell on this.
  • Be aware that we will update all SIS data prior to reviewing, so if your schedule changes, this will be reflected in your application. This includes withdrawing from courses, so be very careful when adjusting your schedule.
  • Keep up with your coursework and continue to work hard academically.
  • Don’t worry about the decision deadline. You will know your decision the middle of March – there is no set date for your decision e-mail to be sent.
  • Relax. The hard part is over. Enjoy whatever weather Mother Nature sends our way as much as you can, exercise, and start looking forward to spring.

Above all, keep in mind that you are at UVA, one of the best (okay, THE best) public universities in the country and the education you receive will provide a firm foundation for a successful future, no matter what happens in March. There are so many opportunities for you, whether or not you are in the Commerce School, and the McIntire Student Services Office will be happy to meet with you to discuss your options.