Category Archives: Course Advising

To Withdraw or Not to Withdraw, That Is the question!

With the approach of the withdrawal deadline (Oct. 18), you may be considering the option of withdrawing from a course that:

  1. You are doing poorly in
  2. You are not finding as interesting as you thought
  3. Is so overwhelming that your other courses are suffering
  4. All of the above

Let’s face it – you know the Admissions Committee doesn’t want to see Ws on an applicant’s transcript. It is very difficult to know why a student would withdraw from a course, so assumptions can be made that the student is lazy, doesn’t want to work, can’t carry a full course load, or is so overly concerned about their GPA that the thought of getting under a B sends the student into crisis mode.

Once in the Commerce School, students are required to carry 15 credits each semester of their third year and will never be allowed to W from a Comm class.

Before you withdraw from a course, you should ask yourself several questions:

  1. What is “doing poorly”? Are you afraid of pulling a B-, C+, or even a C? Please be aware that the Commerce Admissions Committee views a withdraw in a course as a negative. Ask yourself if it is worth having a W show up on your transcript as opposed to a passing grade in a class that you completed successfully.
  2. There will be courses that might not be as exciting as others – that’s life. Stick with it, learn the material, and who knows? It may turn out to be one of those courses that will provide you with skills that you will use long after the course is over. You don’t get to withdraw from a project at work once you are in the real world.
  3. Learn time management skills now. Plan your schedule with course credit hours in mind. Fifteen to sixteen credits are typical. Don’t overload with 4-credit courses that will boost your credit hours to 17 or above and therefore give you more work.
  4. Before withdrawing from a class, meet with your associate dean for additional input and advice. Also, attend our walk-in hours in Rouss & Robertson Halls, Room 163, for additional feedback. You want your application to be as competitive as possible, and we’re here to help.
  5. Sometimes problems with one class or personal problems can spill over and impact your performance in your classes. In some instances, you may really need to withdraw to maintain overall academic and personal balance; if so, then go ahead, but make sure you address this in the optional essay on your application.

What Calculus Course Should I Take?

The most frequently asked questions that the McIntire Undergraduate Admission Office receives are regarding math and the appropriate course to take.

As you are probably aware, McIntire requires only one Calculus course to enroll, but you may not know that there are at least eight different flavors of calculus offered at UVA that satisfy this requirement. So a question we get asked a lot is “Which Calculus course should I take?”

What are the four sequences of Calculus taught at UVA?

1.A Survey of Calculus I with Algebra (MATH 1190)

  • One-semester 4-credit course covering the same material as MATH 1210, but with additional instruction in college algebra. It is intended for students with no previous exposure to Calculus who may need extra help.

2. Applied Calculus sequence (MATH 1210 & 1220)

  • Two 3-credit courses (no discussion sections), intended for non-math intensive majors in the College (e.g., Commerce, Biology, Economics, Psychology).
  • Meets the Calculus requirement for almost all majors, but does not prepare students for further coursework in Mathematics.

3. Traditional Calculus sequence (MATH 1310, 1320 & 2310)

  • Three 4-credit courses (each with a discussion section), intended for Math and Natural Science majors in the College.
  • MATH 1320 is a prerequisite for any 2000-level Math course or higher.
  • MATH 2315 (“Honors Calculus III”) is offered each fall and intended for students planning to take graduate-level math courses. It’s rare that we see a McIntire applicant take this course.

4. Engineering Calculus sequence (APMA 1090, 1110 & 2120)

  • Three 4-credit courses, intended for engineering majors.
  • Essentially the Engineering equivalent of MATH 1310, 1320 & 2310.

I don’t have any Calculus credit. Which should I take?

If you have no previous exposure to Calculus, we recommend MATH 1190 or MATH 1210. The workload is less intense, and both still meet the requirement. The only reason to take the more challenging MATH 1310 is if you are interested in higher-level mathematics and/or intend to pursue Math, Statistics, or Physics as a double major.

But I heard you have to take Calculus II or Calculus III to get in?

We’ve dispelled that rumor before. That said, there are a number of reasons applicants take additional coursework in mathematics.

What if I’m coming in with AP or IB credit for MATH 1310?

Then you’ve already fulfilled McIntire’s prerequisite requirement for Calculus; if you never want to see Calculus again, then you don’t have to.

So if I do take Calculus II, which one should I take?

If you intend to take higher-level math courses, then take MATH 1320. If not, we suggest taking MATH 1220 — even if you got AP credit for MATH 1310.

Additional notes about math

  • The admissions committee likes to see math coursework done here at UVA, particularly if you received AP or transfer credit for the math requirement.
  • Potential Finance concentrators are encouraged to complete additional coursework in mathematics.
  • Economics and most science majors require two semesters of Calculus.

So what’s the gist?

  • High school calculus and college calculus are very different, so unless you’re confident in your math skills, be sure to explore your options before committing to higher-level courses.
  • There are several other ways to demonstrate your quantitative ability outside of taking Calculus II or III, including completing quantitative courses in the departments of Economics, Statistics, Psychology, Sociology, Computer Science, and more, that can show your ability to handle the quantitative curriculum at McIntire.
  • Unless you want to take higher-level math, take the Applied Calculus sequence.
  • You can take Calculus II to prep for finance or for another major, but there are many other quantitative courses you can take to demonstrate your mathematics proficiency on your application.

As always, if you have any questions, speak with an admissions counselor, either during open office hours or by appointment.

What Every First Year Student Considering Commerce Student Should Know

Registration for current first-year UVA students is approaching, and many of you who plan on applying to the McIntire School of Commerce for fall 2015 will have questions about courses, both prerequisites as well as possible electives. During this time, you might also hear from your friends or friend-of-a-friend-of-a-cousin who is a current Commerce student about what the Admissions Committee looks for and what class looks better than another. Although these students mean well, they do not sit on the committee and are really uninformed about our review process.

If you have questions about the admissions process, please come and meet with a McIntire adviser, who will be straightforward, dispel rumors, and address your concerns/questions. McIntire’s Student Services Office holds open office hours each week when school is in session; we are also available for individual appointments if these hours are not convenient for you. You can contact our office at 434-9242-3865.

Some of the basic information that might help as you begin to think about classes for fall 2014 can be found below:

  • Stay on track with your College area requirements. Believe it or not, these are good, solid courses that can benefit you even if you do enter the Commerce School. McIntire values the skills of a liberal arts education, as business is broad and cannot be defined by quantitative courses alone.
  • You should not take more than two quantitative prerequisites in one semester. These include COMM 1800, COMM 2010, and 2020; Econ 2010 and 2020; calculus (Math 1210 or a higher level); and Stats. Spread these out over your first two years, and maintain a balance in your coursework.
  • We often are asked about elective courses and what business-related courses a student can take to prepare for the Comm School. As we repeatedly say, you should take courses that are interesting to you, classes that you will enjoy and want to attend. As you move forward in your academic career, you want to challenge yourself without diving into a course that is designed for students with more developed skills than you currently have. In other words, as a second-year student, you should be taking 2000-level courses, possibly one or two 3000-level if you are confident in the subject, and even a 1000-level if needed for a major/minor you might be considering. Do not, however, load up on 1000-level courses at this stage OR jump into a 4000-level course that will overwhelm you.
  • AP credit for prerequisites. If you have some AP credit, especially for some of the Commerce requirements, do not automatically use this as a free ride to avoid courses you consider as already completed. Yes, if you received credit for Math 1310, then you have satisfied the math requirement. However, you should seriously think about taking an additional math course at the college level. Please do not jump into Math 1320, as this course is for math majors. Consider taking Math 1220, which is for liberal arts students and can give you the refresher you might need for your third-year as a Commerce student.
  • If you are curious where you stand with regard to completing the requirements and what you might still need for the Commerce School, please run a “What-If” report in SIS. You will be able to see your academic requirement needs as if you were a Commerce student.
  • Find out more about the Commerce School to see if this is the place you would like to be. In addition to COMM 1800, 2010, and 2020, you will probably want to learn more about the classroom environment, student life, and services. You can do this by simply taking advantage of the various ways to get involved. Sit in on a class, take a tour, or join a student organization. All of these activities are ways to get a taste of the Comm School before entering the School.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do hesitate to contact our office. We are here for you.

Rumor Has It

No, this is not a post about an Adele song, but a post about all those pesky rumors that spin around Grounds regarding the McIntire School, admissions, and requirements. It’s impossible to know how these get started, and just when we think we’ve heard them all, another one pops up!

The latest rumor, concerning the math requirement, is that in order to be admitted to the Commerce School, you should complete Calculus III. Simply put, this is just not true. Although more and more students are coming into UVA with AP credit for Calculus 1310 and 1320, this does not mean that your automatic next step should be jumping full force into a course you are not prepared to take. High school calculus and college calculus are very different, and unless you are confident in your math skills, we suggest you explore your options before committing to a higher-level course.

It is true that the Admissions Committee would like to see some math done here at UVA, but there are several ways to show your quantitative ability. Academic backgrounds and situations vary by student, so do not rely on the rumor mill for your advising! Come to speak with an admissions counselor, either during open office hours or by appointment and learn the real truth.

Taking Prerequisite Courses at Other Colleges/Universities – Current UVA Students

Many UVA students who wish to apply to the McIntire School inquire about taking a requirement (or two) over the summer at another college or university. In most cases, McIntire strongly advises taking your requirements at UVA during the regular academic session. The reasons for this are simple: We know how courses are taught here, we are more familiar with the curriculum, and we have confidence that they will best prepare you for the Commerce School curriculum. This is especially important with the Comm classes (COMM 1800, COMM 2010, and COMM 2020). Some students think that taking classes elsewhere during the summer might boost their GPA, but doing so might actually give the admissions committee more concern about your ability to successfully compete at UVA.There are special cases, however, when taking a requirement or two during the summer might make sense. For example, some students decide late that they would like to apply to the Commerce School and are attempting to catch up on missing requirements. Although this is understandable, I suggest that you meet with a Commerce adviser before registering for any prerequisite courses outside of UVA. Be advised that you must also obtain departmental approval for the courses as well as approval from the registrar of your current school. Because you are not a Commerce student yet, all transfer courses need to be approved through your current school of enrollment. McIntire does not approve math, statistics, or economics courses. Also, foreign language courses cannot be taken outside of UVA without the approval of the specific department where the language is housed, and the College will not allow you to transfer any of your area requirements.So before you sign up for those summer classes, think twice. It makes sense to get that econ or math course completed if you still have all your Comm courses to take in your second year, but please talk with an adviser first. Feel free to send me an email if you’d like to discuss your specific situation.

Engineering Business – What Is This at UVA?


We are often asked about programs that combine business and engineering. The McIntire School and the Engineering School do not have a joint or dual degree. In fact, no joint or dual degrees exist at UVA except in the case of a few Education programs. The Engineering School offers an engineering business minor, available only to Engineering students, in which students take several McIntire courses on a space-available basis. At UVA, you must be enrolled in a specific school, and the school you are enrolled in during your final semester is the school from which you receive your degree. It is possible to complete a second major from another school at UVA, but it is not a second degree. A student may apply to the McIntire School (typically during the second year), enter the McIntire School for the third and fourth years, and complete the B.S. in Commerce as well as a second major in one of the Engineering departments. However, this combination is very rare and difficult. Any student who enters the McIntire School must complete 39 credits in Commerce courses during the third and fourth years, leaving 21 credits to be completed outside of the School. So, if the course scheduling works out, a student can complete a second major in Engineering with 21 credits during the third and fourth years. Many students who have attempted this approach discover that it is too challenging, and it makes more sense to complete the B.S. in Engineering and then later pursue a graduate business degree. One student completed the B.S. in Commerce with a second major in Engineering, but he had to petition and get special permission to stay a ninth semester.

Given these challenges, many students may find that it makes more sense to complete a B.S. in Engineering and then stay an extra year for the McIntire School’s M.S. in Commerce Program, as mentioned above. Students often ask about the relative advantages and disadvantages of the business minor or a double major versus the B.S. in Engineering and M.S. in Commerce. With the Engineering minor, students receive a sample of the Commerce prerequisites (which is good preparation for the undergraduate or graduate Commerce program) and develop a general understanding of introductory business topics. With a B.S. in Engineering, most graduates will enter an organization through the technical rather than business side of the firm. The B.S. or M.S. in Commerce allows graduates to enter the firm through the business side of the organization, and although these degrees may not bring a larger starting salary, they provide a stronger set of business skills for the long term.

If you are currently enrolled in the Engineering School, I encourage you to meet with someone in the Engineering School’s Undergraduate Programs Office and to visit McIntire for our walk-in hours for pre-Commerce students.

No single path is best; you need to decide what works for you. Good luck! Dean L

Course Registration Tips for First- and Second-Year UVA Students

Registration for spring courses is coming up very shortly, and many of you may be wondering about what courses you should be taking. You might be torn between two classes and worrying if one course will look better to the Admissions Committee than the other; but what if you are REALLY interested in the ‘other? Below are just a few suggestions we hope will help:

1. Stay on track with your area requirements. Completing courses in all these areas will benefit you no matter what your major and provides an excellent broad based educational foundation.

2. Take courses you are interested in or curious about; it’s okay to explore.

3. Challenge yourself but don’t go overboard; don’t enroll in a 4000-level course unless you have a solid base for the material that will be covered.

4. Plan ahead. As move forward in your academic career, so should your difficulty of courses. Once you are a second-year, your coursework should consist mainly of 2000-level courses.

5. Don’t overanalyze courses to look for “business-related” courses. Business is everywhere, whether you look for it or not. A politics course can be very valuable because politics influences business and vice versa. Sociology courses can help you develop critical thinking skills as well a deeper understanding of social environment – which has an impact on business. Just because “business” isn’t in the title doesn’t mean the course is not applicable to a business career.

6. Don’t worry too much about what will look better to the Admissions Committee. Take courses that interest you.

7. Choose courses that go along well with your area of interest: Marketing? Take some psychology or sociology courses or media studies courses. International? Take courses in foreign affairs, or continue in a foreign language or courses that emphasize global issues. Finance? Consider additional math or economics courses.

Finally, remember that College is your time to explore and broaden your perspective; take full advantage of this time and the opportunities before you. Below are some tips from Dean Leonard’s recent advising presentation that might help you further with course selection for spring.

Admissions Information – Academic Advice

Take full loads with challenging courses from various areas (e.g., quantitative, oral and written communication, ethics and moral reasoning, global perspective).

Stay on track to complete your area requirements in the College of Arts & Sciences, and explore possible majors in the College.

Spread the prerequisites out; don’t take more than two mini GPA courses in the same semester.

Get involved outside of the classroom.