Common Application Misconceptions

As we shift into application mode, the Admissions team is addressing some of the top misconceptions we hear in advising appointments. As you prepare to apply to the Batten School, be sure to avoid these common traps–and don’t take yourself out of the running unnecessarily!


General Questions

  1. I know I want to make a difference but I don’t know if there is just one thing I am interested in. Do I need to have a particular policy area of focus or concentration to have a strong application?
    • No! Many applicants, particularly those applying for our BA or minor, don’t quite know what they want to study, or have a wide range of policy interests (#PolicyIsEverywhere)! Showcase all of your interests through your coursework, activities, and even your essays. We do not need a full research paper on why a certain policy topic is important; rather, we want to hear why particular policy areas are meaningful to you.
  2. I have not quite decided on a major and want to maximize my options. Can I apply to multiple majors and schools without penalty?
    • Absolutely! We understand that you are weighing a number of different academic paths. However, we do hope you take the opportunity to showcase your particular interest in public policy on your application and highlight who you are as an individual with a propensity to create impact. If you are applying to other programs and need additional time before accepting your admissions offer, please contact us.
  3. I don’t want to work on Capitol Hill. Is Batten still a good fit?
    • Our programs prepare students for a wide variety of policy-oriented careers in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Visit our Career Services page for more information on employment outcomes.


Academic Questions

  1. If I have not taken the prerequisite courses by the time of application, am I still eligible to apply?
    • YES! Students must earn a C or higher in each of the prerequisites for Batten before beginning their program in the fall, so they may be taken during the semester you apply or even over the summer (though BA applicants, please note - Intro to Policy is NOT offered in the summer). Keep in mind, however, that your performance in prerequisite courses is an important data point in our evaluation, so if you haven’t yet completed a course be sure to amplify other dimensions of your candidacy to fill the gap!
  2. There are a minimum number of credits needed to apply to Batten (60 for undergraduate programs and 90 for the graduate program). How do I figure out how many credits I have?
    • We ask about the total number of credits you expect to have earned by the fall you begin at Batten to ensure you are on track with UVA’s requirement of at least 120 credits by graduation. When calculating your credits, be sure to include all accepted transfer credits from high school or other institutions, all UVA credits you have completed, and any credits from spring and summer courses not officially earned yet. Your unofficial transcript from SIS will show all of these credits.
  3. I had a different academic plan when I came to UVA (pre-med, pre-business, engineering, etc.) and recently decided Batten may be a good fit for me. Am I too late to be a strong applicant?
    • NO! We encourage students to explore broadly in their first years at the University, so finding Batten “late” is not a disadvantage. We do not expect candidates to have completed any Batten coursework (outside of prereqs) or completed policy-specific internships or volunteering. If you have had a change in your academic and extracurricular path in your second or third year, be sure to tell us about your passion for policy and leadership in your essays and consider using your addendum to outline the reason for this change in direction.
  4. If I get into Batten, do I have to finish my College general education requirements?
    • Yes - Batten’s gen ed requirements are the same as the College of Arts and Sciences. Some of Batten’s coursework counts toward these requirements, but we encourage students to complete many of them before applying, particularly foreign language, since some courses are harder to enroll in from outside the College.


Extracurricular Questions

  1. How should I best align my extracurriculars to be a strong applicant? 
    • Batten students have wide and varied interests! We don’t necessarily expect to see policy alignment in your activities, like having a State Department internship or serving in an elected role within College Republicans or Young Democrats. Our particular focus is on your motivation, and the quality (not quantity) of your engagements outside the classroom, whether that is working multiple part-time jobs, volunteering with Madison House, or playing on the club Quidditch team. The combination of activities are nearly endless and we want to see what makes you unique!