Hitting the Ground Running

Congratulations on your decision to join the Cavalier community! The University of Virginia is home to a number of amazing academic and extracurricular opportunities, and it can be overwhelming figuring out where to start. As summer orientation gets underway and you begin to prepare in earnest for your transition to college, the Batten Admissions team is offering advice on how to make the most of your first–and every!–semester at UVA.



With the entire UVA course catalog open to you, there is an endless combination of classes you can take. We encourage students to explore disciplines broadly in their first two years. Have you always been curious about understanding societies and how they function? Try a sociology course! Curious about evolving gender and sexual dynamics? Consider a women and gender studies class! Always wish you knew how to code? Try your hand at it in a computer science course! You never know what will click for you until you try it, so use your general education requirements–and UVA’s strong foundation in the liberal arts– to push boundaries and explore new fields and subjects. Get to know your TAs and professors in your first semester; not only are they great resources as you explore different programs and opportunities, they will also be excellent academic mentors over your next four years. Other resources to consult are your orientation leader and association dean, so don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations! 

While you are exploring your academic interests, be sure to knock out the prerequisite courses for any majors or minors that speak to you. Luckily, Batten has only a small handful of requirements, and they are common prerequisites for other programs and most fulfill general education requirements. Students interested in our Accelerated MPP program must take microeconomics (ECON 2010) and a calculus-based math, while students interested in our undergraduate programs must take microeconomics (ECON 2010), social psychology (PSYC 2600 or LPPL 2600), and LPPP 2200: Introduction to Public Policy (BA program only). Finally, if you are looking at the Social Entrepreneurship minor, be sure to enroll in ENTP 1010: Start-ups.

If you are undecided on a major (which is perfectly reasonable at this point in your college career!), consider trying out a Batten class to see if it could be a good fit. Great introductory options include LPPL 2100: The Resilient Student: Transition, Thriving, and Leadership, an excellent course to help you transition to college, and LPPP 2000: Batten Showcase: A Collection of Lectures on Leadership and Public Policy, a one-credit course designed to introduce you to the Batten School and contemporary issues of policy. 



While academics are a critical piece of your college experience, take time to explore outside the classroom too! The Student Engagement team has amazing tips for getting involved and finding community at UVA and in Charlottesville. Their website lists all the CIOs and leadership opportunities you can start exploring as early as the Activity Fair in August. Additionally, you can check out resources and opportunities from UVA Public Service if you want to start or continue your journey in community service or activism. For example, organizations like Madison House or the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center are great spots for volunteering and service. 

We recommend that you get involved in things that interest you or which you are passionate about, not necessarily what you think an admissions office wants to see. Whether you join club soccer, a debate team, or lead the social committee of the coloring club, find opportunities to challenge yourself mentally, physically, socially, or personally. Although leadership is an important component of our application evaluation, there is no expectation that you will immediately take on leadership roles on Grounds; take your time to grow the breadth and depth of your involvement through volunteering, student organizations, internships, research, jobs, and more!



There are a number of academic resources at UVA to help you thrive and grow as a student. Association deans provide academic advising and can point you towards additional support where needed. Consider consulting the Writing Center to help structure and revise your writing assignments. The libraries on Grounds provide a number of additional services, including data management and resource navigation. 

As you make connections between what you are studying and internships or employment, consider utilizing the UVA Career Center. Whether it's figuring out what you really want to do, choosing your major, gaining work experience, or prepping for that first interview, there are a number of ways to connect with this office, including drop-ins in 15|15 and Clemons Library, in-person and virtual appointments, and different newsletters you can sign up for–including the Public Service and Government newsletter for students interested in Batten! 

Finally, be sure to utilize resources and centers which support different facets of your student identity, including resources for first-generation college students, the Office of African and African American Affairs, the Multicultural Student Center (MSC), the Latinx Student Center, the LGBTQ Center, and the Interfaith Student Center (IFSC)!



A frequent question from incoming students is “What is Batten and what can I do now to get involved?” The Batten School is one of twelve schools at UVA and just one way to study public policy (other options include PPL, PST, and majors in the Politics department). Our programs have an interdisciplinary focus that integrates multiple lenses and perspectives—from the economic and political to the psychological and cultural—to equip you with practical skills to lead the world towards positive, lasting change. If you are interested in becoming an ethical and enlightened leader prepared to make a difference in your community, your profession, and the world at large, we encourage you to check out some of our signature events and resources! 

As part of summer orientation, we hosted a virtual pre-Batten Advising session on Wednesday, June 29 at 6:30 PM ET with Anne Carter Mulligan, Director of Undergraduate Admissions, and Amanda Crombie, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs. This Wednesday Webinar introduces you to the School and classes that you can enroll in this academic year! Each summer orientation session will also feature a Batten information session, so be sure to check the Orientation and New Student Programs website for the latest.

Additionally, the Batten Admissions team hosts information sessions, virtual appointments, and open office hours during the regular academic year. This fall, there will be chances to connect with Batten Ambassadors (current Batten students) during events like Chattin’ with Batten and Frank-a-palooza, so keep an eye on our schedule once the semester gets underway! Finally, our office is always here to help - don’t hesitate to send us an email or make an appointment if you have any questions.