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Exploring the Liberal Arts

First-year students have many choices available to them—from a broad network of advising resources to new curricular options.

College-Advising Seminars

First-year students have the option of taking a voluntary, college-advising seminar, or COLA. These popular one-credit seminars are open to first-year students in the College and aim to foster productive, long-lasting advising experiences with their COLA instructors (who serve as their academic advisor until the students select a major). COLA classes are limited to 18 students to facilitate lively seminar discussions. First-years may select COLAs covering a wide range of course topics from across the arts and humanities as well as the sciences and social sciences. About 20 percent of the weekly class time is reserved for group advising topics, such as navigating the add/drop process for classes, exploring majors, and the summer internship and employment resources available at the University Career Center, study abroad opportunities, and more. More information on the 80-plus COLAs being offered is available at

Liberal Arts Seminars

Another College program, the Liberal Arts Seminars (LASE), helps students understand how to transfer the value of their liberal arts educations into lives of professional success. For instance, the “Liberal Arts and the World of Work” seminar for first- and second-year students features guest lectures by some of the University’s most distinguished faculty, as well as accomplished alumni invited to offer students their perspective on how their liberal arts educations prepared them for their careers. Additionally, the Exploring the Liberal Arts (ELA) classes include course materials on study skills, leadership, and professional and strategic career development. For more information on LASE and ELA classes, see

Curricular Options

For the past two academic years, first-year students have had three curricular options to choose from: the New College Curriculum, the Forums Curriculum, and the Traditional Curriculum. The New College Curriculum is the College’s 21st-century approach to liberal arts and sciences education, focusing on an innovative new first-year student experience taught by the College Fellows, some of UVA’s leading faculty scholars. The Forums — tailored groups of courses organized around a central topic — provide students with the opportunity to have a themed general education experience across academic disciplines. The Traditional Curriculum is the College’s long-established curriculum, exploring the liberal arts and sciences across seven distinct academic areas. More information about all three curricular options can be found at

Community Connections

In addition, students have the opportunity to take Pavilion Seminars as well as Civic and Community Engagement Classes. Aimed at third- and fourth-year students, Pavilion Seminars are intended to bring together, in the context of the Lawn’s Pavilions, a limited number of students from varied majors and intellectual backgrounds for stimulating discussion of vital questions of ethics, human nature, politics, aesthetics, nature, law, space, and survival. All Pavilion Seminars have a substantial writing component and will satisfy the Second Writing Requirement. Civic and Community Engagement Courses are yearlong and are intended to connect academics with experiential learning in the local Charlottesville area. To learn more, please see and