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Lifestyles of an AEO-to-HBA student

  • Communications
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  • Nov 25, 2014
Lifestyles of an AEO-to-HBA student

Chris Pandza studies the arts, photography, and many other forms of media. He’s also an HBA 2016 candidate.

He is not the typical Ivey HBA student, because there is no such thing as a typical Ivey HBA student.

Because the business administration focus of the program starts in year three, students get an outside perspective from the start.  Add on dual degree options, electives, certificates, and student clubs, and it seems there really is no one way to complete an HBA degree.

A key part of cultivating a diverse group like the HBA Class of 2016 is the Advanced Entry Opportunity (AEO) offered through Western. When students apply from high school to any program at Western, they have an option to do a supplementary application for AEO status.

Through AEO, high school students can showcase their combination of excellent grades and outstanding extracurricular commitments to get pre-admission to the Ivey HBA program.  If they are able to maintain their performance during the first two years of undergraduate, in the program of their choice, they start their HBA programming in year three.

“The 2+2 program gives people a chance to focus,” explained Pandza, who is now in his first year of the HBA portion of his degree. “Potential business students think they need to study business for four years, but it’s designed so that you really get everything you need out of the 2 years.”

For students like Pandza, the structure creates an opportunity to explore another area of passion while keeping the door to business open. AEO students begin their first year of university in one of Western’s many undergraduate programs with one required second-year business course. If they’re interested in pursuing both programs, they can do a dual-degree in five or six years, depending on the other program’s demands.

“I came to school not sure what I was doing,” he said. “I picked the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) because I was interested in media and culture, but AEO gave me the option to pursue business later. Ivey was something that I applied to just to have the option, in case I was interested down the road.”

Starting out in FIMS and loving the program inspired Pandza to get involved, separate from his need to maintain AEO status. He became the first-year representative on the FIMS Students’ Council, as well as becoming involved in a number of clubs both inside and outside of the faculty, such as the Pre-Business Students Network, Science Council, and FIMS Street Team.

“I never pursued things outside the classroom just to fulfill my requirements. I was really involved because I wanted to be,” he said. “I think [maintaining AEO] can be a good incentive for extracurriculars, but the people who really want to go Ivey tend to want to be involved anyway.”

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While exploring courses in his first two years, Pandza was able to take some electives in visual arts and art history, which introduced him to the idea of pursuing a career in the arts. He also was able to take the first year Introduction to Business course, Business 1220, at Western, the course which inspired him to take up that AEO status and enter the HBA program.

“The case method was new and really effective – I still remember everything I learned in 1220,” he said. “When I was doing a third-year HBA exam, I was still pulling things out I was remembering from 1220.”

Going forward, Pandza is planning to take the dual-degree option and complete his Media, Information, and Technoculture degree alongside his HBA over five years. The two programs are very different in their approaches and course content, so he’s looking forward to engaging in both perspectives, an opportunity brought about in part because of Ivey’s AEO option.