Virtual Impressions: Bentley University (MA)
Bentley University would have been my fifth in-person visit in April. Bentley and Brandeis are practically neighbors in Waltham, Massachusetts. They’re both in Waltham, a well-to-do community about a half-hour by car from Boston. Mass transit or shared rides are the best ways for students to get from Bentley to the Hub City.
Here’s a few things that I learned about Bentley University as a virtual tourist.
Bentley University gets cross-shopped against business programs at Boston University and Northeastern as well as Babson. It has about twice as many undergrads as Babson, 4,300 total, and is less selective. Forty-three percent of the students who applied to join last year’s freshman class got in. Applying Early Decision really helps. Among those applied with Bentley University as their absolute first choice, sixty-nine percent were accepted.
Bentley students did a good job self-selecting the school. And the admissions office does a good job at crafting a class. The university’s four-year grad rates have been 83 percent or better for every freshman class from 2010 through 2015. Demonstrated interest is important in admissions. If you have an inkling that you might want to apply to Bentley, register for the virtual admissions events. Visit campus, too, when the opportunity arises. Learn about the programs. Ask good questions. Every little bit helps when it comes to showing interest.
The Bentley and Babson campuses have a similar look and feel. They’re both a blend of 19th century New England architectural style with tech modern interiors. Both have very nice gyms and student centers. They both have residence halls with spacious rooms. It seems easier to get into Boston from Bentley, and you walk right into a nice college downtown. Moody Street is to Bentley what Commonwealth Avenue is to Boston University, only less dangerous to cross. You can also trek from Bentley to Harvard Square. I don’t get the “this can be you” feeling that I got from “touring” Babson, a school that honors entrepreneurs. But I did feel that parents would trust Bentley to make their children feel safe, educated, and prepared for work.
Before doing research for this post, I had thought of Bentley University as “a business college,” much like Babson. I was not far off. Bentley has an undergraduate college and a graduate business school. You can earn a BS in 11 business programs or in Mathematical Science, Actuarial Science or Data Analytics. There are BA programs in 10 liberal arts majors. Everyone who chooses a non-business major must complete a Business minor or a second major in Business Studies. It helps to be strong in mathematics if you apply. The average SAT Math score for last year’s freshmen was a 680. Bentley is also aggressively recruiting women who are high-potential leaders, which is really nice to see.
Bentley might be the better school for the student who is interested in a business career, but might not want to be an entrepreneur. While Babson immerses freshman in a start-up experience, Bentley’s first-year program is more similar to a liberal arts college. Listening to videos, I felt that Bentley students were bright. But They appeared to be less likely to talk about business outside of classes and homework. That impression was reinforced when I read one student’s comments on how Bentley schedules classes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; a true entrepreneur thinks about business 24-7. But a great executive will not only need to be bright, s/he will also need experiences and social skills. Bentley helps with both.
When it comes to career development Bentley means business. Career services are as extensive as you will find at larger universities that have a business school. Bentley students must compete against peers from Boston University and Northeastern for internships and summer jobs, so the help is much appreciated.. Over 31,000 Boston area alumni who can also help are registered in LinkedIn.com. This school also has large alumni communities in New York, Hartford, San Francisco and Providence.
Bentley is more serious about sports than most of the Boston area colleges. Boston College is the only other school in the metro area that plays varsity scholarship football. The Bentley Falcons compete at the NCAA D-2 level in 20 varsity sports, and are D-1 in Men’s Hockey. Last season that team averaged 1,300 fans per home, 48th in the sport, according to US College Hockey Online. That might not seem impressive. But Bentley is also one of the smallest schools that competes at the D-1 level.
With a total cost of attendance over $74,000, the Bentley experience is quite expensive. Nearly 60 percent of the students who graduated in 2018 took out loans. Their debt averaged over $31,000. That’s more than the maximum that they could borrow under the Federal Student Loan Program. Aside from athletic scholarships, the average merit-based award does not come close to covering half the tuition and fees.
Bentley University is a great option for those who are sure about business, but don’t want to go to a large school for their education. The university appears to deliver on its promises, as long as you do the work. That’s a lot to say about a small university, especially one that competes against Boston-area schools that have better name recognition.
Listen to my talk, What Exactly Is a Good College? hosted by test-prep experts Amy Seeley and Mike Bergin on Tests And The Rest!
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