The Business of Choosing Undergraduate Business Programs
For the past six years I have worked with high school students who considered various undergraduate business programs. There are many very good ones. But don’t rely too much on rankings. They fluctuate wildly from year to year. But what should you rely on to consider undergraduate business programs?
Undergraduate business programs at large and mid sized schools offer different options for admissions.
Some will admit freshmen immediately and let them sink or swim. Others will admit freshmen to a pre-business track. Then they admit them to the business school as juniors, provided that they maintained a minimum GPA or better in the required courses. Some schools offer both options. But they make the transfer process a greater academic challenge for those who want to switch to the business school.
If you are serious about business and want to choose a college with a business school, begin your education in the business school.
It’s easier for a college sophomore or junior to pull out of an undergraduate business program than it is to get in. Some majors within an undergraduate business program might become “capped.” The demand for the major might be greater than the number of classes that can be offered.
Students who fear math will find undergraduate business programs exceptionally difficult.
Calculus is rarely used within the business world. But successful professionals in areas such as accounting, finance, human resource management and marketing are comfortable interpreting numbers and explaining trends derived from them.
Hope to seek a good-paying internship?
Seek a school with a strong alumni base in a city where your student hopes to work and possibly reside after graduation. Some colleges such as Cornell, Indiana, Penn State or Purdue are quite isolated. But there are alumni working all over the world. The upside? Students may have fantastic summer internship experiences. Downside? They cannot work in these internships during the school year nor can they always leave campus for interviews. Another option is co-op, where students alternate between school and work for two or three years of their college degree.
Do you need to go through undergraduate business programs to have a business career?
If you want to be an accountant, yes. The coursework required to sit for the CPA exam is more stringent than it is for any other business discipline. If you want to work in management information systems, it helps to know the programming languages used in modern businesses and consulting firms as well as the business core courses. If you want to be in a profession such as quantitative finance that uses an industry-specific software package, it helps to get training and practice in that package while in college.
Liberal arts majors can succeed in business, if they acquire the right skills to complement their major.
An economics major with strong skills in math and statistics can find work in finance as easily as a finance major. A communications or psychology major with similar mathematical skills can work successfully in marketing or advertising. For most college students a liberal arts major combined with core courses in accounting, economics and statistics will be fine.
Try different occupations while in college through part-time work, community service or internships to find the best fit. Academic achievements are certainly a plus, But businesses seek ambitious and motivated people who try to learn their world outside of the classroom.
Need help to choose a business program or consider a business major vs. another major? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 609-406-0062.
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Listen to my talk, College Is A Learning AND Living Community, hosted by Dr. Cynthia Colon from Destination YOUniversity on Voice of America Radio!
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