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NOV 16, 2020 • 6 min read
Pursuing a career in the business field is an ambitious and oftentimes, long road that takes drive, commitment, and passion. We often meet students with ideas and dreams of entrepreneurship; the flexibility, creativity, and independence involved in the business realm is one that attracts many students, but it’s not uncommon for students to be unaware of all of the different options available in the business world.
While the decision to pursue business can be an easy one, navigating the path can prove trying. There are many things to consider. What schools have the best business programs? What should I do to prepare for a business track? Should I apply for a business program? Or should I pursue something less popular?
Which Path is Right for Me?
To answer the first question, one important thing to remember is the “best business school in the world” may not be the best school for you. Consider factors like the size of the school, the location of the campus, the culture and social life on campus, the quality of the school’s pre-med advising, and most importantly: does that campus feel like the best fit? Consider the “big fish in a small pond” versus “small fish in a big pond” mentality. Just because a student is the valedictorian and received straight As in high school does not mean that they’ll perform as strongly in college. Being in a class of thousands of students may not be your ideal environment.
For example, NYU - New York University, a big pond example, has around 51,000 students with around 2,600 of that number being undergraduate business majors. NYU has a student to faculty ratio of approximately 9:1.
William & Mary, a small pond example, has around 8,600 students; while the school has an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, 87% of William & Mary's classes have fewer than 40 students, and more than half have fewer than 20 students.
If accessibility to professors, relationships with your cohort, and the ability to ask questions and get hands-on experience is a priority for you, consider “small pond” schools!
How to Prepare
The next thing students consider when preparing for a business track is which focus interests them most. Whether it’s Accounting, International Business, Finance, Management, Marketing, Economics, or something else, students have the opportunity to start small and study one of these areas before moving onto a larger business program as a postgraduate student.
The three major things to focus on when preparing for applications are: exemplify your interest and commitment to the business field, don’t underestimate the importance of standardized testing, and finally, make sure you perfect your application!
In order to show admissions officers your commitment to business, it is important to show your interest through strong grades and an extracurricular profile that demonstrates proven interest in business. Whether you’re the founder of your own non-profit, a community leader for FBLA, or leading your school’s student government association, find and stick to what interests you most. If your school offers AP or IB classes, focus on taking as many business-related courses as you can handle; think economics, management, entrepreneurship, mathematics, civics, social justice, computer science, etc. It is important to maintain high grades in these courses, so don’t take too many that you become overwhelmed and your grades suffer.
Secondly, while many schools are dropping their requirements for standardized tests (learn more here), it is still a good idea to take these exams if you are able to. First, you never know how you’ll do! If you score well, it is an enhancement to your application if you will be applying in the next two years. Second, impressive SAT and ACT scores may actually help you land a scholarship! Consider this situation: Two students who are considered equally competitive applicants apply to a university. If one student has submitted a strong SAT/ACT score, and one student hasn’t submitted one, it’s likely that the student who submitted a score will be considered a safer choice for the university. We recommend for students to still take these exams as it benefits the quality of applications greatly to prove you are able to handle the rigor of higher-level quantitative courses.
Whether you’re interested in becoming a financial advisor, restaurateur, real estate mogul, or economist, make sure to spend a good deal of time researching the right path (school, time frame, focus, etc.) for you!
Shannon completed her Bachelors at Franklin University Switzerland where she majored in Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies & minored in Social Justice and Sustainability. Shannon has a passion for learning new languages, environmental and social justice, and immersing herself in new cultures. Shannon has worked in higher education and now works as an Education Coordinator with Crimson. Shannon currently lives in Southern California and enjoys reading, water polo, yoga, and traveling.