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February 6, 2023
With myriad majors and courses to choose from, the possibilities of a college education are limitless. But these programs don't exist on islands all on their own.
Oftentimes, you'll find similar majors grouped together in colleges or schools within a larger university — like a school of medicine, or a college of art and design, or a school of business. On this episode of College Admissions Insider, we're talking all about that last type: a school of business or management.
We'll cover different educational approaches of various business or management schools; how students interested in pursuing careers in business can get a sense of what majors appeal to them; what high schoolers can do right now to get a head start, and more.
Our guests are Melissa Intindola, associate professor of management and organizations, and James Lawson, assistant professor of accounting.
If you have a question, comment or idea for a future episode, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[00:00:07] BT: With myriad majors and courses to choose from, the possibilities of a college education are limitless. Whether you're interested in the sciences, humanities, engineering or something else entirely. But these programs don't exist on islands all on their own. Oftentimes, you'll find similar majors grouped together in colleges or schools within a larger university — like a school of medicine, or a college of art and design, or a school of business.
I'm Brooke Thames from Bucknell University, and on this episode of College Admissions Insider, we're talking all about that last type — a school of business. Or in Bucknell's case, a College of Management. We'll cover different educational approaches of various business or management schools; how students interested in pursuing careers in business can get a sense of what majors appeal to them; what high schoolers can do right now to get a head start, and more.
Joining me are two faculty members from Bucknell's own Freeman College of Management: Melissa Intindola, associate professor of management and organizations; and James Lawson, assistant professor of accounting.
Welcome to the podcast.
[00:01:12] MI: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
[00:01:15] JL: Yeah, it's great to be here, Brooke. Thank you very much for the opportunity.
[00:01:18] JL: Yeah, I'm super excited to talk to you both about this topic. And so, before we jump in, can we hear a little bit more about each of you and your work at Bucknell? Melissa, let's start with you.
[00:01:28] MI: Sure. I'm actually in my second year at Bucknell. I was at a more of a traditional business school, which I'll talk a little bit about later. And so, I teach Management 101, our sort of hallmark management course. And I also teach stakeholder management, and which is an upper-level junior and senior level course.
[00:01:52] JL: My name is James Lawson. I'm an assistant professor of accounting. I teach the introductory accounting classes that every student in the Freeman College has to take. And then I also teach the upper-level tax classes, which some people say are more fun than they thought they would be. I like doing both, the intro and the upper-level classes. I've been at Bucknell for about three years now.
[00:02:16] BT: Yeah, that's fantastic. Like I said, we're so excited to have you here. And so, jumping into our discussion today, let's start by making a distinction that might not be super obvious. At Bucknell, we have what is named the Freeman College of Management. And there's a reason why we use the word “management” over “business.” And so, why is that? And what does that mean?
[00:02:37] MI: I think the designation for Bucknell is really that we focus on a holistic approach to our students and to what it means to be part of an industry or of a sector, regardless of that sector. So it's not a focused on making money for money's sake, but really a tri-sector model. So we will discuss the nonprofit sector, and the for-profit sector, and the public sector or government sector.
We really have, in my opinion, more of a focus on doing good for the communities that we're in. And, really, in a deeper level, I think we try to craft some perspective in our students so that they consider the role of business and society and really what the responsibility of business is.
[00:03:27] BT: Yeah, that sounds like a really holistic approach to management or business. And in the spirit of that kind of well-roundedness, I would imagine that the liberal art – And in the spirit of that well-roundedness, I imagine that the liberal arts has an impact. Bucknell, of course, is a liberal arts institution. And so how does that focus influence the way that you as faculty approach management education?
[00:03:52] JL: Yeah, sure. I'd like to answer that. I'll talk a little bit about my classes first, and then talk about kind of other faculty and how they approach it throughout the college here at Bucknell.
For me, the liberal arts focus dictates not just the type of material that we cover in class but, really, how we approach it. So for example, I said I teach the tax classes. Many college students, they haven't filed their taxes yet. A few have worked, but not many. But in a few years, they're going to graduate from Bucknell or from another college. They're going to start working a job and they're going to start paying taxes. And so in my tax class, we learn the technical details of personal income tax in the United States.
We'll take one aspect — there's something called the child tax credit — and this relates to a tax credit, money that you receive based on the number of children you get. The amount of money you receive depends on the number of children you have and a few other factors like your family income level. In our class, I don't just cover the technical details about the exact amounts. I also say to the students, and I ask them, "What does this mean for society? Why does Congress enact this child tax credit? What role does this have in kind of the big picture?"
So it really is this combination of the technical details. The how to do it…How do we calculate taxes? How do we look at this? Also, with the why…What does this do for you as an individual? What does it do for the broader community and society?
And in fact, some people are surprised to hear it, but in my tax classes — I teach a personal tax and a corporate tax class — I assign essays. The students have to write essays in both of those classes, and I think that kind of demonstrates the liberal arts focus. When you write an essay, it really shows that you understand the material. It's not just a multiple-choice question on an exam. It really forces you to use your critical thinking skills, and that's part of what the liberal arts education is really about.
And of course, it's not just my classes. Every faculty member here at the Freeman College really believes in the liberal arts focus. And I think one word to kind of summarize it is this idea of “integration.” A lot of colleges say, "Oh, you come to our college and you'll get a liberal arts education." Well, I've been at big state schools before, and what they mean when they say “liberal arts” is that you take some English classes, some history classes and then you take your business classes. And they're two separate streams. Here at the Freeman College, within every class you take, you have this liberal arts focus of developing critical thinking, leadership, communications and some just really other soft skills that'll really help students in the future.
[00:06:52] BT: Yeah, James, I love those examples of how that liberal arts intention helped shape the way that you help students get a broader perspective on what they're learning in class.
And so, Melissa, are there any other ways that students across disciplines in a management education, either at Bucknell or elsewhere, are experiencing that liberal arts perspective in that education?
[00:07:13] MI: Yes. I would say there are two main areas from an academic perspective where students really get access to the broad breadth of integration as James mentioned.
I would say that the first is that they will almost always be taking classes with folks from different majors. When we talk about Management 101 for example, you are in a classroom with students who come from all majors — not just within the Freeman College but outside of the Freeman College as well. We'll see political science students in that class and psychology majors in that course. We will see mechanical engineers come through that class. So, it really helps you get a different perspective when you're not just sitting in a room with people who think this the same as you, or who are going through the same educational process as you are.
And I would say the other really cool area that our undergraduates get, that I haven't seen to this extent at any other university that I've been a part of, is the undergraduate research opportunities. For example, I'm working with a student right now who's actually an economics major, but we have a common research interest, and we are working together. And I've been able to work with students from computer science and students from psychology. And so, I think that one of the really special things about Bucknell, and one of the ways that all of our students get that integration, but that our management students get it, is that they can go work with faculty in other disciplines on issues that are important to them and get the benefit of understanding that many of the problems that we investigate are cross-disciplinary.
[00:08:55] BT: Yeah, I think that is a really interesting look at the ways in which connections are being made across disciplines with students and faculty who are in the management college.
And so we have a snapshot of what a management education might look like at a liberal arts school like Bucknell. But when comparing the educational approach at colleges like Freeman to more traditional business schools, what makes other B-schools perhaps a little bit different?
[00:09:20] MI: I will answer that as somebody who has an education that is very traditional B-school — undergrad and MBA — and that who, previous to this position, was teaching at a very traditional B-school.
I would say that the biggest difference lies in something that I spoke about at the beginning, which is this sort of, at its core, questioning about the role of business and society. So to James's point, in discussing the child tax credit, right? In a traditional B-school, that would be taught as, “Here's a deduction that you need to know exists because you're an accountant. Here's how you use that deduction.” But there's no broader discussion of policy behind that discussion. Be it, for better or for worse, what that means for the bigger tax structure and the economic structure of our society, right? There's no discussion of any of that in the B-schools that I've been a part of previously.
And I think, in the same way, we don't talk about the nonprofit sector in traditional business schools. We don't talk about the public sector in the same way in traditional business schools. Coming from a very traditional B-school background in school, it would be considered odd to show my students what it meant to work in a non-profit sector, in a public sector, right? And that's something that I'm very much able to do here, to expose them to those three sectors.
The other thing is we don't talk about sort of the dark side of business, right? I think that's something at Bucknell that, in our classes, we always have an eye towards the amazing things that business can do, and the way that business can help communities. But we are also paying attention to the negative externalities that can sometimes exist when business is in a community.
For example, when I teach a human resources class and I talk about the minimum wage, I teach what the minimum wage is. I teach the history of the minimum wage. But then the liberal arts setting allows us to have a bigger conversation surrounding, "Well, what is a living wage? How does that compare to the minimum wage? What are the arguments economically for one or the other of those? What are the arguments socially for one or the other of those? From a public policy perspective, what does it mean to enact certain policies one way or another?" And those are conversations that are not happening at more traditional business schools in the experience that I have had.
[00:11:56] BT: It sounds like in going through the college search and determining what kind of school a student might want to attend, it sounds like it's pretty important for a student to kind of consider what they want to get out of their education. What kinds of things they're looking to learn?
[00:12:10] MI: Yeah, absolutely. I guess, from my perspective, having seen both, it's not that one is better than the other. It truly is what resonates with the student, what their goals are and sort of where they're coming from, right?
But, for example, the school that I was at previously, the students there were really in a place where a traditional B-school made sense for them because they were looking to go enact very practical skills, which I think is something that James makes reference to later, right? They were looking for a skill set to apply. In many cases, they might have been first-generation college students or students taking over family businesses, so there was already a business sort of entrenched in their lives. And they were really focused on, “How do I go out and just apply this skill set, right? I plug it in, and I go into a career?”
And I feel like, having been at Bucknell now for a couple of years, it truly is more of that sort of philosophy model of business, right? It's more like, “I'm thinking about business, and what business really means in the broader scheme of things, and what it means to be in a college of management.” And those are conversations that the faculty are having all the time, too, right? What do we as a faculty in a College of Management want our core mission, vision, values to be? And how does that compare to a more traditional business school setting?
It's not that one is better than the other. I think sometimes the traditional business school setting for a particular subset of students is actually better. If you want to be an accountant and you are not necessarily interested in pondering why the child tax credit exists, then by all means, go to a traditional business school and learn that it does exist and learn how to use it, right?
[00:14:13] BT: Yeah, what I'm hearing is that it really comes down to the individual student, and their motivations, and their goals. And so speaking of that student, let's talk about the high schooler who thinks they want a career in management or business. What's the first question they should be asking themselves when considering how to approach that college education?
[00:14:32] JL: Yes, that's a good question. Before getting into an answer, I think it's great for you as a high school student thinking, "I want to go into business. Maybe I'm not exactly sure what area yet. But I know this is something I'm interested in." I think it's great that you already have an idea of what you want to do.
But I'd also say, even maybe for some of you listening, where you're kind of on the fence and you're not sure…You think, "Okay, I don't have any experience. Maybe my parents, or my other family, or my friend's parents, none of them are in business. I don't really know what it's like.” Well, the good news is that you don't have to know exactly what you want to do when you graduate high school. And one of the perks of a business or a management degree is that it really, really, really opens up doors. It gives you a lot of options. And we'll talk about that a little bit later. I'll give some more examples.
But as a high school student, maybe you love business and you have some specific ideas —that's great. Maybe you're not sure yet, and you say, "I know I want to go, I want to learn and then I want to get a job." That's just as good for where you are right now.
Kind of with that background out of the way, when you're thinking about, "Okay, what question should I be asking?" The first one I would ask is, “What specific majors does this college offer?” Even within the field of management or business, there's a wide range of actual majors. Here at the Freeman College, we have about seven different majors. And at other business schools, some have even more than that. These could be very highly technical majors, something like accounting or analytics. Or they could be more broad-ranging, something like managing for sustainability. And so, the first question is what type of major could I leave this college with?
And then, relatedly, the next question, and this might even be the most important question you can ask: “What are the current graduates doing once they leave this university?” You go to school. You pay a lot of money for four years. What's next? And if you look at the recent graduates and say, "Okay, what type of fields are they going into? Is that something that I'm interested in?" That's a great indicator of whether this college could be a good fit for you.
And so many colleges have some form of career coach. And if you reach out to that career coach and say, "Could you put me in contact with some of your recent graduates?" or even, "Give me a list of where your recent graduates have gone on following graduation,” they'd be glad to do that. And that will give you a really, really good look at what that college could do for you.
And then, finally — and this relates to the idea of kind of what do you want to major in — what skills do you want to develop during your college career? And that runs a gamut. It's, again, all these technical skills that are really important. But it's also all these kind of higher-order critical thinking [and] interpersonal skills, that when you get in the job market — and more importantly, when you're 10 years out from your college graduation date — those interpersonal soft skills, critical thinking, that's what's going to really help you as well. And so think, “What skills do I want to develop? Does this college have a program where I can develop some of those skills?”
[00:18:08] BT: Yeah, I think those are all really great questions for our listeners, James. And I love what you mentioned there about majors and the fact that there are a lot of diverse majors that can exist within a singular management or business college or school. And so, let's dive a little bit more into all of those options. I wonder, are there any kind of general category categories we can draw around business or management majors? For example, do accounting and finance maybe have some more common threads on one end? While global management and management for organizations might be more aligned on another end?
[00:18:44] MI: I think that's a fair point to make, right? In other words, I tend to think of accounting and financial management as more of like the quantitatively oriented majors. Whereas I might think of markets, innovation & design, as being the more creative. And then I think of management and organizations as being sort of more general, right? And then I think of analytics & operations as fitting into that more quantitative pool, but with just a little bit of a different focus area.
I think that's fair to say. However, I would also say that I think it's really important that all of our majors need an understanding of all basic business functions. And that's why we have the Freeman core. And so a piece of advice that I would actually give to all students thinking about attending college and business school is pay attention to two things, or ask two types of questions.
First, pay attention to what's offered in that core because that is what that particular college of management, school of business, has decided it is most important for you to know, right? As an incoming student, just trying to sort of find your footing in that first couple of years, that core indicates what they feel is important as an institution. That's No. 1. What is listed in that core? Are there things that are missing?
And No. 2, how inner disciplinary is that core, right? Is it that those folks are really siloed? Do you see opportunities to work with…Perhaps, if you're an accounting student or a finance student — are there opportunities for you to work with managing for sustainability majors? If you're a markets, innovation & design student, are there opportunities for you to work with folks in data analytics? I think that's an important question to ask.
Just make sure that you're getting the core and pay attention to what's in that core. But then also try to find out as best you can through the marketing materials, or through conversations with admissions or advisors, how are there opportunities to work across those silos? Because, ultimately, you want to remember that the business as itself is an entity that needs all the functions, right? No matter what kind of job you do. If you're in accounting, you're still going to have to talk to people. If you're in a traditional management role, you're going to have to be able to read and understand data when it's given to you. You will need all of those skill sets.
[00:21:43] BT: Yeah, regardless of what particular subject you major in, you're definitely going to cross paths in the professional world with people not only of different expertise within management or business but just in general across disciplines.
And so how do you suggest that prospective students gain a sense of what's included in that core that Melissa mentioned? Or also the different majors and how those majors might align with their interests?
[00:22:09] JL: Yeah. I mentioned before that most universities have a dedicated career coach. And as a high school junior or high school senior, you can reach out to these career coaches and they'll be able to tell you, "Here's what the core classes you'll take at our university is." And that's a great way.
And then kind of just moving bigger, kind of looking at the bigger picture, you really want to be asking, "How do these majors, how do these classes, fit in with my interest? How do I know, right? I think I know, or maybe I have no idea. How do I know what this is really about?"
And so another way is that many fields within management have professional organizations. For example, I'm in accounting, and the professional organization of accountants is called the AICPA, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Well, the AICPA produces tons of information for high schoolers about what it's like to work as an accountant. It gives you an idea of the different fields, the different types of industries you might go into. And it also talks about what the job is like. What are the day-to-day experiences? What are the skill sets? What are you actually doing?
And it's not just accounting; virtually every field and management has a professional organization that puts out information so that you as an interested high school student or early-level college student can say, "Okay, what is this job actually like? Do I think I would really enjoy doing that for the next 5, 10 or maybe even 30 years?"
[00:23:47] BT: And so switching gears a little bit, one major characteristic of colleges and universities that we talk a lot about on this podcast is school size. How might the experience as a management or business major differ at a small school versus a larger one?
[00:24:08] MI: I think it's fair to say that, at smaller schools, you will benefit from smaller class sizes, which offer room for more experiential learning situations, more discussion-based learning. You'll also have the opportunity to make more one-on-one connections with your peers and your professors. Larger business schools may have larger class sizes, which ultimately leave less room for making those personal connections and can make it more difficult for you to differentiate yourself among your classmates.
[00:24:42] BT: Yeah, that size and how many students you're interacting with, and even the time that you get to work one-on-one with a professor all kind of influences your experience at that particular school. And so talking a little bit more about the learning experience within a management or business school, some schools might place high emphasis on real-world, hands-on learning. Melissa, you talked a little bit about research there. While others might pride themselves on really strong in-classroom instruction. And plenty, I'm sure, strike a really great and powerful balance between the two. And so what should students be looking for from a meaningful management or business education?
[00:25:20] JL: Well, there's a lot of different ways that people could have a successful and meaningful education. And just to kind of build on the point, Brooke, I think that you've mentioned, and Melissa, there's no perfect college for everybody. As in every single person listening, you might have a different college that's right for you. It's not a one-size-fits all. And so, a lot of that comes down to thinking, "Okay, what do I care about? What kind of experience do I want to have?" And there's not necessarily a right or wrong experience. Well, tying that into what does it mean to have a meaningful education, it depends on what you want.
Prior to teaching at Bucknell, I was at the University of Alabama. And when I taught the intro accounting classes at the University of Alabama, I normally had over one hundred of students per class, per section. And honestly, I would know about 10 students’ names in each of those sections. And those would be the students that came after class to introduce themselves that would really participate, and so I got to know them. They took initiative, and I kind of knew them as people. And I kind of help them out for the next few years as they went further into the business school.
Well, at Bucknell or at other smaller schools, now that I teach the intro accounting class, I have 25 students per class. I know all 25 students, and I know not just their name but a little bit about what they're interested in, what groups they're involved in on campus and so forth.
And so which one's better? It's not necessarily cut and dry. We at Bucknell have a great basketball team — lots of other great sports teams — but it's not quite the same as going to a University of Alabama football game. And so for some students, as you think about what you want, there's pros and cons to these bigger versus smaller schools.
But I can tell you what a smaller school does offer. And so it is, as Melissa was saying, just that one-on-one interaction with your professor. And additionally, when you have smaller class sizes, you can do a lot more. For example, here at Bucknell, we offer a class called Management 101. And this is a class that every Freeman student has to take. And in this intro class, you're not just learning theories. You're learning theories and then actually starting a business. Every student in this class is put into a team and has to work to take these kind of theories that they've learned and apply them to actually create a business. They make a product. They advertise. They have to keep track of the financials. You're actually doing the work. And there's a lot of other examples. Case studies and team competitions — those are a great way to really apply the concepts that you're learning to a real-life setting.
Trying to strike that balance between what we call the “book learning,” which is really, really important. I think some people kind of want to move past that because it doesn't sound as fun, but that's the foundation. Well, hopefully you get the foundation of that book learning and then the chance to actually apply it. And another great way that you can do that is through internships.
[00:28:54] BT: Yeah, James, I love all of those examples of how, yeah, that balance between a really strong in-classroom instruction and hands-on learning can really create that meaning that a student is looking for.
And I'm glad that you mentioned internships there at the end. It's something I've been thinking about as we've gone through this conversation. Of course, internships are a great way to gain experience in a variety of fields, and I suspect that's especially true in business and management. In what ways can colleges and universities be a real asset to management and business students in seeking out those real-world opportunities?
[00:29:27] MI: I think that, in terms of internships, there are sort of three ways that wherever you choose to attend can help support you. The first is to give credit for participating. Is the school that you're interested in attending going to give you class credit while you are also interning, right? That's important. It's something that Bucknell is piloting right now. We recognize the importance of doing that and hope to be able to implement that as a policy in our curriculum in the future.
I think it's paying attention to the resources that are on campus. What is the career center like at the institution that you're looking at? I think an important thing for all of you listening to also look into is do you have a career center that services the entire campus, right? That's one model. Or is there a career center that services the entire campus, and then a separate career center that services the business or management school? Just pay attention to where those resources are at. Certainly, you can use them at each or all levels. But you will want to go to their career center. You will want to know those folks. You will want to make contact with them and want them to know who you are.
You will want to understand what platforms are available to you as a student, right? Is your school using a platform like Handshake where all the internships in the area that you might be interested in are posted? Is your school host seeing drop-in resume reviews so that they can get a look at your resume for you before you put it in front of a potential employer?
And I would also say to not underestimate the importance of talking to your professors about potential internships as well. And in fact, I think that's just a good suggestion. No matter where you end up, do not be afraid to talk to your professors. Make contact with them. Get to know them. Make sure they know who you are.
No matter where you go, big school, small school, whatever the school's mission is, talk to your professors. I think that's one of the biggest misconceptions is that we don't want to be approached, that we're not helpful. And in fact, I would say that we all get into this job, on some level, because we love teaching, and we love being around students and we like seeing them be successful.
And so, talk to your professors. Find out what they can help you with in internships. Make friends with the career center on campus, whatever level it exists at on your campus. And check to see if the school that you're interested in is giving credit for participating. What kind of system do they have set up to ingratiate those internship experiences into the credit that you earn towards your degree?
[00:32:46] BT: Yeah, Melissa, I loved all of the advice that you had to offer there. And you talked a little bit about career centers and the resources there on a campus. And of course, one of the goals of college is preparation for a career. And we talked a little bit about how students can get a sense of where their management education might take them, but I'd like to return to that here. How can students feel assured that their education will pay off in the long run?
[00:33:14] JL: I mean, that really is a big question because, when you go to college, you're making an investment in your future. And it's not just a financial investment, although that's a big part. You're investing four years. Hopefully, four. For some people, more. But you're investing four years of your life into this. And so you want to make sure, "Is this worth it?"
And of course, there's never a perfect guarantee. But one good way really is to look at the graduates of this university and say, "Are they doing something that I think I want to do?" And in fact — again, you can look at the recent graduates — another good way to look at the long run impact of your degree is to ask the university, "Can you put me in contact with somebody that graduated 15 years ago? 20 years ago?" And you know what? They'll do it. And that way, you can talk to these people that have actually gone through these classes and say, "Okay, how did those skills that I learned really prepare me to succeed in the long run?"
And I mentioned this earlier in our podcast today, but when you get a degree in management, you are opening up a lot of doors for yourself and you're not locking yourself in to one specific field or one specific job. And so, I'm in accounting, and acounting within our Freeman College is one of our more technical kind of direct fields. And we have people that graduate with an accounting degree at Bucknell and they go on to become partners at their accounting firms. That means that they've been there a long time and they've basically reached as high as they could go. They're in it for their entire life and they're really happy.
But we also have people that graduate with an accounting degree from Bucknell and they go to work in accounting. And after two or three years, they think, “You know what? I don't like this as much as I thought I did. I want to do something different." And they can. They have the skills. Not just the technical but, again, I keep emphasizing those soft skills — the leadership, the communication, critical thinking — that they can do a wide, wide variety of other things.
In fact, we recently had some accounting graduates leave their big accounting firms, and they started up a business manufacturing ice cream machines. And they actually have become disrupters to the whole U.S. They are now one of the most significant ice cream manufacturers in the entire country. And there's some news articles about that business. But they were accounting majors. They had some skills and they thought, "Okay. I don't like this anymore. Let me do something different." And they could.
If that's true for accounting — if you can major in accounting and then pivot to something else three or four years later — you can certainly major in many other things, in general, with business. But certainly, here at Bucknell. And you really will have the skills in the long run to find something that you're passionate about.
[00:36:14] BT: Yeah, you never know where your path is going to lead. And so that is a little bit in the future for our high school students who might be listening. As far as getting ahead or maybe kind of cracking some of those doors open now, right now where they're at, are there any endeavors or experiences that translate well to a management education? How could high schoolers get a head start?
[00:36:41] MI: I think that what's most important is to recognize that your experiences do matter. That they are worth something. Oftentimes, students will come to me and say, "Well, all I've ever done is be a server in the summers." Right? Let's think about all the soft skills you've learned by doing that. You've learned conflict management. You've learned communication skills. You have learned basic interpersonal skills. How to make small talk. Which will serve you infinitely well when you go on the job market and in engaging with folks throughout your career and just your life. First, I would say don't discount the experiences you already have and that you're already getting, right?
But specifically, any leadership experiences that you can get while you're in school. If it's joining a club. And joining the club not just on paper, but really joining the club, and showing up to the club, and engaging in the club and taking on that officer role in the club could be an important way to get that leadership experience.
Team experiences, and I mean this in terms of athletic teams and academic teams, right? If you're part of a math competition, think about what you're learning there, not just in terms of the content but in terms of those soft skills that you're practicing.
Really, it's about, I would say, looking at, “What does my school have to offer specifically that matches up to what I think I might want to study? If it's business, do we have a business club of some sort that I can join?” But don't discount the way the experiences you have that aren't necessarily really tied to business can also help prepare you and give you a head start towards earning your degree. Almost anybody who's a member of an athletics team, we could discuss the multiple soft skills you've learned from being a part of that team. Same goes for academic teams.
And the other thing I would say is just being a student in school, probably one of the biggest skills that you can practice right now as you listen to this and finish your high school career is engagement. I oftentimes will tell my student, "All of college — really, all of life, all of your career — is an exercise in engagement." It's figuring out how to be engaged where you are in the moment that you're in, with the content that you're in, with the people that you're with, right? Even if it doesn't seem like the most exciting thing to you, you figure out how to be engaged in it. And that's something you can do right now that will translate amazingly well to how you perform in college.
[00:39:43] BT: Yeah, that piece about engagement and being able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you, and try to learn and grow in whatever space that's in, is so important.
And one place where high school students end up translating all of those experiences is in their application to whatever school they will be applying to. And so as we close this conversation, I'd like to end by talking a little bit about that application process. At Bucknell particularly, students must apply to one of our three colleges, meaning they would need to know that they want to major in management and apply to the Freeman College of Management right from the start. And so what advice do you have for students who might be applying to a competitive management college? How can they put their best foot forward?
[00:40:31] JL: I think one way is really just to be authentic in the application process. I was actually talking to a friend a couple years ago. He was graduating high school, and he was talking about, "Oh, I think they want to hear this." And he was trying to tailor his application essays around what he thought the applications team wanted to hear, the admissions team wanted to hear. I told him, "Don't do that." Even if you get in based on something like that, it probably won't be a good fit. What you want to do is just answer about yourself as truthfully, sincerely as possible.
And then in terms of specifically with the college of business, college of management applications, you don't have to have prior business experience. Although, if you do, that's great. What your faculty want to see, what the admissions team wants to see, is someone that is really excited about learning. If you're excited about learning, most universities are going to want to have you. Be authentic. You don't have to be an expert before you come in. Just show that you care and that you want to learn.
[00:41:42] MI: Yeah. And I would echo some of that by saying just be yourself and talk about what's important to you and what makes you you. Certainly, we understand you're allowed to evolve. You're allowed to grow as a person while you're here. That's what we want you to do. But at least for this essay, for this moment in time, you'll write about your experiences in a way that convey your passions, and your future desires and what you think you want to get out of this entire college experience. And in particular, why do you think a college of management might be a fit for you? I think this could be an area to really shine.
Do your research and understand who the faculty are in the particular program that you're interested in. And what interests do they have that might align with some of your interests? The way that I got matched up with my undergrad student who's studying economics is because I have an interest in grand challenges, big problems. And she was from a part of the country where homelessness was a big concern, and she wanted to understand how economic policy affected that problem. And she and I started to work together on this project, right? It was an example of her noting my research interests and recognizing that it would be a good fit for us.
You're going to be spending the next four years of your life in this place. You want to do some work on your own to go out and look at the websites of these schools and see what kind of faculty are there? What are they teaching? What do they say is important to them in terms of research? And do some homework on your own. And write about that in your essays, right? Write about what interests you and write about why you think you would be a good fit, given the folks that are already on faculty.
[00:43:38] BT: Well, I can't think of better advice to leave this episode with. I think this has been an amazing episode full of tons of advice and insights for our students who are interested in pursuing business and management in college. Thanks again to James and Melissa for chatting with us.
[00:43:53] MI: Thank you, Brooke.
[00:43:55] JL: Yeah, thank you, Brooke. And hopefully to people listening, maybe we'll see you in a couple of years.
[00:44:00] BT: We also want to thank everyone out there for listening. If you're a fan of the podcast, please take a moment to rate, subscribe and share this episode with the students in your life. College Admissions Insider will be back with another episode in a few weeks. In the meantime, send your questions, comments and episode ideas to email@example.com.
And finally, you're invited to follow Bucknell on your favorite social media apps. Just look for @bucknellu on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok. You can also follow our student-run Instagram account — where you'll likely see some students from our Freeman College of Management — which is @iamraybucknell.
Until next time. Keep on reaching for your dreams and your dream school.
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