Nearly 1 in 5 undergrads major in business — and that’s not by accident. Everyone talks about STEM majors landing good-paying jobs … they just forget to mention you won’t have a life until graduation. The liberal arts? Even in an economic boom, the market isn’t kind to grads who can deconstruct Finnegans Wake. Teaching? Who doesn’t crave long hours, low pay, meager resources, and daily disrespect?
Well, business has it all! Pay? Wharton business majors make $90K at the top — and Illinois grads pull down $65,490 when you get 25 spots lower. Return on investment? Well, Carnegie Mellon grads have banked $511K within ten years of graduation – and that’s for non-scholarship students after retiring tuition debt. In fact, non-scholarship graduates of 57 business schools had reaped a return of $400K or more within a decade of graduation.
These days, it isn’t just the money that attracts business majors. Whether students are adventurous, ambitious, or idealistic, the business school experience offers the versatility to pursue an array of paths and the toolkit to tackle the big problems — and turn a tidy profit in the process.
What makes majoring in business so energizing, transformative, and fun? As part of identifying this year’s Best & Brightest business majors, we asked students to share what they enjoyed most about business school. From learning-by-doing to personal attention, here are 10 of the biggest reasons why top students chose to study business — and had no regrets afterwards.
1) Ability to Travel: “The thing I most enjoyed about my business school was the support I received to travel so much during my undergrad. I went on a study abroad on my major where we visited 12 European countries, assisted my professor on a tourism research trip to Hawaii, received a grant from my department to attend a professional development conference in New York City, and won a case competition that allowed me to travel to California. What’s not to love about that?” Miranda Dennett, Brigham Young University (Marriott)
2) Teaches You What Really Matters: “No matter whether you are trying to enact change or achieve an objective, you need to be able to work on teams, consider diverse opinions and ideas, and communicate your thoughts in a convincing manner. The fact that Questrom taught me how to operate a business is great, but the fact that I had the opportunity to enhance my skills and develop the tools needed to undertake any endeavor I choose is really what I loved about the school.” Ana Sofia Brown, Boston University (Questrom)
3) Surrounded By Energy: “I have most enjoyed witnessing and learning from the passion that I see in Goizueta students. There is a shared, infectious drive toward personal and community improvement at Goizueta that permeates classroom discussion and is tangible in the hallways. I appreciate that we all support each other, but aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo or to identify wrongs. The students and faculty all have individual passions, and those are each celebrated as critical assets to our community.” Grace Cleland, Emory University (Goizueta)
4) Case Competitions: “This one’s easy — case competitions! While being locked in a room for hours at a time is rarely anyone’s ideal Friday and Saturday, I wouldn’t trade the for the world the relationships I’ve built with my teammates, nor the thrill experienced when we land on arguing the right ideas.” Rachael Sun, Indiana University (Kelley)
5) Supportive Culture: “I enjoyed that my business school is extremely competitive, yet everyone is so close knit like a family. We all want to strive to be excellent students and clamor for the best job openings, but at the same time we all want the best for each other and would not hesitate to help someone out. For example, I have spoken to many contacts of mine about friends that I feel would be a great fit for a certain role at a company, and friends of mine have done the same for me! My business school truly allows students to build an amazing network and meet amazing people.” Justin Harris, Syracuse University (Whitman)
6) Hands-On Learning: “I most enjoyed the diversity of projects we completed for real companies and the opportunity to present our findings to top decision makers at those companies. For example, I presented a mobile app prototype to the Chief Marketing Officer of CarMax, and I presented a machine learning project to the CEO of RentPath. I am very grateful for these rare opportunities to get face-to-face with business leaders.” Brian Alexander Mitchell, University of Virginia (Darden)
7) Remarkable Classmates: “Being educated in the post-Amazon/Microsoft world has made everyone so innovate and creative. It’s as though every fifth classmate you encounter has an idea or plan that has the capability of flipping an industry on its head to better suit our world.” J. Scott Allen, III, Michigan State University (Broad)
8) Family Atmosphere: “My business school is my second home. I have experience an overwhelming level of love from the staff, faculty, and students. When I walk through the halls I am constantly running into people I know from many different experiences I have been able to partake in just to make it to the undergrad office to be surround by staff that treat me like family. So what I enjoy in a nutshell is the sense of a strong supportive and loving of community a have the pleasure of feeling every time I set foot in the building.” Cece Ukejianya, University of Maryland (Smith)
9) Access To Thought Leaders: “I appreciated the vast amount opportunities for engagement not just with other students, but also with our faculty and college’s leadership teams. They have shown me how an organization’s culture is truly influenced by those who are steering the ship. Hearing initiatives and ideas directly from our deans, then seeing them promoted and executed by people ranging from department heads to students has provided me with an understanding of the impact quality leadership can have on an organization, its constituents, and its culture.” Phillip K. Newsom, University of Tennessee (Haslam)
10) Prepare You To Be Your Own Boss: “I loved the way that it supported me in my own entrepreneurial endeavors. At Wharton, you get a rigorous education of key business concepts such as finance, accounting, marketing, statistics, and decision-making. In addition to providing the educational content, it also exposed us to the biggest names in each of those fields by having them teach us the concepts. Those professors are also available for office hours to provide guidance and mentorship. The school also recruits very driven and intelligent students, creating a very strong learning environment. Combining all of these together, one can get all the theoretical knowledge necessary to start their own business and understand how it all works in practice. That’s what I did with Kayvon Enterprises, my holding company that manages my music, clothing, and technology businesses. The school and environment provided me with the tools to get started, the playing ground to experiment with success and failure, and the constant opportunity to continue improving. My entrepreneurship was an extension of the classroom, and that’s why I learned so much.” Kayvon Asemani, Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)