Which business school produces the happiest graduates? This year, the honor belongs to Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business. In a 16 question survey given to Class of 2018 alumni from 93 business schools, Scheller grads gave their alma mater the highest composite score – 9.35 on a 10-point scale. In the process, Scheller climbed into the Top 10 in P&Q’s 2021 Undergraduate Business School ranking.
Where does Scheller excel? Well, pretty much across the board, ranking in the Top 5 in 11 of 16 categories (and placing 6th for soft skills). Alumni gave it the highest scores among all schools for delivering extracurricular opportunities and being instrumental in helping students reach their dream career. At the same time, Scheller earned the 2nd-best average for being worth the cost of tuition. Along the same lines, the program ranked 3rd for fostering life-changing experiences, bringing students in contact with practicing professionals and alumni, and being worth the time and resources.
Chances are, the Class of 2020 will be equally bullish about their alma mater. After all, nearly 96% of the graduating class found jobs within three months of graduation. And not just any jobs – nearly 88% reported working at their desired company.
“Scheller truly cares about every student and ensures that graduates will become leaders in their respective fields of study,” writes 2020 grad Jason Quill. “Scheller equips students with the technical skills, soft skills, and network to pursue any career.”
It is the “technical” part that stands out. Scheller isn’t like other business schools. Technology and innovation are front-and-center in every course. Here, students are focused on conceptualizing, developing, integrating, and managing new technological applications, be it in marketing, operations, or finance. To do that, the school has adopted an experiential model that constantly places students inside area companies.
“This project allowed me to connect to my first employer, who then connected me to my current job,” one 2018 alumni told P&Q. “I worked in a cross-functional team to research and develop an innovative solution to an actual problem at the company chosen for my capstone project.”
“I worked directly with the Home Depot to help evaluate a new loyalty program and got to travel to various cities to interview store associates,” added another Class of 2018 alum who was surveyed by P&Q. “At the end of the project, my team presented to executives at THD headquarters.”
Such opportunities are possible, says Shane Phillipps, because Scheller faculty bring deep industry experience to the classroom. “Their ability to incorporate their experience into the classroom setting makes for a much more practical experience for us as students,” writes the 2019 Scheller grad. “These are often the teachers who will start off class discussing a current event and how our topics relate to the matter. Moreover, these professors often have held jobs that their students are seeking and can offer invaluable insights and advice. In certain situations, professors are even able to enhance a student’s network by making introductions for them.”
However, don’t mistake “tech” for nerdy or impersonal. In reality, the undergraduate business community is rather small and close-knit adds 2020 grad Darby Foster.
“I have loved experiencing the feeling of being at both a large and small school. The students, faculty, and staff here are so friendly and kind and it makes for a wonderful atmosphere as soon as you walk into the building. I have been able to develop personal relationships with all of the academic and career advisors in addition to many of my professors and peers. Scheller became my home in Atlanta as soon as I stepped on campus and I could not be more grateful for that.”
In January, P&Q reached out to Craig Womack, Scheller’s associate dean for undergraduate programs. From STEM programming to the benefits of studying in Atlanta, here are Womack’s thoughts on what makes Scheller a program to watch in the coming years.
5 QUESTIONS WITH CRAIG WOMACK
P&Q: What are faculty and career advisors doing a bit differently – or more effectively – to generate this level of alumni enthusiasm?
Womack: “At the Scheller College of Business, our students mean everything to us. The quality of their learning experience at Scheller and how that learning translates into their career success is what drives everything we do.
Unlike many b-schools, where students can’t declare a business major and take specialized classes until they’ve completed their core coursework, students at Scheller are admitted directly into the BSBA program, allowing them to build relationships from the moment they step through the door. We provide a dedicated advisor to each and every student for their full tenure at Scheller. Our students and advisors form strong bonds with each other, as advisors provide individualized attention in areas such as curriculum planning, identifying and preparing for internships, international and extracurricular opportunities, and job search assistance, among other mentoring activities.
We differentiate ourselves by requiring all students to take two courses in career development before graduating. Intensive career preparation starts their first semester in our business seminar course and continues in our career development course their third year. Both courses are taught by our undergraduate program team.
In the first-year business seminar course, our learning objectives include developing smart study practices based on individual learning preferences; improving time management skills; understanding Scheller’s programs, opportunities, and requirements; becoming familiar with business concentration areas; improving written and verbal communication skills; and identifying internship opportunities. Through this course, our first-year students also learn how to compete successfully in business case competitions like Deloitte’s Undergraduate National Case Competition, allowing them to expand their business experience and critical thinking skills to solve real-world business problems.
In the third-year career development course, we concentrate on career-building by teaching students how to make a strong first impression, create high impact resumes, demonstrative strong interview skills, and compare and negotiate job offers. This is what Jenny Choi (BSBA ’20) had to say about the course:
“The career development course offered a great overview into expectations in the professional world. I feel that it gives Scheller graduates a competitive advantage. Furthermore, my advisor in Scheller’s Undergraduate Advising Office was an amazing support system for me as I navigated recruiting.”
I believe Scheller alumni look back and see how much we cared about them and their success. They recognize how hard we worked to provide a well-balanced portfolio of experiences that eventually led them to the jobs they wanted. Our graduates are some of the most elite prospects for potential employers because they’ve been prepared for internships and career opportunities from day one onwards. We’re extremely proud of our alumni– Nothing means more to us than their success.”
P&Q: Scheller also generated high scores in the alumni survey for connecting students with alumni members and for alumni members connecting them to employers. What does Scheller do to facilitate these student-alumni connections?
Womack: At Scheller, we pride ourselves on the strength of the community we have nurtured. We have an active, highly accessible alumni community that is eager to aid our students in networking, finding internships, and securing full-time positions. We reinforce the necessity of making alumni connections through meetings with the students during their sophomore year, and then we teach them how to excel in any recruitment process in a required junior-level class.
In their required career development course, students must reach out to Scheller alumni and meet with them throughout their program. Through these interactions, our students become connected with alumni relevant to their target industry, who become essential to empowering students to pursue their career passions.
P&Q: Scheller is known for a strong focus on STEM. Talk to how this makes an undergraduate business major unique at the school? Also, tell us a bit about the Denning Technology & Management (T&M) program.
Womack: “Our motto – “At the intersection of business and technology” – is meant to capture how central educating at the nexus of tech, innovation, and business is to us and our mission. Our curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, career services, and corporate engagements all center around cultivating leaders who use technology as their vehicle for driving change and impact.
Our Denning Technology & Management (T&M) Program is one such example. The program aims to develop a generation of collaborative, ethical business leaders with the capability of leveraging technology to improve the state of the world. It is a competitive, 22-credit program open to all Georgia Tech undergraduate majors that allows students to earn a minor in Engineering & Business, Computing & Business, or Technology & Business. Each of the three minors culminates in an eight-month interdisciplinary capstone project sponsored by one of T&M’s corporate affiliates. Current sponsors include Boeing, Caterpillar, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Equifax, Georgia-Pacific, NCR, Navy Nuclear Labs (NNL), Siemens, Southwire, Steelcase, and Ware2Go. Here’s what Ronnie Ludwin (BSBA ’20) had to say about the program:
“For me, the T&M program was key in shaping my Scheller experience. By working with engineering and computer science majors on STEM-heavy projects, I was able to develop my analytical acumen while being challenged to take a more technical approach to solving business problems.”
P&Q: How does majoring in business in Atlanta enrich a student’s overall experience?
Womack: “The benefits Scheller’s physical location provides to students can’t be understated. For the seventh year in a row, Georgia was ranked the No. 1 Top State for Doing Business by Area Development. In the latest Fortune 1000 list, 30 companies are headquartered in metro Atlanta. Additionally, Scheller is in the heart of midtown Atlanta’s Technology Square – an area with the highest density of startups, corporate innovators, and academic researchers in the southeastern U.S. It is home to some of the top companies in the world including, Chick-Fil-A, Coca-Cola, Delta, and The Home Depot, UPS to name a few. Our students are coached and mentored on how to take full advantage of all of this.”
P&Q: Over the past two years, you’ve climbed from 18th to 10th in our newest undergraduate business ranking. What are some new and upcoming developments in your program that will enhance the business program for future business majors?
Womack: “For one, we’ve expanded Scheller student opportunities far beyond the boundaries of our college. Our partnership with other Georgia Tech programs has exponentially increased our offerings to our students. These partnerships include participating in Create-X, a Georgia Tech initiative that helps to build entrepreneurial skills and empowers students to launch successful startups. To date, the program has launched 159 startups over the last five years. Students get also get involved in Georgia Tech’s Vertically Integrated Projects, allowing them to work on large-scale, multi-disciplinary project teams that are led by faculty throughout Tech. We are continuously expanding our international opportunities for study and work abroad. We are also developing new opportunities for students to work in settings they normally would not experience, including non-profit organizations in low-income communities. One thing is for certain: we are never going to stop striving to offer something better to our students each year.”
P&Q: What is the most underrated feature of your undergraduate business program and how does it enhance the experience for your business majors?
Womack: “Here at Scheller, we know your name and we listen to you. It’s what sets us apart. Prospective students who choose Scheller often remark that the strong sense of community here was the deciding factor in their choice. Our current students are surrounded by a supportive group of faculty and staff who view teaching, advising, and mentoring students as their biggest priority. Our program office has developed an extensive outreach process for new and existing students, and we’re here to ensure our students receive immediate support and feedback.
Another differentiator is that unlike many b-schools where students can’t declare a business major and take specialized classes until they’ve completed their core coursework, students at Scheller are admitted directly into the BSBA program, allowing them to build their foundation of business knowledge from the moment they start their collegiate experience.
Lastly, Scheller’s experiential and extracurricular opportunities are truly standout. Whether through Georgia Tech clubs and associations or surrounding companies and organizations in Atlanta, everything we offer helps our students become well-rounded individuals with a strong toolbox of interpersonal and professional skills, ready to take on any and every challenge. This is what said Barrett Kulik (BSBA ’20) has told us about his experience:
“There are a couple things that stood out to me about Scheller when I toured here, and I have only developed more of an appreciation for those things during my time here. First is that the students are all striving for excellence and we want to help others be as successful as they can be. The second is our reputation in the business world for our work ethic and problem-solving skills. Scheller focuses on giving you the tools necessary to be successful in the real world, not just in the classroom. The professors constantly bring real world examples from their experience in industry to class and try to prepare us as best they can to be problem solvers.”