From the moment a student steps onto the campus of Lehigh University’s College of Business, they’re taken care of.
Starting Fall 2019, first-year students entering Lehigh will experience a new core curriculum that is aimed at improving their ability to recognize and seize business opportunities, solve problems, and stretch their potentials in a digitally intense, global marketplace. Having these demands on your shoulders when you may have just moved to a new city, into a new room, and amid new friends, can be intimidating and stressful. So, at Lehigh, all business freshmen are supported by peer mentors who are at least sophomores in their school. After all, those who have walked in your shoes before know what they can feel like before it becomes overwhelming.
As companies increasingly expect to hire business graduates who are agile and analytic-enabled, with outstanding communication skills and having practiced working in diverse teams, the number of criteria students need to hit to stand out is growing, and the administrators at Lehigh know this. This is why students choosing Lehigh should expect a revamped first-year experience with an increased focus on critical thinking, core essential skills, and professional development.
“We’re seeing a lot of exciting new things here at Lehigh. The students who come here are students who like to do. They are not only engaged in academics but also applied activity like clubs and organizations,” Katrina Zalatan, Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs, said. “They are doers.”
All business students who join the four-year program at Lehigh can choose to do a Bachelor of Science in Business and Economics, Integrated Business and Engineering, or Computer Science and Business. For those who choose Business and Economics, they can major in Accounting, Economics, Finance, Business Information Systems, Marketing, Management, and Supply Chain Management. The accounting major is further split into three tracks, Public Accounting Assurance and Tax Services, Financial Services and Corporate Accounting, and Information Technology.
In Fall 2018, the private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, received 3069 applications and admitted 687 students, giving them a direct acceptance rate of just 22 percent. The average SAT score of students entering the undergraduate business program in Fall 2018 was 1376, with 55 percent of students providing their scores for consideration. Only 44 percent of students provided their ACT scores for consideration, with the average being 31.
The school estimates that the total four-year cost of attending Lehigh, including tuition and fees, is $190,180, with additional expenses such as food, lodging, transportation, and supplied adding another $58,230. Almost 40 percent of incoming Fall 2018 business students received scholarship support, with the average amount being $35,974.
FUNDAMENTALS FIRST AT LEHIGH
At Lehigh, all students begin their business education with an introduction to business course to learn the fundamentals of business, and a Professional Development Track, that introduces them to career strengths, self-assessment, and professional development planning. Students choose and attend a minimum number of information sessions, guest speaker series, and professional skill workshops to start their personalized path to internship and job-seeking readiness under the advisory of faculty.
“Students come to us wanting to make an impact and when they leave, they should have a clearer vision of where they fit in and can make an impact through their contributions in business. We seek to give them a clear understanding of success,” Zalatan said. “Our employers keep coming back to recruit on campus and continue to engage our students because they think highly of them. In return, our students become alumni and come back to participate in classes and mentor students in programs.”
In both the Class of 2017 and 2018, the school shared that 90 percent of students had completed business-specific internships before graduation. When it came to full-time employment, 88 percent of students in the Class of 2017 found jobs within months of graduation, while 85 percent of students from the Class of 2018 did the same. Companies that have consistently hired Lehigh graduates include the “Big Four” accounting firms, Citigroup, Vitech Systems Group, and IBM. Other top hirers of students from the Classes of 2017 and 2018 are General Electric, Accenture, Prudential, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
MORE CRITICAL-SKILLS TRAINING
To do an even better job of preparing their students for the workforce, Lehigh’s new curriculum includes three new and required “critical-skill course sequences” that will start in the first year and be addressed more deeply in their junior year, just as students are diving into major coursework.
The first is the Analytics and Decision Making Sequence, where students are immersed in calculus, statistics, and a new business analytics course right from the start. These courses will serve as prerequisites for more functionally-oriented business core courses students take as sophomores. In this course, students will engage in hands-on programming, and learn basic concepts of data collection, organization, and exploration for the purpose of making a better business decision and building more efficient processes. Students will then take a more in-depth business analytics course in their junior year where they engage in hands-on data analysis, learn and practice techniques and algorithms for creating effective visualizations to support business decision making.
The second is the Business Communications Sequence, where students discuss critical issues affecting society today and are introduced to writing claims in respective conversations with others. They also practice delivering professional, clear, concise, evidence-driven persuasive communications including memos, reports, and presentations. In their junior year, students will build on the skills acquired to connect communication to data, learning to translate and analyze data, organize a narrative around data, and make persuasive recommendations.
“We’ve always had a strong focus on technical education and we’re teaching our students more about data analytics. However, students need to take that learning and communicate, sell an idea, create a narrative around that information, and make it impactful,” Zalatan said. “It’s the heart of why you have business communications and our new curriculum is designed to run alongside technical training.”
The third is a Leadership and Management Sequence, where students engage in group projects and co-curricular activities and practice leading with impact. First-year students study the principles of effective, ethical management at the individual, interpersonal, and group levels, and as juniors will look deeper at leadership styles, and increase their capacity for leadership by growing their self-awareness, social awareness, and organizational awareness.
STARTUP ACADEMY IN SAN FRANCISCO
In summer 2018, the Lehigh College of Business and Economics and the Lehigh@Nasdaq Center launched the Startup Academy. Twelve students will be selected for the internship program where they will learn about the entrepreneurial process by immersing themselves in the innovation ecosystem in San Francisco. Because the students will be working in small startups, the school reassures them that they will be given ample learning opportunities throughout the 10-week internship. Students will spend up to 40 hours per week with these early to mid-stage startups, developing their entrepreneurial mindsets and skill sets, while engaging in a one-credit course with their Startup Academy peers. Students will also be paired with a mentor in their professional area of interest to receive additional guidance and coaching.
“The program started last year and involves a big recruitment process. Lehigh also compensates the students and provide them with place to live while they are in our SF office,” Zalatan said. “Our first graduating class was this past summer and there’s been a lot of interest.”
KEEPING UP WITH INDUSTRY CHANGES
The accounting department at Lehigh has launched a unique new course called the Segal Accounting Distinguished Lecture Series, where students are introduced to current accounting issues from the perspective of distinguished thought leaders in the accounting profession. Open to all accounting majors, as well as freshman and sophomore students who are interested in a career in accounting, students can sign up to listen to notable leaders such as Rick Petrino, Executive Vice President, Corporate Controller, and Principal Accounting Officer of American Express Company, who is also a Lehigh alum.
In line with rapid changes happening in the finance industry, the school has introduced a new FinTech Minor as a collaboration between the Department of Finance and Business Information Systems. The minor is composed of four courses and will touch on topics including disruptive technologies such as cryptocurrency, business analytics, blockchain, mobile banking, cybersecurity, machine learning, and mobile trading as they are applied to the financial services sector.
And in collaboration with the Department of Marketing and Business Information Systems, students can now also take a Business Analytics Certificate where they look at firms using data to make decisions. The 12 credit program includes work on computer programming, business intelligence, computer models, and data management.
In the Management department, a new management minor was introduced two years ago following demand from students to work on their soft skills in preparation for the workforce. The faculty have since also introduced the International Business Certificate, for students interested in learning more about International business, and to develop a global mindset. Students who take the 12-credit minor will be exposed to international business and management and other courses that will broaden their functional knowledge and cultural competencies, as well as a study abroad experience.
And in the marketing arena, three new courses have been added to help students keep up with industry changes. They are Digital and Social Media, Marketing Analytics in a Digital Space, and Retail Marketing.
To keep up with all the new courses and technological advancements in the world of business, Zalatan says that the College of Business and Economics is in the construction design phase of creating a new building to move into. The new facility is likely to be ready by Spring 2021, and with the move, they will also be renovating the current building.
“The new facility will include a new trading center, a dedicated communications skills lab, and more entrepreneurial and innovation space to match the new curriculum we’ve designed,” Zalatan said.
There are plenty of opportunities for a Lehigh student to work on developing their global mindset, from taking a microfinance class called “Financial Inclusion of the Poor”, or learning about comparative economic systems and international trade and finance, or taking a look at international social entrepreneurship, or a deep dive into the political economies of a specific country such as China or Iraq.
In response to a survey conducted by P&Q, over 90 percent of alumni from the Class of 2016 said that they would recommend the Lehigh business program to their friends and family, with more than 60 percent saying they would do so without hesitation. More than 50 percent of them said they believed the program had prepared them exceptionally well for the world of work, and that the opportunities given to them in the business program to nurture and improve their business skills were exceptional. And when it comes to going global, about 40 percent of Lehigh alumni from the Class of 2016 said they went abroad. From studying abroad in Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai, and interning in Portugal, to taking global marketing classes in Belgium, the students shared having great experiences where they were immersed in another culture and got to learn on-the-ground.
Students at Lehigh get to choose from over 250 semester abroad opportunities from the university. For those looking for a business-specific travel opportunity, the College of Business and Economics has a Vietnam-Singapore trip students can apply to, faculty-led programs that last between four and size weeks long to Belgium, Prague, Shanghai, and Ireland.
A student who was a Lee Lacocca scholar said he helped develop market research surveys for a small startup in Portugal, and that the independent internship set him apart from other candidates in the job market. “I also helped create an econometric model with a graduate student for a local business to assess visitation, seasonality and inform staffing which also was key to giving me a boost in my career,” shared the alumnus, who reported that they were now working as a senior analyst with Havas Worldwide.
Closer to home, alumni from the Class of 2016 shared that they were part of projects where they learned by doing in the community. As part of the Integrated Business and Engineering program at Lehigh, Allison Fletcher, Class of 2016, participated in a year-long capstone project. She worked with a local entrepreneur with four other students who had business and engineering majors different than hers to help develop a business strategy to bring his application for creating music covers to life. Today, Fletcher is a materials engineer with DuPont USA.
The school shared that the average salary for business majors with full-time employment from the Class of 2017 was $64,073, a number which rose marginally to $66,598 for the Class of 2018. The average signing bonus for the Class of 2018 was also slightly higher at $6,688, compared to $6,538, with almost 50 percent of students in each class receiving signing bonuses.
Overall, the alumni of the Class of 2016 report being extremely satisfied with what Lehigh has done for their careers. Over 86 percent of students reported that their first job after graduating was in their desired job function, and almost 75 percent even said they had found jobs at their desired company. In line with this, 80 percent of alums said they believed that their business degree would probably assist them in climbing to a new socioeconomic status.
What Alumni Say:
“As part of the IBE (Integrated Business and Engineering) program at Lehigh, I participated in the IBE Capstone project. This is a year-long project where students get to work hands-on with a local startup, entrepreneur or company that needs help developing their business plan, finding their niche market, or really anything else in the business strategy or product development space. My experience was extremely positive; my team of five students (from all different business and engineering majors) helped a local entrepreneur develop a business strategy to bring his application for creating music covers to life.” – Recent Alumni
“There’s a program called Lehigh in Prague that a large number of students from my area of study go to. We get paired with a company in Prague and complete a 5-week internship with that company, with the work relating to both Computer Science and Business.” – Recent Alumni
“I was a Lee Iacocca Scholar and developed market research surveys for a small startup in Portugal through the program. The independent internship set me apart from other candidates. I also helped create an econometric model with a graduate student for a local business to assess visitation, seasonality and inform staffing which also was key to giving me a boost in my career.” — Recent Alumni
Where The Class Of 2018 Went To Work:
EY LLP – 25
PwC – 25
KPMG LLP – 9
Deloitte – 8
IBM – 7
JPMorgan Chase & Co. – 7
Citi – 4
Vanguard – 4
Accenture – 3
SEI – 3
Vitech Systems Group – 3