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For the first time ever in 2017, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business accepted freshmen into the program. Traditionally a three-year program, the change means that 80% of each class, roughly 500 students, will now be accepted as freshmen. A remaining 125 students will come in as transfers in their sophomore year.
The decision to move to a four-year program makes Ross a far more desirable destination for business students than it had been. That’s because it was possible for students interested in majoring in business to get into the university and then be denied admission later on. In 2016, only 260 students had been admitted to Ross as freshmen in what was generally regarded as a three-year business program.
Known as a “public Ivy,” Michigan has long had one of the premier undergraduate business experiences. With an average starting salary of $72,000, Ross 2017 graduates were compensated higher than graduates at all but seven other business schools on this year’s Poets&Quants undergraduate B-school ranking. Ross also has some of the most stringent application processes. The entering class for the fall of 2017 battled an 18% acceptance rate and boasted an average SAT of 1440 on the new 1600-point scoring scale.
COLLEGE IN A CLASSIC COLLEGE TOWN
The city of Ann Harbor, home to Michigan Ross, is an attractive to spend a few years. It consistently ranks among the list of top 10 college towns by Livability.com.
“We offer students unique learning opportunities, not only in business, but across a full range of disciplines – from technology to healthcare, public policy, law, and education, among others,” Scott DeRue, dean of the Ross School of Business, said to the school community. “We are developing leaders who have the character and capabilities to create a better world through business, and multidisciplinary learning is essential to that mission. It makes for an amazing academic and learning experience, as well as the largest, most diverse, and highly connected alumni network in the world.”
While many other schools are constantly evolving and adding majors, at Ross, there are no majors to choose from. “The Michigan Ross degree prepares students for success in all areas of business,” Amy Contrera, director of Marketing Intelligence at the school, says. “However, the core and elective model, along with a range of professional co-curricular experiences and clubs, enables students to create their own concentrations or specialties in their area of interest.”
As attractive as University of Michigan may be with it’s constant innovation and alumni network of over 267,000 on LinkedIn throughout the world, choosing Ross doesn’t come easy for most students. The school estimates that the total four-year cost of attending Ross to be $71,340 for in-state students and more than double for the out-of-state student at $195,436. On top of that, students are likely to spend another $56,000 on room, board, transportation, and supplied while at Michinga. Despite the price tag on it, 73% of alumni we surveyed said they would recommend the program to anyone interested in business without hesitation, vouching for the strategies of one of America’s best undergraduate business programs.
MORE THAN HALF OF ROSS UNDERGRADS HAVE A GLOBAL IMMERSION
The MERGE program is part of what makes Ross graduates so attractive to employers. During their first year, students take liberal art and science classes on top of their foundation business courses. In the second year, students develop an understanding of almost every aspect of business, ranging from accounting and business strategy to marketing and economics. They also complete a paper analyzing individual, group, and societal identity and influence before moving into their unusual junior year experience.
Juniors at Ross complete an integrative fall semester where Ross students take a set of four courses designed to help them connect the dots between disciplines. Embedded in this experience is the Zell Lurie Institute (ZLI) Entrepreneurship Challenge, which charges students to address a problem from a variety of angles with the goal of coming up with the best solution. In 2017, students worked to develop solutions to problems that the U.N. had identified as its Global Goals.
In winter, students can either choose to continue taking business classes or head overseas to more different viewpoints and by the end of the year, students must turn in a reflective paper on the topic of diversity. The school reports that 53% of students have a global experience before graduation even though there are no compulsory international business classes.
When they return for their senior year, students reconvene in classrooms to bring their new knowledge and experiences to the table to share with their peers, before they begin their capstone courses in the winter. Their last year at the university is also when students work on reflection papers about their thoughts, opinions, and experiences on how groups of individuals can leverage identity and diversity to help build up any organization they join.
In a time where many organizations are trying to figure out how diversity can be leveraged as part of their identity, and employers consider asking interviewees their opinion on diversity at the workplace, Ross graduates enter the market having already contemplated themselves and what they bring to their colleagues and workplace.
STUDENT-RUN INVESTMENT CLUB HIGHLIGHTS MORE THAN 100 CLUBS AND ACTIVITIES AVAILABLE TO ROSS STUDENTS
To make sure the education that Ross students receive is truly all-rounded, they are encouraged to explore the community around the school, and the world outside the university. While business students don’t have any majors, there are over 100 clubs and activities for students to choose from depending on their interests. For finance-lovers, the Alternative Investments Club introduces students to alternative asset classes including hedge funds, private equity, real-estate, and venture capital. With a Ross LinkedIn alumni network of almost 15,000 professionals, getting industry players to share their real-life experiences and market trend observations is just a phone call away.
For students interested in consulting, there’s the Atlas Consulting Group that helps students hone their business acumen and analytical skill. The team works with business and not-for-profit organizations to offer them research strategic and consulting services with their challenges. With the 180 Degrees Consulting group, students provide socially conscious organizations around the world with management consulting services to help them develop innovative, practical, and sustainable solutions to challenges to their social impact they can make. Another consulting group students can join is the Nexecon Consulting Group that works with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, Fortune 500 organizations, and government agencies. Other than providing consulting services, members attend exclusive networking events and go on an annual career excursion to Chicago. The club prides itself on the 100% full-time employment rate of its 150 alumni from 15 different majors. All applicants go through a case interview where they solve simulated business problems presented to them by an interviewer and all first-year members work as an analyst with a support system including training and mentorship.
“Joining a group like Nexecon shaped my college career,” Christopher Haberer, a 2016 graduate said about the program. “The opportunity to lead a team and to develop a business plan for a small local business was an incredible experience for me to have as a student.”
Victor Tsai, a 2014 graduate, aid that his three-year experience with the student-run consulting group gave him client exposure and experience in project management where he rose to become Director of Internal Development. Tsai also got to study abroad in Russia and Peru while at U-M and works as an associate consultant with consulting firm ZS in the greater Chicago area.
THREE-QUARTERS OF THE CLASS OF 2017 COMPLETED A CONSULTING PROJECT
As their final signature deliverable, students at the Ross School choose to between a Capstone Thesis course exploring business theory and business functions, a Professional Capstone course connecting the professional world with academic learning, or a Capstone Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP). Those who choose the Capstone MAP work in teams to tackle pressing business challenges for sponsor organizations including major corporations, startups, and nonprofits.
The school also recently launched the Living Business Leadership Experience (LBLE) course where students establish and lead a functional team in an actual, operational business unit. They go on to work directly with executives of a sponsoring company and learn under the supervision of faculty advisors. Come winter 2018, students at Ross will be working with Ford Smart Mobility, Shinola Detroit LLC, The NRP Group LLC, Ookla, and Daily Fuel.
“Learning by doing prepares students for the challenges of their careers by developing their abilities to think independently, function with limited data, manage ambiguity, collaborate effectively, and continually grow from their experiences,” DeRue said in a press release introducing the LBLE program. “Developing these abilities is the principal objective of experiential learning and it forms the core of our academic philosophy at Michigan Ross.”
With all the opportunities to work with companies off campus, the school estimates that 75% of students in the class of 2017 had participated in a consulting project before graduation, about 82% had completed a business-specific internship before their senior year, and within three months after graduation, 77% of students had already found full-time jobs.