“Satisfaction Guaranteed” is a staple in television ads. It conveys safety, a no risk and no regret investment. You could say this same guarantee applies to the Freeman College, a business school with the highest overall satisfaction rate in the country.
Overall, Freeman ranks 29th overall in P&Q’s 2020 undergraduate business school ranking. However, alumni, faculty, and students can take to the streets chanting “We’re #1” thanks to P&Q’s new alumni survey. Covering 17 questions – including return on investment, faculty quality, and career preparation among other measures – the Pennsylvania school scored a 9.38 average on a 10-point satisfaction scale. That includes the top overall scores in alumni support, academic advising, career advising, networking, and socioeconomic improvement. At the same time, Freeman ranked among the five-best business schools for skill development, teaching quality, and life-changing experience.
What’s behind these high marks from alumni? From a 30,000-foot view, Raquel Alexander, Dean of the Freeman College of Management, credits Bucknell University as a whole. “Our curriculum goes far beyond the traditional business school course of study,” she tells P&Q. “Bucknell is home to three highly-regarded colleges: the Freeman College of Management, the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Engineering. Our students don’t study management in a vacuum; their work is informed and enriched by the courses they study alongside management (in areas like history, art, economics, and foreign languages). And their management courses are also enriched by the perspectives of students from outside the college, as all of our management courses are open to students from any of Bucknell’s three colleges.”
Another differentiator, Alexander adds, is the business school’s signature course, Management 101. A hands-on course par excellence, MGMT 101 students work closely with local organizations, providing over 100,000 service hours over during the past 40 years.
“[This course] challenges first- and second-year students to form their own companies to raise funds in support of a service project,” Alexander explains. It is a model started at Bucknell that’s been emulated by more than a dozen other colleges around the world. [Another example is] our Student Managed Investment Fund course, which entrusts a share of the University’s endowment valued at approximately $2 million to the stewardship of senior students.”
Overall, Alexander considers experiential learning to be the “cornerstone” of the Freeman learning experience. That’s one reason, she says, the school opened a center this past year to spur these “transformative activities.”
“The Freeman College also supports a Center for Experiential Learning that aims to connect students to the real world of organizational management through trips, guest speakers, on-campus events and more. Our Center for Career Advancement also provides a full suite of career advising services, including career counselors with expertise in the fields our students pursue, such as finance…Opportunities like these to experience the full richness of a liberal arts education are a major reason our students are so happy with the academic experience they find here.”
How happy? Among the Class of 2019, 8 of 10 students would recommend the school “without hesitation.” 90% felt the business program had prepared them well for their jobs, with 95% adding that alumni were accessible and willing to connect them with potential employers. Sure enough, Alexander touts the alumni network as a “catalyst” and the school’s “greatest resource” for student success.
“We introduce our students to our passionate alumni community through events such as:
- Our Executive Alumni Mentoring Program, which partners first-year students with experienced mentors at companies including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, and Deloitte. Many of these mentors come from our accomplished alumni community.
- Our annual Business Trends Summit, which brings select alumni back to campus to network with one another and our students as they together explore the latest trends in business and nonprofit management.
- Trips, company visits and other experiential programs that draw on connections to our alumni community to offer our students inside access to top organizations, including in Silicon Valley’s tech industry, the D.C. consulting sector, and the New York finance and art industries.
These are in addition to the many opportunities offered to all business students through Bucknell’s Center for Career Advancement — including assistance in finding internships and programming such as career panels — which also rely on the help of alumni who are eager to help the next generation of Bucknellians succeed.”
Bucknell also maintains an intensive coaching culture, with students being assigned mentors at the faculty, peer student, and alumni levels once they accept the offer. At the business school, the Freeman Fellows program further enriches the academic, professional, and social paths for students.
“[Freeman Fellows] pairs incoming first-year students with mentors from the junior and senior classes before they even set foot on campus. These peer mentors help students acclimate to campus life and offer their own personal experiences with internships, studying abroad and the dozens of other experiential opportunities Freeman College students enjoy.”
This support extends to the faculty and administrative levels, not surprising considering the school’s enviable marks from alumni in academic and career advising.
“At Bucknell, we expect our faculty to be expert scholars and great teachers — and to open the door to students in both aspects of their work,” Alexander adds. “As a small school with a 9:1 student-to-faculty ratio, we know our students by name, and they get to know us as they work alongside us. Those relationships can open doors that take our students to incredible places.”
She cites Yasameen Mohammadi (’20) as one example of this dynamic at work. “Through a Freeman College program…Yasameen became interested in Professor Eric Martin’s work studying the response of international non-governmental organizations to the refugee crisis in Europe. Martin helped connect Yasameen to Save the Children International (whose former CEO is also a Bucknell alumna), and she spent last summer offering support to unaccompanied migrant children in Belgrade, Serbia. Our small size and passionate professors and alumni create amazing experiences like these every year.”