When Gabriel Correa was getting ready for his first year at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business, he was like almost any incoming freshman: He didn’t know many people, he was nervous about leaving home, and he wasn’t sure if he was prepared for the rigors of a top-notch business school.
Correa, BBA ‘23, took part in the Ross Summer Connection program where he spent four weeks on campus before his freshman year. The program was so impactful, he returned this year as a student mentor.
“I was really inspired by the work my mentors put into making my experience a memorable one, so I wanted to do the same for others coming from similar situations to mine,” he says in blog post about the program. “Here I met some of my best friends that I hold to this day. It also helped me to get used to the intensity that comes with being a student at Michigan Ross.
“More importantly, it introduced me to so many resources and people at Ross that have helped me get the most out of my experience here. For this, I will always be grateful.”
PREPARING NEW STUDENTS FOR THE RIGORS OF B-SCHOOL
Ross Summer Connection began in 2017 after conversations in the dean suite about helping freshmen transition to Ross School of Business, ranked No. 4 in Poets&Quants’ latest undergrad ranking. This spring, its first cohort of students graduated from the undergraduate business school with a 100% graduation rate, says Rhonda Todd, Ross’ director of academic success.
Partnering with the Ross admission office, the program invites students from a variety of backgrounds including those who have participated in other Ross outreach programs such as MReach or the Summer Business academy for high school students. Incoming Students can also reach out to the program directly via the outreach website, says Lauren Clarkson, program officer who has been with Connection since it formed in 2017.
In a typical year, freshmen spend four weeks on campus in the summer before the start of the term, living together in the residence halls, getting guided tours, navigating the various campus eating options (always important to college kids living alone for the first time), and timing their commute to different classrooms on campus. They take introductory classes in core Ross courses such as math, economics and writing, and participate in a case competition. This year’s competition was organized by Zell Lurie Institute.
“I had so much fun brainstorming a product with my group and creating a presentation. I will never forget how happy our group was when it was announced that we won the category of best overall presentation,” Jaden Douglas, BBA ‘25, said in a blog post. “That experience has made me eager to participate in more case competitions at Michigan Ross.”
Throughout the school year, Connection participants have academic coaching for quantitative prerequisites. The program also hosts study tables, mock exams, professional development opportunities, social activities, special speakers from industry partners and more. Students and their mentors check in with each other as needed for extra support.
“We have a wide variety of students that come and it makes for a really fun and interesting couple of weeks together,” Clarkson tells Poets&Quants. “They get to know each other so well that after their first year on campus, they’ll become roommates off campus housing when they’re sophomores and juniors. It’s just really great seeing them grow as a group.”