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How to Pick a College When You Want to Study Business

The key to being a great Business student is picking a solid college or university to study the field. Here’s a guide on what to look for to find your best fit.

Deciding which colleges to apply to is a struggle that many high school students face. The college you attend is one of the most pivotal choices you’ll make, as it’s critical to both your personal and professional goals. It’s typically recommended that students apply to anywhere from four to 12 colleges. But no college has it all, so you have to do your research to figure out which schools suit your interests best. If you’re interested in Business like me, there are certain things you should look for to find a great school. Here’s what to keep in mind as you search for your best-fit Business program.

Find your specific field

Business is a very broad career field. Within Business, there are a lot of options to major or minor in, such as Accounting, Finance, Management, Hospitality, and Consulting. When creating your college list, it’s important to identify which field you’re particularly interested in and select colleges that offer good programs within that interest. Ideally, a good school will offer courses under all major Business disciplines. Having a variety of options at one college is the best-case scenario; if you’re not sure which field you want to focus on, then a school that offers flexible academic options and allows students to switch majors easily is a great fit. If you want to be an entrepreneur, which is common for many Business students, also make sure to choose a school that has the right resources and mentors to aid your endeavors.

Related: How to Make the Most of an Undergraduate Business Degree

Understand industry locations

Location is another major factor to consider when choosing any college. You want to choose a city (or town near a city) that supports the industry you’re particularly interested in. Within the umbrella of Business, there are a lot of industries to consider pursuing a career in, such as oil, retail, food, tech, health care, insurance, and more. If you have a specific goal for the industry you want to work in, search for colleges in locations that will offer opportunities for internships, networking, and postgrad jobs in that field. Your industry of interest could be a determining factor of you living in a big city with a lot of people or a small town with a close-knit community. Both options have their pros and cons that ought to be considered. 

Look for internship opportunities

Considering that obtaining a bachelor’s degree will take at least four years, you want to choose a college that not only offers the location internships, job shadowing, and rotations you need but also the resources to help you land them. It’s ideal to get experience in college in an industry you see yourself working in once you graduate. This will deepen your educational experience and significantly contribute to your résumé. Future employers will be thrilled to find out you have work experience and accomplishments outside of the classroom, but you need the right school to help you attain that experience. Be sure to inquire about the career center, internship programs, and other resources that can help you succeed.

Related: 7 Insider Tips for Finding a Great Internship

Research school statistics

When researching colleges, look into stats about students who have already graduated and their success rates. Most schools publish data such as job placement rates or median salaries of recent graduates. Students may even share testimonies on how well their college prepared them for their current job. Look into the strength of any school’s alumni network as well as the faculty and their accomplishments. A good Business program will attract professors and researchers that are highly talented and qualified in a variety of areas. Also research student-faculty ratios to find schools that best suit your learning style and preferences. 

Colleges with great Business programs 

Not sure where to start your search? Some of the best schools in the United States to study Business include:

  • Duke University: Undergraduate major in Economics, plus minors/concentrations in Economics or Finance as well as an undergraduate certificate in Markets and Management Studies; Business Analytics, various master’s, MBA programs, PhD, Executive Education, and other graduate options through the Fuqua School of Business

 Connect me with Duke!

  • Harvard University: Business Administration & Management, Economics, and Statistics for undergraduates; MBA, PhD, Executive Education, online certificate programs, and more for grad students through Harvard Business School
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Bachelor’s degrees in Management, Business, Analytics, and Finance as well as master’s, PhD, and non-degree programs for grad students through the Sloan School of Management
  • New York University: Undergraduate programs (Business; Business & Political Economy; and Business, Technology & Entrepreneurship), plus dual degrees, MBA, master’s, PhD, certificates, and Executive Education through the Stern School of Business

Connect me with NYU!

  • Stanford University: Undergraduate programs in Economics, Management Science & Engineering, Statistics, and more; MBA, Executive Education, PhD, Stanford MSx (one-year master’s), and online programs through the Graduate School of Business

Connect me with Stanford!

  • University of California, Berkeley: Undergraduate programs in Business Administration; Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology; Global Management; and Life Sciences, Business & Entrepreneurship, plus MBA, Master of Financial Engineering, and Executive Education through the Haas School of Business
  • University of Chicago: Trott Business Program, Chicago Booth Scholars Program, and an undergraduate degree in Economics with a specialization in Business; MBA and doctorate programs through the Chicago Booth School of Business

Connect me with UChicago!

  • University of Pennsylvania: Undergraduate programs in Economics, International Studies & Business, Management & Technology, Life Sciences & Management, and Nursing & Health Care Management, plus dual-degree, MBA, doctoral, Executive Education, global, and interdisciplinary programs through the Wharton School
  • University of Michigan–Ann Arbor: Bachelor of Business Administration, minors in Business or Entrepreneurship, MBA programs, one-year master’s, PhD, and Executive Education through the Ross School of Business

Most schools, including these ones, post contact information on their websites for you to ask questions and offer virtual tours to aid you in finding the right school and making your final decision.

Related: All the Facts You Need to Find Out About Colleges

Don’t procrastinate on making your college list. Unless they offer rolling admission, colleges and universities have very strict deadlines—and even then, they may have preferred dates or scholarships that are first come, first served. These deadlines are posted beforehand so you can plan well in advance and expedite a great application. Get started during the summer before the busy school year; you need as much time as possible for college visits, standardized tests, recommendation letters, and essays. With all this advice in mind, you can get the ball rolling on finding an amazing Business school. It’s a long process but very doable. Good luck!

Keep building your list and discover great schools across the country with our featured Business colleges.

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