Following from my previous post about ways to prepare for an undergraduate degree in engineering, this post will focus on ways for high school students to prepare themselves to be strong candidates for top undergraduate business schools in the US.
The first things students need to consider is whether an undergraduate business major is the right choice for them. In the US, it is very common for students to attend an undergraduate college or university and major in a broad range of subjects, from philosophy to economics, English to physics, and then go on to work in business. For many of these graduates, after working for a few years, they will decide to pursue and MBA degree in order to increase their knowledge of business topics. This means that for students interested in a career in business, pursuing an undergraduate degree in business is not obligatory. However, for students with a real passion for business, who want to have solid skills in finance, management, strategy, etc., focusing on an undergraduate business degree can be the right choice.
For students intending to pursue this path, undergraduate business programs are looking for students who have demonstrated their strong interest in business during high school. In order to do this, consider the following suggestions:
1. Select business-related courses – Take the most academically rigorous courses you can do well in in fields of math, statistics, business studies, and economics. Doing well in these courses (and taking them at AP or HL) will demonstrate to colleges that you will be able to handle rigorous courses in these fields at the college level.
2. Develop leadership skills – Top colleges like to see leadership among all applicants, but this is especially crucial for business schools. They want to see students who are willing to go after leadership roles, and once in those roles, do more than was done previously. This means not just doing the “status quo” as a leader, but also thinking about ways to make the club, event, etc. better than it was before.
3. Think about careers you are most interested in – and find ways to demonstrate that interest. Having an idea of specific fields of interest (and having researched/ experienced these) will help you differentiate yourself from other applicants, since you will be able to intelligently communicate this interest on your applications.
4. Pursue internship opportunities – Once you have identified career interests, find ways to experience those interests via internships or job shadowing. These can be over the summer, during school breaks, or during the school year. These internships don’t have to be with large corporations or extremely formal. It’s more important to get practical experience in order to understand if a specific career is something of interest.