The moment has come. I have to choose a college. I’ve had my mind made up for a while now, but as the May 1st deadline approaches and my fellow class of 2019 are making their decisions, I thought I’d share my journey.
When I first started seriously thinking about college back in early middle school, I remember sitting on the bus with my iPhone 4 looking up “best universities”. Back then, I thought I wanted to study psychology so I also searched “best psych programs”. I decided that I wanted to go to one of the “best” schools, and my search led me, of course, to the Ivy Leagues. My naïve self decided that if Ivy Leagues are considered the best, I must go there. So, for a few years, I set myself on Yale University.
The idea of Yale stayed in the forefront of my mind until about sophomore year when I joined the Student Expedition Program, a college prep program in Arizona that helps low-income students with the college process. They really opened my eyes to the different types of schools out there, especially the liberal arts. While I still had Yale on my list, my list expanded to include different kinds and sizes of institutions.
As I progressed into my junior year, I had narrowed down my intended major to entrepreneurship. I knew that I wanted to study entrepreneurship, but I wasn’t sure precisely where. I knew that my institution needed to have a good business school, a focus on liberal arts, and an aesthetic campus. I didn’t have a geographic requirement, although I was pretty set on not going on the West Coast.
By the end of junior year as I wrapped up my testing and essays, I had compiled a list of about 15 institutions I intended to apply to. Among that list, though, were three standouts that I wanted above all the others. Those three were Yale (still there, childhood dream I guess), Washington University in St. Louis, and Babson College. I discovered WashU when I went there for a two-week writing course over the summer and fell in love with the campus. I discovered Babson via Google search “best schools for undergraduate entrepreneurship” — Babson was #1.
Senior year came along and I was fortunate to be accepted into several fly-in programs, where the institution funds for you to fly out and spend 1-2 nights there to learn about and experience the college. After going to Franklin & Marshall, Washington & Lee, Babson, and WashU in St. Louis (twice), I started to discover what kind of campus really appealed to me. Babson and WashU proved to be as great as I thought they were and they stayed high on my list. At that point, WashU and Babson were tied for my top choice, Yale being a distant dream I wasn’t placing any bets on (you can’t with those extremely competitive institutions, no matter how good you are).
Application season came around, and I was able to apply early action to Babson College – nonbinding, but able to get your decision earlier. When I found that I had gotten into Babson, my list of 15 or so colleges was reduced to 7: University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Chicago, University of Richmond, and Washington University in St. Louis, Yale and, of course, Babson. I submitted those applications and hoped for the best, taking consolation in the fact that I had a very great, viable option available to me.
When all was said and done, I ended up being admitted to University of Arizona, Arizona State University, University of Richmond, and Babson College. This meant that two out of three of my dream schools were no longer options. Yale wasn’t a surprise, but still sad. WashU, however, hit me pretty hard. I had been flown out there a total of three times and build a great network there. I wasn’t sure which I’d pick if I got into both Babson and WashU, but I was very fond of WashU.
In the end, though, I’m thankful I didn’t have to make that decision; I’m not sure I would have chosen correctly. After going back to Babson College two times now (currently writing on the plane back from a trip there), I don’t think I could be more sure that Babson is the best possible fit for me. Having told you the story of how I got through the admission process, let me tell you why Babson ended up being that good of a fit:
Babson College was established in 1919 and was founded by Roger Babson because he wanted to create a business school that was more catered to teaching both the hard and soft skills of business. He wanted a place to foster not just business building, but the entrepreneurial mindset. So, Babson College is the top school for entrepreneurship and has been named as such for over two decades now.
Babson is different from most institutions, especially business-oriented ones. It takes an experiential approach to learning. The flagship example of this is their required first-year course titled Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME), where every student is involved in the process of creating a business. Each class goes through the ideation phase to create various business ideas that are vetted down to one single idea. Then, the class is given up to about $3,000 to launch that business. It’s not a simulation – it’s a legit business. CEO, CFO, COO, marketing department, the works. The business aims to make back it’s investment, and any profit is given to a charity of their choice. So, by the end of their first year, every Babson student has been involved in the process of starting a business.
Going along with its unique nature, Babson doesn’t have traditional Majors and Minors. Every student at Babson graduates with a BSBA – a bachelor’s in science and business administration. The coursework is broken up 50% business-oriented courses and 50% liberal arts-oriented courses. Students can choose to “concentrate” in an one of their nearly 30 concentrations. I intend to concentrate in organization and strategic management.
While most of you probably haven’t heard of Babson, it’s one of those niche places where those who should know about it, do. Babson students are notorious for working with/for big-name corporations in upper-level positions – especially consulting. Most people in business have probably heard of it. It doesn’t have the recognition of the “Yale” name or the “Harvard” name, but it has the same weight in the hands of the people who matter to these students.
It’s the combination of the experiential learning, the vast network, the small community, the focus on liberal arts, and the beauty and location of the campus that has led me to fall absolutely in love with this institution. Now that all is said and done, I couldn’t imagine or see a better fit for me.
As I mentioned, I was fortunate to come back to Babson two times this spring. The first was for a scholars weekend, where I competed with my cohort who were named Presidential Scholars (a half-tuition merit scholarship) for an even more prestigious scholarship called the Weissman Scholarship. This scholarship is full-tuition, comes with additional seed money to fund experiences and ventures, and is only awarded to 4-5 students each year. I was fortunate to receive this scholarship after an intense day of interviewing.
Then, I was flown out by a program called Matriculate (another college advising program I highly recommend) to be able to visit the campus again, but this time my dad was able to come. I’m currently on the flight back from that trip at the time of writing this, and it was amazing. Within an hour of being on campus, I had seen seven different people I had connected with the previous weekend. I got hugs and congratulations for my scholarship award from some people I didn’t even know! I was fortunate to have my admissions counselor, Hannah, set up a meeting with a professor who happened to be close with the student I did my admissions interview with, and the four of us were able to have coffee and chat for an hour. We were also able to go into Boston (which is only about 30 minutes from campus) to explore. I was able to go to the oldest continuously-running restaurant in America, as well as see the ocean and explore the entire downtown area.
After all these experiences with the college, I am itching to move away in the fall (no offense Tucson fam). I cannot wait. I already feel at home there.
Thank you so much to my teachers, counselors, STEP advisors, Matriculate advisor, parents, family, and friends who have helped me get here. “Here” being able to attend the top school for undergraduate entrepreneurship in the country (maybe even the world) on a full-ride scholarship.
I share this with you to inspire and inform you by telling you my story. Everyone’s story and journey to their college/university will be different. This was my story so far, and I can’t wait to continue it in the fall.