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More Than Business at Babson

Babson's undergrads get business degrees, but half of the curriculum is devoted to liberal arts

If you're not serious about business, don't apply to Babson College. The school, located in the Boston area, is a business-management school that offers Bachelor's of Science degrees in the field.

Though it might be difficult to commit to a particular field in high school, potential Babson freshmen are able to do it. Many have had successful businesspeople in their families, joined career-related clubs in high school, and taken advanced placement classes in economics or a related field, says Grant Gosselin, dean of undergraduate admission at Babson.

Gosselin is relatively new to his position—he started on Oct. 15 of this year. Before that, he worked in an associate role in admissions at Babson and at Boston College. He also earned both degrees—undergraduate and a Master's in Higher Education Administration—from Boston College.

Gosselin recently spoke to reporter Julie Gordon about Babson admissions. Here's an edited portion of their discussion.

How does being a business-focused college affect the application process and type of student who applies?

We're definitely looking for a very specific student. And that's our challenge—to find students that aren't only academically stellar but are certain that they want a degree in business. We at Babson are very concerned about making sure that students are equally prepared for their careers through an understanding of the liberal arts (see, 4/26/06, "A Liberal Take on Hiring"). Half of our curriculum is actually liberal arts-based, so [another] big challenge is getting the message out that while the degrees that students earn from Babson are business degrees, the curriculum is 50-50.

How do you get that message out?

In our marketing, we're really trying to encourage students to look at not only the business skills that they're learning and how they would be applicable for their careers, but also that the liberal arts are often going to give them what they need to understand people from different backgrounds and understand different cultures and different political situations in the countries in which they might do business (see, 4/26/06, "Memo to Students: Writing Skills Matter").

Besides having strong drive and focus, what other qualities do Babson applicants share?

We're looking for students that not only succeed academically but have shown leadership skills in their high schools or their communities, and they've shown that they're able to see the bigger picture when it comes to how these things play into their development as young people.

Babson has a strong entrepreneurship focus. Do students ever come in with entrepreneurship experience?

Absolutely. A lot of them have started their own businesses. We have students that have done everything from e-commerce businesses to lawn care and snow removal businesses to a number of things in their local communities. And that's definitely something that we look at. We also give them an opportunity to apply for a specific scholarship—our Blank Scholarship. Arthur Blank, who's the founder of Home Depot (HD) and the owner of the Atlanta Falcons, is an alum and has a scholarship in his name.

What's the average GPA and SAT score for incoming students?

Most of our students are about B-plus, A-minus students in the classroom in the most challenging curriculums they can take advantage of. [For SAT score,] the middle 50% range of admitted students last year was between 1780 and 2050.

What weight is given to each admissions factor—grades, GPA, activities, etc.?

Overall, the most important piece of an application would be a transcript from high school because it gives us a four-year indication of their success and progression over time. The essay is really important to us. We ask our students not only to complete the common application essay but our supplemental essay asks them to write a letter to their freshman roommate, which I think tells us a lot about them and what's important to them. It really allows us to get to know them in a different way.

What types of classes should students take in high school?

We really like to see students balance their curriculums (see, 10/8/06, "Staying Student-Centric at Babson"). First and foremost we're always looking at their quantitative backgrounds. So students that have taken calculus in high school are in a very good position. Pre-calculus really needs to be at a minimum because they will be taking calculus when they get there.

But after that, we aren't really looking at students focusing on one particular area. We prefer to see that they spread out their curriculum, and because again so much of our curriculum is going to be liberal arts-based, we do need to make sure that they're strong in those other areas.

How about foreign language?

It's definitely something that we would consider to be important. When we talk to recruiters, they constantly tell us that having a knowledge of a second or a third or fourth language is really going to set them apart in the job search.

We have a student body that's almost 20% international. There are actually 30 languages spoken right here on campus. So when they get here, having that knowledge of language really helps them socially as well as in the classroom.

Is there much interaction between American and international students?

Very much so. When our students come, they get excited about getting to know one another, because they know that 20 years from now when they're trying to close a business deal, having that connection in Brazil or India is going to possibly help them to make their mark.

How important are on-campus interviews?

They're important. We encourage students who are looking not only to tell us more about themselves but to learn more about Babson. We think it's a great opportunity for students to have an exchange with a professional here on campus or an alum in their community.

If a student is on campus, how can he make the most of the visit? (See, "Undergrad School Tours.")

Talking to our students is always a very helpful way to learn about the culture of an institution. You can learn as much as you want through books and brochures and admission presentations, but I'm always of the belief that our students tell the whole story on a day-to-day basis.

We don't see this campus at certain hours of the day or certain hours of the night. So a current student can give a prospective student a good idea about the academic and social culture of the campus.

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