An Upper-Class Program

Most students apply for Emory's undergrad business program as sophomores and enter as juniors. Here's more on what it takes to get in

Administrators at Emory University's Goizueta Business School's undergraduate program are hoping the school's MBA legacy of leadership training will rub off on them, says Libby Egnor, associate director of the BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) program. The school recently held its sixth annual leadership conference, and more than 100 students from the top 30 undergraduate business schools attended the 2 1/2-day event.

The student-run conference has featured keynote speakers like Robert (Bob) L. Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot (HD) and Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks (SBUX). Most students enter the BBA program as juniors, but Goizueta's Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference is just one of the many opportunities freshmen will have to flex their leadership muscles.

Egnor has been the associate director of the BBA program for six years. Before that, she was the associate director of Emory's Center for International Programs Abroad for 4 1/2 years. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek intern Helena Oh. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

When do students apply?

As freshmen, they apply to Emory College, and then sometime in their sophomore year they apply to the business school. Most apply during the second semester of their sophomore year and enter as juniors.

What is your acceptance rate?

Eighty percent. It's high because applicants are pre-screened by Emory, and anyone who crosses that threshold is probably smart enough to get into the business school. On average, I would say we get about 310 to 320 applicants over the course of a year, and we end up having about 270 in a class.

What does the application entail?

The application includes a letter of recommendation from a faculty member. Students can also submit supplemental recommendations from a coach or employer, but we must have a faculty recommendation. And for this year's essay, applicants had to complete the sentence "When I think of myself, I always..." in about 250 words.

Any tips for answering the essay?

It's a chance for students to show off their personality. They don't necessarily have to write about why they want to go into business, and some of the best essays I've read actually don't [go into that].

Should prospective students indicate their interest in Goizueta when they first apply to Emory?

Not at all. That's totally optional. Undecided is the most popular major for freshmen.

Do you offer interviews?

We require interviews for all transfer students, and we're happy to do phone interviews for them. In general, for other applicants, we offer interviews if something on the transcript needs further explanation. But we will also grant an interview if a student wants it.

Any interview tips?

Just don't think about it too much; come and answer the questions honestly and openly.

Do you look at standardized test scores?

We would probably only look at them if the admissions decision is in question. They probably couldn't hurt your chance, but they might help.

How important is GPA?

GPA is important. That and the completion of the prerequisite courses are probably the two most important criteria.

What are some other examples of leadership opportunities?

We have a number of clubs: entrepreneurial, real estate, investment, marketing, communications, and volunteer clubs. They all afford students opportunities to get involved and take on leadership roles to plan service projects and workshops.

How many Goizueta students have a dual major?

About 25% of students take on a double major or minor, so it's possible. In high school, if you have an inclination toward something, you don't have to commit to it as a freshman. But you can plan your classes so that the door remains open. You should really try to meet with an adviser in that area of study because you can pursue everything you want with careful planning and some forethought.

Is it easier for students in the undergraduate business program to get into Goizueta's MBA program?

They've already taken the core business courses our MBA program looks for, and that's a real advantage. I think our students have an easier time getting accepted because they're fully qualified. If a Goizueta undergraduate student has a strong GMAT score with lower grades, the student's application would still receive additional consideration.

How would you advise a student deciding between studying economics and applying to your program?

I always tell students they need to think about how they like to work. If you like being hands-on and seeing concepts in action, you're going to enjoy business classes. If you like theory and looking at the global system, maybe economics is for you. Many students do both.

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