As a student ambassador to the Wisconsin School of Business, I have become the face of the school to most incoming students. The other ambassadors and I give informational sessions, meet with families and answer questions that potential students may have through phone calls and emails.
For a job as demanding as this, knowing everything about the business school, including statistics, requirements and contacts, is a must. But being the face of a school, while it does come with incredibly rewarding experiences and skills (and some cool polos), also means facing students who may not be happy with their results.
When a potential student does not get into the school, they reach out to ambassadors. When a parent becomes angry, looking at the email that says their child did not get accepted, they reach out to ambassadors.
Speaking with these students and their parents about solutions to what they consider the end of their life plans requires ambassadors not only know about other ways to study business, but also have empathy for each student that goes through the process. It requires being able to feel for someone who you’ve never met and probably will never meet in your entire life.
Having empathy also means realizing where students struggle most and trying to help them. In most cases, the business school does a very good job with this. Pre-business advisors, ambassadors and websites filled with information about how to apply all help potential students in making sure they are ready to submit an amazing application.
But after talking to countless potential students, I’ve learned there are areas where the Business School can do a better job in helping students get into the school.
Right now, a student can only apply to the business school if they meet certain requirements. Among those are certain classes — microeconomics, calculus, psychology and communication arts — along with a minimum GPA of 2.75.
All of these requirements are ones that the student has great control over. In most cases, students can easily take the classes that fit the requirements and decide to put in the work necessary to earn a higher GPA.
The one requirement that students cannot control is known as the “86-credit rule.” Essentially, the 86-credit rule means a student cannot apply to the Wisconsin School of Business if they have 86 or more credits completed.
This rule is in place for many reasons, but mainly, between 86 and 120 credits (the requirement to graduate), there is not enough the business school can teach you to prepare you for the business world afterward. Thirty-four credits will not fit the requirements or teach a student everything the business school has to offer.
The issue is that students come in with however many credits they complete in AP scores or from a different university. What this means is that while students can choose to take certain classes to meet the requirements, they can’t choose which credits they want to transfer and may be ineligible to apply due to the credit cap.
For example, a friend of mine came in with around 40 credits from AP scores and from testing out of her Spanish classes. This warranted a huge celebration, as it meant she could brag to her friends that she had sophomore standing. But her celebration ended when she learned that she only had one opportunity to apply to the business school because by the spring of her sophomore year, she would already have over 86 credits.
Suddenly, the ease that comes with knowing students can apply twice to the Wisconsin School of Business (if they don’t get in the first time) didn’t apply to her. She would only have one chance to make it into the school, or her dream of majoring in accounting with a degree from the business school that she had been planning since the early years of high school may be over.
Collin Dott, a sophomore involved in the ASM internship program, actually met with different business students and directors, including Dean Massey, about this issue. His proposal — that only business-related credits count toward the 86-credit-cap, has not been implemented yet but has received positive feedback from a lot of other students and staff in the business school.
This way, a student coming in with six credits in psychology and math and 20 credits in electives, knows only the six credits would count towards the actual credit cap, allowing them to apply a second time if they don’t get in the first. A sophomore, who had recently just developed an interest in business, can rest assured that only their business classes would count towards the credit cap.
There is nothing harder than answering a phone call from an eager transfer student, whose entire life changed when they saw the acceptance letter to the University of Wisconsin, and telling them they are ineligible to apply to the business school because they took too many classes in their previous college.
Even with news that the business school will be accepting more direct admits, though this idea may not be the right solution, the requirement still leaves out those who were not accepted the first time, those who did not apply directly, or those who transferred. Something must change.
Yogev Ben-Yitschak ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in marketing and digital studies.