In a recent opinion piece published in The Badger Herald, a business school ambassador criticized the school for a policy that is common across the university. The 86-credit cap is not a policy specific to the business school. It is enforced by the colleges of Letters & Science, Engineering and many other programs at the university. If you want to change this policy, you should be lobbying the university.
Second, I think it is unfair to frame the business school in this way. The support we give to pre-business students, as well as admitted students, is unparalleled at other comparable schools. You would be very hard pressed to find a business school in the Midwest that openly supplies career advising, academic advising and membership to business orgs even to students not admitted to the business school.
I agree that the 86-credit rule burdens transfer students. Coming in with too many credits is a common issue students run into. For some, it may be fixable — students have the option to rescind AP credits to free up an opportunity to apply two times to the business school, according to the office of admissions. While not ideal, this is a solution for students not admitted their first attempt and who believe they may exceed 86 credits.
Perhaps even more importantly, there are other avenues to access business resources even without admission to the program. Parallel programs exist for students passionate about any aspect of business, including economics and retail and consumer science, or a certificate in business. Anybody can join organizations and clubs of their interest, from Real Estate Club and Wealth Management Group to Women in Business or a professional business fraternity. Education in the field of business is not confined within the walls of Grainger Hall.
Are there valid critiques we can make about the Wisconsin School of Business? Sure. For example, diversity in our school is notoriously lacking. The high turnover rate in key leadership positions in the business school is also troubling — our last dean served only one semester. Certain courses, such as Management and Human Resources 300 and Business Law 301 are taught inefficiently and in ways that do not lead to effective learning. But attacking the business school for a policy it does not have control over is futile and honestly pushes back the issues the business school really needs to face head-on.
A lot of people broadly criticize the business school for its admissions policies, but I really think the core issue is people feeling they have the right to study in the business school no matter what. This is not true. The Wisconsin School of Business is one of the most competitive and well respected public business schools in the country, and to remain that way we have to set higher and higher standards of who we can admit. In addition, there are diminishing returns to admitting everyone who applies. Class sizes, availability of preferred courses and resource allocation can only permit admissions to a limited number of people.
As former dean François Ortalo-Magné, currently head of the London School of Economics, once explained to me, “the Wisconsin School of Business cannot be everything to everyone.” As the school transitions from a three-year program to a four-year experience, this simple reality will be truer than ever. There is room for reform to better accommodate non-traditional students, but roundly and publicly criticizing the business school is not the answer.
Jeremy Swanson ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in finance and political science. He currently serves as Wisconsin School of Business ASM Student Council Representative.