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First-year files: life at a renowned business school

April 18th, 2023

Finding your perfect college match is no small task. You go on college visits, answer questionnaires, and do as much online research as you can to narrow down choices. Hearing a firsthand account from a current student is always eye-opening. It can really push you to consider factors that may not have crossed your mind before.

In today’s blog post, Zoe, a past Shrop Ed advisee, writes about life as a first-year at Babson College. Babson is a private business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts known globally for its excellence, particularly for its focus on entrepreneurship. Zoe really opens up about her experiences so far, from academic life to social life. We appreciate Zoe’s openness and wish her much continued success in the future.

When I applied to Babson, I did not have any expectation to get in nor to attend. But as I was trying to make my college decision, I ultimately chose Babson for the business focused curriculum, the diverse community, and the unique experiences that I would have, especially in the required first year course, Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME). I was initially quite hesitant, and I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision for me because I don’t consider myself the most creative or as having the “entrepreneurial spirit” that Babson promotes. However, although I have faced challenges, both ones that were expected and unexpected, I have really enjoyed my time at Babson thus far as Babson has provided me first-year experiences that have been unique and eye-opening.

The adjustment to life at any college is challenging, but something that went well for me was stepping outside of my comfort zone. This included small actions like raising my hand more to participate in class and volunteering to present for my group project and also trying new activities like rugby and dancing and, to my surprise, joining a sorority. There have been so many opportunities to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone such as joining clubs and organizations, which I have learned new skills and interests and built new friendships and connections with people I otherwise would not have met. Another thing that has gone well is that I have been able to explore some of Boston. One perk about Babson is that there are no classes on Fridays. These days are typically reserved for internship work for upperclassmen, but as freshmen, we also get the day off. When I have a Friday without meetings or club events, I am able to utilize the Uber program that our student government provides ($15 off a ride to the nearest T station) and take a 30 minute subway ride into the city to walk around and explore.

Although towards the end of first semester and going into second semester I had found close friends, I initially found it difficult to find a group of people who I felt close with. When I arrived to campus, I felt that most people already had people they already knew and friends groups they were already a part of. However, once classes started and I began joining clubs and organizations that I was interested in, I began to find like-minded individuals who have now become some of my close friends. Another situation I found challenging was the amount of group work integrated into the course work, especially in FME. The required first year course runs through both fall and spring semester, and working in groups, students think of, pitch (shark tank style), plan, launch, run, and close a business through three main phases. Businesses range from service businesses like shoe cleaning and transportation to selling physical products such as adhesive pockets that stick to phone cases and hold dorm room keys and ID cards, which my group is doing. Through the three main phases, the size of the teams go from 3-4 to 11-14. Although I already knew group work would be difficult and there would be people who do not contribute, I did not anticipate how difficult it was to navigate communication among so many people and through the differing expectations that everyone has. Working through these obstacles as a project and venture manager has been a huge learning experience, and I feel that I now can be a better group member and group leader in the future.

One thing that surprised me were how many events happen around campus, both student events and professional, business-related events. There are plenty of opportunities to network with business professionals, which can be overwhelming at first because there are so many. There are also many activities going on around campus, which are great ways to interact with classmates outside of class on campus, one of the most popular being the Campus Activities Board’s Bingo nights. Another thing I found surprising was the amount of time I had compared to my high school schedule, especially during the first semester. My schedule has since become more busy, but it was an initial adjustment

with learning how to balance academic responsibilities, going out with friends, and attending events to get involved in school.

Something younger students thinking about Babson College should consider is the school and campus size. Babson is a relatively small school with small class sizes (usually maximum of 40 students in a class) and a small, more isolated campus. This is an advantage because you will form closer connections with your classmates and professors, but class participation is also a large portion of class grades and there is a high degree of emphasis on collaboration and group projects. Additionally, the campus always feels really safe and no school building is more than a 15 minute walk away, but it can begin to feel isolating after a while since the school is located in a residential area of Wellesley (which is why going out to Boston every few weeks is a great way to get a change of scenery).

Another thing to consider is the business focus of the school. Not only are you taking business courses, but the liberal arts courses often include a business aspect by relating the topic to business in some way, shape, or form. Since these classes integrate some sort of business, Babson does not accept many AP credits as they only take a maximum of 4 AP test scores of 4 or 5 and do not accept some of the typical AP tests like biology, chemistry, and physics. This was a bit frustrating at first because I felt that I had made an effort to take these classes throughout high school, but in the end, I realized that taking these classes really prepared me for the vigor and difficulty of these classes and built a strong foundation that I was able to use and build upon.

Ultimately, I feel that Babson has overall been a great fit for me. I have been challenged academically, socially, and from a business standpoint, and I have learned in areas that I have never before. If younger students are interested in pursuing business, I would encourage them to look into Babson as it can provide some unique opportunities to learn and build connections.