This past weekend, the The University of Akron College of Business Administration (CBA) hosted a Deans Open House, put together by the CBA undergraduate department. The event was a part of a schoolwide visit day where any high school senior can register to come visit all of the departments at the University of Akron. They can get a feel for the school and try to decide which departments interest them the most.

The CBA specific Open House had about 80 high school students along with their families preregister for the event. Throughout the CBA, there were tables for all potential majors and the Taylor Institute even made an appearance with its own table to show students all that the Akron business experience can offer. The students met with faculty and staff and got a feel for both the CBA as a whole and specific majors they may have had an interest in, making the overall experience extremely personal.

With the event going on, I couldn’t help remembering my own visit to the University of Akron and the CBA a little bit over three years ago in October 2012. At that point, I was a sophomore in college, looking to make a decision on which school to attend when I transferred from Grove City College. Even as a transfer, my questions probably mirrored those of the high school students this weekend. Will I like the school? Will I enjoy my major and be able to keep up with school and a social life? Can I find a place in a school this big? Can I get to know professors on a personal level? Is there a support system to help me through the huge transition? Will the time and money spent be worth it when I graduate?

Sarah Wright's 2012 visit to The University of Akron
Sarah Wright's 2012 visit to The University of Akron

I remember touring the facilities, meeting with professors and connecting with current students. Hearing what life was like at the university, understanding the projects that students were a part of every semester and seeing what my classes would be like began to help me find the answers to my questions. I started to piece together what the Akron experience would mean to me and whether it was what I was looking for or not. But, the piece that had the biggest impact on me was meeting the professors. Connecting with my future mentors, seeing their passion for the students and observing how much they invest in the school was the number one incentive that brought me to Akron. Little did I know that some of the faculty and staff that I met that day would guide me through my Honors Project, mentor me in academics and even life experiences and make my college experience as wonderful as it was for two and a half years.

Though I was unable to personally attend the event this year, I’m sure that the students in attendance felt the same way. Vanja Djuric, Faculty Member and the Director of Analytics had this to say: “Students that came to the Department of Marketing and the Taylor Institute tables really enjoyed hearing about our past graduates and specifically learning that we graduate students who end up at places such as Google, Rosetta, Uber, Pandora and Smucker’s. As a faculty member there, I had a couple of students and their parents tell me that the highlight of their visit was getting to interact with faculty members, because this really gave them a sense of stability that students will have a support system while at the University of Akron. Overall, the students that came to our tables got to learn more about scholarship opportunities, what they can expect majoring in marketing and what it feels like to be part of the CBA at the University of Akron.”

As a student who attended multiple visits and tours of colleges and universities of all different sizes, locations and focuses, a visit that emphasizes the community of faculty, staff and students stands out above all of the rest. Since that visit, everything I saw in that visit has proven to be even better than expected. Moving from Grove City College to the University of Akron was a huge step, and my college visit was the first step in changing the entire trajectory of my career. As a CBA student, through my education, connections and network at Akron, I had the opportunities to complete a marketing internship with the J.M. Smucker company, create and analyze a market research study for Country Pure Foods as my capstone honors project, joined the American Marketing Association, served as a peer mentor to students from Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates, observed lectures and seminars from leading CEO’s and CMO’s throughout the country and completed marketing projects for Goodyear and Rosetta as a part of my senior level classes. That experience set me up to receive a prestigious Graduate Assistantship while working on my MBA. I consult with companies all across Ohio, using the quantitative and project management skills gained in undergrad every day.

Although my visit to the CBA didn’t give me the answers to all of my questions or set out a specific path through undergrad, it really was the first step. To be perfectly honest, without my visit, I probably never would have chosen the University of Akron and the CBA because I wouldn’t have known what I was missing. I would encourage any and all students to take the opportunity to visit and interact with the professors beforehand. Get a taste of what student life is like here at Akron and take every opportunity to explore the campus, facilities and activities (I even got the VIP treatment at a football game on my visit!). I’m so glad that I did.

By: Sarah Wright, MBA Candidate

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