The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business wants to change the way that undergraduate students think about the formative years of their careers.
The school now offers a Future-Year Scholars Program, which encourages students to apply to business school at the end of their senior year.
The application process for these students is the same as the full-time MBA process, including undergraduate grades, internship experience, and community involvement. Admitted students will have the option to enroll after completing two, three, or four years of work experience.
“We are really hoping students are encouraged to take more risks. Today's college student feels a great deal of pressure to figure out their career path during their last year of college. We are hoping that this program will alleviate some of that pressure and encourage students to step out into the professional world with confidence, seeking an experience that is going to inform the next steps in their career path,” said Katherine Alford, Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Darden.
Darden will encourage admitted students to attend alumni and networking events, but students will not be required to reapply for the MBA program. Once admitted in the Future-Year Scholar’s Program, they will be able to enroll anytime in the two- to four-year window when they feel ready to go back to class.
All that will be required is a supplemental application which includes an updated resume, an updated letter of recommendation, and an updated career goals essay.
To attract prospective students, Darden's MBA team is travelling to college campuses talking to current students about the program and application process. Darden also coordinates an annual mentoring program pairing UVA undergraduates with current students to explore career options.
“Studies show that those in the test-taking mode perform better than those who have been working, so it’s a great time to be encouraging students to take their GMAT or GRE.”
As far as Darden is concerned, this is a quest to find top talent.
“Our goal is twofold: to educate college students about the value of the MBA degree and to tell them about the Darden program,” she said.
There are plenty of benefits to applying for the Future-Year Scholars Program. In addition to an offer of admission to one of the country’s top MBA programs, students will receive an annual $15,000 scholarship (in addition to needs-based or merit-based scholarship) and access to the alumni network, including a designated alumni mentor and career coach.
It’s also a remarkable opportunity for students to ‘explore’ in their careers and truly find a career path where they will excel.
“There is a countless number of entry-level positions that can add value to a young professional's career, and, in turn, the MBA classroom. Hopefully, this program will encourage students to work for a non-profit, start a company, or work for a Fortune 500 company. The opportunities are endless,” said Alford.
“At the end of the day, those experiences are going to add that much more value to our case-based classroom.”