Michael - University of Maryland - Class of 2014

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My scholarship made UMD even more attractive as a great school for a small price. I'll pay the same in four years as some friends pay in one.

I am very excited about a career as an entrepreneur, so I searched for college business schools with strong undergraduate programs. I studied Business Week's list of top business schools and selected some of those schools for my application list.

Hometown: Baltimore MD

High School: Private

GPA: 4.2 (weighted)

SAT: 2160

ACT: 32

Major: Finance and marketing (formerly business)

Goal: Work in finance, then start a business

College

Status

University of Maryland Attending
Babson CollegeAccepted
Emory University Accepted
University of Pennsylvania (ED)Denied
University of Virginia Denied
Washington University in St. Louis Accepted
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteAccepted
Freshman Year Update

I really love the size of UMD, and though some may think it's too big, it really isn't. I can get across campus in 15-20 minutes. The living and learning aspect of the Honors College is great because I know everyone on my floor and thus social life is a lot easier. Also, I share classes with a lot of the kids in my program so we can study together. I really love how close the school is to Washington D.C. (just a quick Metro ride away). And I actually like that it is close to home. I can go home with relative ease and see my friends who are there.

Sophomore Year Update

My sophomore year has been great so far. Joining a fraternity has introduced me to a ton of new friends throughout Maryland. I've declared my major (double in finance and marketing) and begun a minor in technology entrepreneurship. I still love this school since I am paying much less than nearly all of my friends, and I like what I am studying. My career goals have shifted from starting a business immediately after I graduate to working in the finance industry and saving enough money to start a business later.

Going into business

I looked for business schools whose undergraduates had high average starting salaries, high job placement ratings, and good student/teacher ratios. I also looked for a strong reputation in entrepreneurship and marketing. I wanted schools with some prestige, such as Wharton. I avoided schools that were too technical for me such as Carnegie Mellon or MIT, and gravitated towards schools that would provide a good social life and were relatively close to where I live. I also didn't want a school that was huge. In the end, however, I was more than willing to give up any of these qualities in order to get into a good business program.

A great program at a great price

My early rejection from Penn's Wharton School was hugely disappointing. However, I reminded myself that Wharton has one of the hardest programs in the world to get into and that I shouldn't beat myself up over it. I also realized that Wharton's prestige had dazzled me, and I had not really considered how well it fit my goals. Most of its graduates focus on finance and go straight to Wall Street, which was not what I wanted. So I was able to get over it quickly.

I chose University of Maryland because I was accepted into its Entrepreneurship and Innovation Honors Program, which is exactly where I wanted to be if Wharton didn't work out. Over two years, students learn how to run technology startup companies and create their own businesses. The program is also a living and learning program, meaning that all 140 freshman and sophomores in the program live in the same dorm so that they are around like-minded people at all times.

The price tag helped too. Even without the scholarship they offered me, it is still the cheapest school among my choices because of in-state tuition. The scholarship just made it even more attractive as a great school for a small price.

My ups and downs

I was accepted into UMD's general honors program, but I wanted to attend the honors program that was specifically focused on business. So I sent them my first semester senior grades and highlighted parts in my resume, such as the small businesses I have started and the business-related extra curricular activities I participated in. That did the trick.

The hardest part was accepting UMD as my school. Prestige was very important to me, so going to a public college was hard to accept. But I realized I'm paying the same amount in four years as some of my friends are paying in one. I am also attending the most prestigious undergraduate program at UMD.

What I learned

When it comes to Ivy League schools and big-name schools, it seems like grades really matter just to get you into the final selection pool. I wish I had worked harder to get top grades starting my freshman year.

I would advise future college applicants to not put all their eggs in one basket. I would've been stuck and stressed once I got denied by Penn if I did not have the options of going to UMD or Emory.

The money factor

I have a $5,000 per year scholarship and my family can afford the rest (which is only about $15,000 more).

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