Mendoza Malcontent: Improving the #1 Undergrad Business Program

The Mendoza College of Business may be the best business school in the nation, but it may not be giving its students all that they need to succeed in specific fields.  

Bloomberg Business Week has ranked the Mendoza the number one undergraduate business school in the nation for five years in a row. Because of this distinction, water bottles, magnets, bumper stickers, fleece hoodies, and other tangible symbols of Mendoza’s success decorate the college’s enrollees. Unfortunately, all of these trappings of success are precluding that fact that in many ways Mendoza must improve to remain a business leader.

Mendoza cannot let years of accolades allow it to become complacent with its graduation requirements and course selection.

In order to remain on the cutting edge of business innovation, and to follow the motto of “Ask More of Business,” Mendoza must ask more of itself. This week, as I stood in line at the Career Fair, trying to sell myself as a “Marketing major” to some company or another, I wondered if I truly am equipped with the skills I need to succeed in today’s fast-paced business world.

Take last semester: I had to write a 30 page group essay for my Consumer Behavior class detailing the research my group did during our semester long project.

Contrast that with the internship I had this summer, where I helped promote my boss’s book “Brief” which focused on how imperative it is in the business world to write short, concise emails and briefings. If you can only hold someone’s attention for 8 seconds, why are students consistently asked to give presentations lasting twenty minutes or more?

There seems to be discrepancies here. 

Fellow Mendoza students, do you agree?

Is the business school truly giving you what you need to succeed, or do you feel a little lost and a whole lot “general” when selling yourself to prospective employers? 

Our system seems to have succeeded thus far; I appreciate the fact that Mendoza seeks to give its students a holistic academic approach. All business majors must take classes in accounting, economics, finance, management, and marketing in order to get a varied picture of the business world. My questioning stems from the fact that after my first accounting class sophomore year, after it became apparent that I was abysmal in accounting, I was still expected to take a second semester of accounting in order to complete my graduation requirements. 

I can assure you that under no circumstances could I ever fool a Deloitte recruiter into thinking that I know anything more advanced about accounting than the fact that things such as “debits” and “credits” exist.

I understand my experiences at Mendoza could be very unique, and that perhaps the fact that at age 21 I know quite specifically what I want to do with my life makes me an outlier. However, rather than these thoughts simply as an indictment of Mendoza, I use this column as a call for Notre Dame students to reflect on their experiences in Mendoza and to question how else the college can improve their undergraduate experience. 

For example, many people do need to try all the different majors before they know what major they want to pursue. However, a compromise for this indecision could be “concentrations” rather than majors, a practice adopted at many other leading universities across the nation.  

Instead of students only taking a one credit course in business ethics, perhaps require more in-depth training in ethical business decisions and practices. 

There are so many solutions to this “Mendoza Malcontent.”

As dialogue between students and the administration becomes even more open, and as the years go on, I hope that Mendoza will not fall into the traps of complacency and "tradition." Right now, one class in public relations isn’t enough to work for Edelman, one class in advertising and promotions won’t land me a job at Ogilvy, and a semester long marketing research project certainly doesn’t qualify me as a “Social Media Manager.”

Moving forward on its path to excellence, the Mendoza College of Business at the Univeristy of Notre Dame needs to continually reassess its requirements, classes, and policies to best arm its students for the skills necessary to enter the job world.


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