A Random Walk Through The BSchool
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A Random Walk Through The BSchool

Otherwise known as "the scariest place on campus."

A Random Walk Through The BSchool
Troy Springer

The Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond is traditionally a top-ranked undergraduate business program attached to a small, private liberal arts school. In many ways this "professional" school tucked away in the corner of a liberal arts school is an anomaly, but it is also something that makes Richmond unique. Depending on the year and source (all highly subjective) you will find Richmond ranked in or near the top 25 of liberal arts schools. But what you will not find at any of those schools, is a professional school like the Robins School of Business.

This dynamic can sometimes create a bit of animosity or rivalry among the liberal arts schools that make up Richmond (Jepson Leadership School and the College of Arts and Sciences) and the Business School. You may walk through campus and hear a liberal arts student describe the business school as cold and pretentious. A business student might joke that the history, English, and leadership major won't be able to find a job. As both a business school student and a leadership student in the Jepson school I see both sides of the equation (or balance sheet, if you will) that make up the University of Richmond. I think it is important to take classes that teach you the most about fields or areas of study you are most interested in. The farther I have gone in college, the more I have realized that it is less about what words it says on your degree but more about how great a wealth of knowledge you have accumulated. Ultimately, some of the stigmas and social institutions that are present in the business school are ultimately prohibitive to learning, and the mission of a "liberal arts" school.

So in the spirit of the classic business book, "A Random Walk Down Wall St.", let's take a random walk through the bschool:

The business school is the most newly renovated and perhaps impressive out of all academic buildings. You open the doors during peak hours and enter a busy atrium with students accompanying modern lounge style furniture. People are generally dressed a little nicer than you would find in some of the other schools. Take a seat down in one of the lounge areas, and you may start to get a few looks from fraternity brothers that generally occupy that space. Uncomfortable, you keep moving a notice a few more areas that, after a couple of years of observation, you can come to tell are held by particular groups of boys.

There is an impressive looking monitor flashing the latest index and stock prices of the day above a high-tech looking computer lab. There is a keypad on the door and you're not sure if it is locked or if you need certain credentials to enter. Once you muster up enough confidence to enter you find the room to be dimly lit. I can say after multiple visits that roughly only one of every ten people in that room are female.

The final place you reach in your walk is a more open area with a small soup/sandwich shop. The tables surrounding the shop are occupied primarily by girls and you'd be lucky to get a seat. If this is your first journey through the bschool you may leave intimidated and perhaps a little uncomfortable. Maybe you really were not that interested in learning about stocks, or the economy, or how to take a product to market after all. It all seems a little over your head. "Maybe I'll just leave it to the impressive looking people I saw there" you may say to yourself.

I am here to say, Emperor, you have no clothes. You don't think you're cut out for business? That's bunk. Everyone is a part of the economy and everyone makes business decisions every day. Much of studying business is just understanding terms and theories that describe our behavior. I believe there is a fundamental problem with the perception of business and how people studying business behave. Business should be much less about intimidation and exclusivity. It should be less about good ole boy social groups. At the end of the day, what makes markets work are educated people who understand how to create wealth and value.

If you are familiar with the social dynamic in bschool, you should find this image amusing:

Take an experience I had with student investment group, "Gateway Capital Managment." Fancy name, nice logo. I applied, didn't even get an interview-- was not a part of their social network. A year later, I get paid to write for a financial news site, and by the way, manage more of my own personal money than their "fund" is worth. Point being is that this elitist mentality that is a characteristic of business is often nothing more than a facade. I would argue that studying the liberal arts and understanding how people behave will make you just as great of a businessman or women as those who study "business" and wear suits.

I don't want to imply that everyone should be business majors-- that is far from the truth. I just want people to understand that "business", this extremely broad word, is open to everyone. You can manage your own money, you can build you own business, and you can sit damn well where you want to sit. If you feel like you do not belong, show them how it is done, you can only hide behind a fancy suit for so long.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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