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Too open?

John Cameron | Monday, September 13, 2010

Besides “ethics, ethics, ethics,” there is probably nothing discussed within the Mendoza College of Business (MCOB) than the fact that “we are No. 1.” Naturally, people outside of the university who see BusinessWeek’s ranking probably imagine that the college is especially rigorous and exclusive and that business students are the cream of the crop at the already prestigious University of Notre Dame.

However, the sentiment among students is quite the opposite. It is often assumed that business students either could not handle pre-med or engineering, or that education is only secondary for them, whether it falls after partying, a varsity sport or sleeping.

I believe this thinking is perpetuated, in part, by the fact that Mendoza places no floor for limiting which students can enter the college. If you ask students who have attended the college’s various mandatory events since last spring, they will probably agree that the massive crowds herded into the packed auditoriums left them feeling like “just another business student.”

Students again felt the side effects of overcrowding during the debacle that was DART last spring. Most, if not all rising-sophomore business classes immediately shut out students after filling up and had to be manually overenrolled by Mendoza advisors. Unless the University plans on expanding MCOB in both quantity of classes and professors, I think it is time to consider limiting the number of available seats in the college. 

While I understand and appreciate the MCOB’s commitment to allowing students to pursue whichever academic path they feel drawn to, I still think it is reasonable to set cutoffs. I am not suggesting they simplify the decision with standardized testing or solely consider GPA, nor do I think an elaborate application process is necessary. I believe anyone who put in a reasonable level of effort in FYS, which could be fairly judged by a combination of course rigor and GPA, should certainly be allowed and encouraged to study business at Notre Dame.

Outside of crammed classrooms and inflexible schedules, by allowing overcrowding in the college, MCOB is sending a message to students that whether they put in 100 percent effort throughout freshman year or resell their textbooks in the original packaging, they will still squeeze anyone and everyone into the No. 1 undergraduate business program in the country.

Of course there will be exceptions: obviously freshman engineering or premed courses are especially difficult for most students, and those changing to business should not be penalized for pursuing a challenge. I do not think a GPA defines students nor do I think the college should encourage students to take an easy course load in FYS to secure a high GPA. I simply believe that Mendoza should push students to strive toward the level of effort and to get the results consistent with being a part of the nationally top-ranked business program.

I do not support making cuts as another way for students to feel elite or impressive; rather, it is becoming a practical necessity. A No. 1 ranking is sure to draw even more students to the college, but at some point the open-door policy of the Mendoza College of Business is going to begin taking a toll on the quality of education and graduates that it produces.