The Way I See It

Honorable Mention: Life in the BHP

Google Calendar is Joshua Hu’s “best friend.” The third-year student is enrolled in both the Business Honors Program (BHP) and the MPA program. He is the president of the Asian Business Students Association, an active member of the Undergraduate Business Council, and a student recruiter for BHP. His intramural basketball team, the Basket Brawlers, will play for the third season this spring.

BHP students in the board room of Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta, Ga.

He spent last summer as the Leadership Operations intern at Amazon, and will intern with General Electric this summer in Connecticut.

Hu’s combination of academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, and leadership skills is the trifecta that defines a BHP student.

In an already competitive, top-ranked business school, BHP is even tougher to get into. In 2012, 1,061 students applied, and only 235 were accepted. The average SAT score for the admitted class was 1480, and the average high school class rank was the top 2.1 percent, more than twice the already staggeringly exclusive 5.7 percent average rank of the broader BBA freshman class.

And once students enroll, there’s lots of work ahead, both inside and outside the classroom. But BHP students say it’s worth the effort.

“It takes a lot of self-control, “ Hu says, “because you have to lay out your schedule and always make school a priority because you’re in college for a reason.”

BHP is both a major and an honors program, modeled after case-based MBA programs. Students have access to smaller classes, an accelerated curriculum, top professors, and an Honors Lyceum that brings in business leaders as guest speakers. BHP also offers hands-on academic boot camps, a peer tutor database, and case preparation workshops led by MBA faculty.

Robert Prentice is the associate chairman of the Business, Government and Society department as well as the faculty director for the Business Honors Program.

He says that, like Hu, most of the students in the program have a second major, whether it’s another business major, or something outside McCombs such as Spanish or engineering.

Prentice believes that while the program encourages students to get involved around campus and explore their academic options, the students that BHP recruits and admits are the type of students who seek leadership opportunities on their own, as well.

“We select students that have demonstrated good leadership in high school and we give them as many opportunities to hone those skills with the notion that when they go out in the real world, they’ll be able to make a difference,” Prentice says. “Our kids like to make a difference. They like to make BHP a better program, they like to make McCombs a better school, and make UT a better university, and make Austin a better place to live, and we’re really proud of that.”

Justine Taylor-Raymond, a senior BHP and finance major, says she sought to be admitted to the program as a sophomore because she wanted a challenging academic environment.

“It’s much more about coming to the answers through cases and examples, and the tests are just that extra level beyond,” she says.

Like Hu, Taylor-Raymond is a leader in several organizations. She is the corporate relations vice president for the Honors Business Association and the scholarship and service chair for the Orange Jackets, an honorary service student organization.  She also acts as a peer mentor for incoming BHP freshmen and is an active member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority.

Keeping up with all that takes a “mildly color coded” planner and a love for each organization.

All that work pays off. BHP students have a near-100 percent job placement rate upon graduation, and last year earned the highest average starting salary—$63, 144—of all majors.

Prentice says that recruiters frequently reach out to the program because of its reputation for producing hardworking and successful employees.

Hu believes that his experience in BHP has enhanced his college experience and prepared him for future success.

“The skills that are emphasized in BHP, like presenting and teamwork, will definitely be applicable in the future, no matter what career I do,” Hu says. “A lot of the classes within BHP teach you how to think by analyzing cases and thinking outside of the box. In the workplace, not everything will come to you easily. You have to make tough decisions, think about things, and work through a lot of problems, and BHP really prepares you for that future career.”

In addition to career preparation, Hu says BHP offers him the opportunity to work with a community of highly motivated students and friends. Taylor-Raymond agrees, and says that that joining BHP helped define her time at UT.

“BHP has probably been my favorite thing at UT,” Taylor-Raymond says. “The people I’ve met and the connections I’ve made are with some of the strongest people here, and I can already feel that I’ve benefited from my experiences inside and outside of the classroom. BHP has been fun, challenging, and rewarding.”

Reposted from McCombs Today