For the past few months, thousands of undergraduates have had one goal on their mind:
getting into the Robert H. Smith School of Business. With only one shot to apply, current
sophomores are feeling overwhelmed trying to stand out to the review board. But the process has
a secret lesson to be learned that can be easily overlooked.
One the University of Maryland's most highly recognized schools of study, which was
recently ranked #19 in the country according to U.S. News & World Report's 2010 edition, is
also one the most sought destinations for admittance. According to the school's official numbers,
5,633 freshmen applied for fall 2010 admission, 400 were admitted, and 60 more were waitlisted
for the spring. The school likes to have approximately 800 students going into their junior year.
For the class of 2013, that leaves approximately 340 spots up for grabs.
The Limited Enrollment Program (LEP) website for the business school states that
students are strongly encouraged to submit a resume, listing "academic record, co-curricular
involvement, leadership experience and honors and awards." So, as thousands of potential
business majors apply for less than 400 spots, the need to be noticeable is crucial.
Students like James Gray find themselves juggling multiple responsibilities and positions,
all in hopes of catching the attention of those running the application process. Gray is the
president of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), a letters and sciences legislator and athletics liaison for the
Student Government Association, works 20 hours a week in the Office of Registrar and serves on
the Inter-Fraternity Council's executive council.
While Gray says he thinks this makes his resume strong, he winds up feeling
overwhelmed, saying he finds little time for himself. The question, "What did I do today to
increase my chances of getting into the Business School?" is always on his mind.
And while the process of staying ahead of the pack is stressful and overwhelming at
times, there is a purpose, says Brian Horick, the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies at the
"It's important for students to learn how to handle that pressure if they want to be a
business major, because it's competitive in the business world," said Horick.
The pressures of competition are supposed to be a learning experience, in learning how to
plan, how to prioritize and finding a "balance."
"That's what we're hoping this process does," Horick said, "to learn how to handle
competition, to not be afraid of it or get stressed out about it, how to really relish it and learn how
to compete successfully."
While Gray does admit the pressures are stacked against him, he does credit the process
to being helpful.
"It's made me a very efficient person… I've had to learn to deal with the stress and just
get used to my busy schedule. It has actually made my time management skills one of my biggest
assets," said Gray
Those who have gone through it all also agree it has made them more prepared for the
business school environment. Toral Parikh, a finance and economics double major, was recently
accepted before winter break, and completely agrees with Horick and Gray.
"I'm taking six classes this semester, but I can handle it because I've gotten used to
always having something going on," said Parikh.
While learning to cope with stress and handle one's responsibilities are important lessons
to gain, the overall goal of admittance is the main prize, which for Parikh came at an unexpected
"I was going to Guatemala for an alternative break program and my flight had gotten cancelled and postponed. So it worked out really well because Friday night I'm sitting there and
my phone vibrated and I saw on my email ‘Your Business School Application Decision' and my
heart lstopped. But then I found out I got in and I was ecstatic," Parikh said. "It was like a really
big weight off my shoulders."