During a summer tax internship at PwC, Dominique Balzora-Rivert was surprised to find that many of her fellow interns had never heard of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a 2018 Supreme Court decision that affected state sales taxes. It was a case her professors at Bentley University had brought up many times.
“That’s when I realized Bentley was really preparing me for the world,” says the recent grad in accounting and health and industry studies from Templeton, Massachusetts.
Bentley was founded a little more than a century ago to educate students in accounting and finance, and distinguishes itself with its business-focused curriculum that also integrates tech and the arts and sciences. Half of the school’s 25 undergraduate majors are business-related, and there’s a heavy focus on career preparation. During freshman year, nearly all students take Career Development 101.
“As soon as you come here, they teach you how to network,” says Brandon Samba, a 2020 finance grad from San Diego with a global management minor. He put those skills to use as the founder of Captains of Capital, a club that teaches financial literacy to local kids from underserved backgrounds.
Bentley’s 163-acre campus of brick buildings and picturesque green spaces is located in Waltham, a suburb with its own shops and restaurants about 10 miles from downtown Boston that is also home to Brandeis University. About 92% of undergrads complete at least one internship, often in the city, and 98% of students are in jobs or pursuing grad school by six months after graduation. Popular employers include Dunkin’ Brands, JPMorgan Chase, the Boston Red Sox and Aetna.
While most of Bentley’s undergrads pursue business disciplines, many credit the school with seamlessly blending business with other subjects. Pursuing one of eight Liberal Studies majors – such as diversity and society, health and industry, or quantitative perspectives – is a popular route. Some 42% of students study abroad, and many get involved in service learning at more than 60 community partner sites.
“No matter what, you’re going to have some fusion of business and liberal arts and sciences,” says senior Emily Miga of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, who wanted to blend her passions in business and creative writing and settled on a degree in marketing.
Students note that professors often bring real-world experience and a business perspective into discussions, enhancing classes like Disabilities in Society and Managing a Diverse Workplace. Miga recalls a history class on World War II that focused on how the war affected businesses.
Bentley also offers an honors program that provides students with research funding and small seminar-style classes, as well as a Women’s Leadership Program that grants $10,000 in tuition for all four years to all women accepted to it. About 40% of students are women.
Among the other real-world learning elements: a trading room with real-time stock market data and the CIS Sandbox, where tech-savvy undergrads build mobile apps, design video games and collaborate on projects. A user-experience lab enables groups to improve the usability of tech products.
Students can choose from more than 100 organizations, and they look forward to Spring Day, the Saturday before finals when instead of studying, everyone gathers to enjoy food trucks, activities and a concert. Recent performers: Jason Derulo, T-Pain and Ludacris.
The Falcons compete in 20 Division II sports – hockey is Division I – and several club and intramural sports are offered. About 1 in 10 undergrads participate in Greek life.
The vibe at Bentley is collaborative rather than competitive, students say. “It’s an environment where you can find your passion,” says Balzora-Rivert, who plans on returning to PwC after graduation.
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This story is excerpted from the U.S. News “Best Colleges 2021” guidebook, which features in-depth articles, rankings and data.
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