The Newest Wisconsin Advantage
In 2013, the BBA Program at the Wisconsin School of Business decided to expand its recruiting efforts in an innovative way. Rather than hire an outside professional to advocate for the Wisconsin BBA Program, the WSB turned to a group of people who know what it means to be a Business Badger better than anyone else—the students themselves.
“The BBA Program was growing significantly in numbers and interest, and we felt that we had the talent necessary to start a student-centered recruiting initiative,” says Steve Schroeder, assistant dean of the School’s BBA Program. “The students were ready to lead and participate. They simply needed the invitation.”
The BBA office recruited a diverse, talented group of current Wisconsin BBA students to help create personal connections with prospective students by answering questions and hosting campus meetings. They are called the BBA Ambassadors and are charged with representing the Business Badger community in its recruiting efforts.
“The students call prospective families, host one-on-one visits in Grainger Hall, attend on-campus recruitment events in coordination and partnership with UW Admissions, and send updates and information to our prospective students,” says Schroeder. “They have incredible amounts of family contact, send regular updates about our program, and control an intricate recruitment system from within our office.”
What are the results of this innovative peer-to-peer marketing effort? Nothing less than amazing. In Fall 2012, the Wisconsin BBA Program admitted 40 high-achieving high school seniors through its direct admit program. Thanks in part to the BBA Ambassadors, this number will triple to 120 students for Fall 2015 enrollment.
Thanks to the BBA Ambassadors,
the number of direct admits from high school will
for Fall 2015
“The ability, willingness, and interest of the ambassadors to help our program continues to impress me,” says Schroeder “They set the bar very high, and this program will sustain momentum because of these students.”
We sat down with several BBA Ambassadors to get their perspective on the current state of the BBA Program and find out what makes them such authentic and committed recruiters for our community of Business Badgers.
Q: What did you think of the Wisconsin School of Business before you arrived here?
Noe Vital Jr. (BBA ’15): I grew up in inner-city Milwaukee, where it was an achievement to make it out of high school. But I had a coach who came to me and said, “Hey, you have the grades. You should start considering where you should go to college.” I never imagined that it was possible, but then I started to really think about it. My first time here at Madison, just being out on the terrace, I felt like this was the perfect college town, the perfect place to be for the next four, five years of my life.
Vanessa Mariscal (BBA ’15): I was intimidated. My parents didn’t go to college, and I was the first one in my family to come, but there is a great support system here, and you do find your footing very quickly. The community here is incredibly tight-knit.
Q: What motivated you to become a BBA Ambassador?
David Baker (BBA ’15): I came from a smaller school, and I didn’t know much about the Wisconsin School of Business. I wish I could have gotten more information in a more comfortable way, not by talking to someone whose job is to recruit kids. That fueled my interest right from the get-go.
Vanessa Mariscal (BBA ’15): When I thought back to when I applied to college, what really made me want to choose a college were those first experiences with the students who were giving a campus tour. I leaned on them for answers, and now it’s great to be a resource to students. It’s a very rewarding process.
Q: Is there any experience that you’ve had while working as a BBA Ambassador that really stands out and makes you feel good about doing what you’re doing?
Anthony Wright (BBA ’15): We went to Milwaukee for Wisconsin Experience Day, and there was a mom and a daughter who were interested in the Wisconsin School of Business. I noticed that the daughter looked like she needed support, so I pulled the mom aside and told her about our resources available for helping students through difficult times. She said, “I really appreciate this, thank you.” I think that if there are struggles in your life, you need to get help or your academic performance will suffer. I’m glad that I got the chance to make a difference in someone’s life.
Colin Lindquist (BBA ’15): Any time I get positive feedback from a family or a student who visited-whether they email me or just the BBA Ambassador account-saying, “You made this experience 10 times better than it would have been without you. You were incredibly helpful.” That’s definitely the best part of the job.
Q: How would you describe the community at the Wisconsin School of Business?
Amy Walsh (BBA ’16): The entire BBA Program is only two thousand and some students. You can go into the library and know half the kids there and be able to study together and ask questions. It seems like everywhere you go, you can find a friend to just chit-chat for 10 minutes. It’s nice to have that close-knit community with all the benefits of a big campus.
Alyssa Webb (BBA ’15): Everyone is so smart, and it’s a healthy kind of competition. Everyone wants to work together, and they’re here to learn. It’s really inspiring to see that your peers are doing well, because then you’re like, “You know what? I can do that, too.”
Anthony Wright (BBA ’15): My preconceived notion coming into the School was just “stiffs and suits.” Once you’re here, you see they’re just students like everybody else, and they’re trying to better themselves and make an impact on the world. I can definitely say that everyone I’ve encountered at the WSB is all about personal development and uplifting everyone in the School.
David Baker (BBA ’15): I would say the barriers between students and professors are nonexistent. It’s super easy to go into office hours or even approach professors outside of the building if they’re walking around. I’ve never felt intimidated or out of place going up to ask a professor a quick question. It creates a very supportive atmosphere.
“Everyone is so smart, and it’s a healthy kind of competition. It’s really inspiring to see that your peers are doing well, because then you’re like, ‘You know what? I can do that, too.’”
- Alyssa Webb (BBA ’15)
Q: If you could say anything to a student from L.A. or Rio or Hong Kong who has never been to Wisconsin and has no idea what it’s like here, what would you say?
Colin Lindquist (BBA ’15): Come into the experience with a very open mindset. People are extremely nice, and it will surprise you how much people are willing to help you out. Everyone here is genuinely very friendly.