Mar 132008

On any given weeknight at Rockwell Hall, triads and quartets of business students crowd the computer lab, hammering away at group projects for hours.

Students and faculty of the business college say hands-on projects and hard work help mobilize recognition for the department.

Late February, Business Week magazine ranked CSU’s College of Business No. 73 in the top 100 undergraduate business programs in the nation. Down from last year’s 63rd place finish, the college finished between the University of Denver at No. 67 and the University of Colorado at No. 83.

“We’re pretty excited about the whole thing,” said Susan Athey, the associate dean of undergraduate programs at the College of Business. “A lot of high school students will go and look at those rankings when they are trying to decide where to apply.”

The Business Week survey assessed 127 eligible programs, all certified by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, and used nine measures to determine the rankings.

Student satisfaction surveys were offered to 80,000 graduating seniors to analyze quality of instruction and facilities. In addition, the survey polled 618 corporate recruiters to determine post-graduate outcomes and the effectiveness of campus curricula.

It is difficult to say the reasons for CSU’s drop in placement from last year, Athey said, because Business Week does not disclose information on the schools polled or the students that completed surveys. She did, however, say the companies who hire the most business graduates from CSU, such as Accenture, KPNG, and Hewlett-Packard, have positive feedback for graduates.

“They tell us that students who come out of the College of Business at CSU are ready to go work,” Athey said. “They are ready to go to work and work hard.”

The college offers students career-planning programs that cover topics in resume building, job searching and credit management. In addition, Athey said, the college promotes interactive opportunities such as student clubs and networking outlets.

“We try to get students involved in business competitions and real-life situations,” Athey said. “Our students do lots and lots of hands-on, real-life projects.”

Mike Burns and Jake Gibbons, both senior corporate finance majors, are no strangers to hands-on projects. At the Rockwell computer lab Monday night, both worked to complete a group assignment for a capstone finance class.

“Probably 90 percent of the people here are doing a group project, or they might be working on a group project by themselves,” Burns said. “It’s very group-heavy.”

Burns and Gibbons both transferred to the business college from engineering, and said they found studies in business more challenging.

“I don’t think any other college knows how busy business students are,” Gibbons said.

Burns and Gibbons had recommendations for departmental faculty and students to improve the educational experience in the college.

They suggested tests or personality assessments be given to freshman and sophomore students to determine career interests as early as possible.

“There’s a lot of people in finance that don’t like it, that really didn’t know what they were getting into,” Gibbons said.

Burns had a practical tip for students: “Don’t throw away your stats book.”

Staff writer Shayna Grajo can be reached at

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