Many of the nation’s top high school seniors electing to study business at IU’s Kelley School

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About 2,500 Kelley direct admit students and their family members visited IU this weekend.

Last fall, American College Testing, a nonprofit organization that assesses college readiness, released data from a questionnaire of exam takers’ interest areas and released a top 10 list of most popular majors at U.S. colleges and universities.

Four of the majors on the ACT’s list — business management (No. 1), general business (No. 2), accounting (No. 3) and marketing (7th) — demonstrate why there’s such a demand to study business across the country.

But an increasing number of the nation’s top students are electing to earn their degree from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business.

This weekend, a record gathering of more than 900 direct admit students traveled to IU Bloomington with the family members for an inside look at the Kelley student experience.

About 2,500 people attended one of two receptions at the newly renovated Alumni Hall on Friday night and Direct Admit Day on Saturday at the IU Auditorium. Last year, about 1,500 people attended the receptions.

Those gathered included young people and their families from 32 states and 19 countries (students from another 11 states and 24 nations are expected to be among this year’s fall class). This was the first time that Friday night’s activities had to be divided into two events.

Kelley School Dean Idalene Kesner offered a warm welcome.

Kelley School Dean Idalene Kesner offered a warm welcome.

Perhaps helping to explain the rise in interest in Kelley among these high achieving students is the school’s rising profile internationally, as demonstrated through recent Bloomberg Businessweek rankings.

Kelley is ranked No. 1 in student quality by recruiters and eighth overall. U.S. News and World Report also ranked Kelley’s undergraduate program eighth overall and eight majors in the top 10.

Dean Idalene “Idie” Kesner, faculty members and successful alumni spoke Saturday to the direct admits — who have an average grade point average of 3.9 or higher — about Kelley’s top ranked programs and learning experiences.

“We demand the best of our students and in return we give you our best. We will be your coaches, your mentors, your collaborators and your connections. We will come together to accomplish things we can all be proud of,” Kesner said.

“We believe succeeding together is better than going it alone. Kelleys see risk as a challenge, not a barrier, and they know what it takes to make tough decisions for the right reasons. We create leaders that others want to follow.”

Alumni and current students share their stories

Among them is alumna Kim Simios, Chicago managing partner of EY, who today, after 25 years with the firm, supports more than 2,600 professionals. She spoke and is part of Kelley’s “How We Succeed” video series.

Perhaps the most poignant moments Saturday came when three Kelley students — Susie Bittker, a freshman from West Bloomfield, Mich.; Stephen Anderson, a junior from Louisville; and Matt Renie, a senior from Indianapolis — got up to speak.

Stephen Anderson, a junior from Louisville, was one of three Kelley students to share their stories.

Stephen Anderson, a junior from Louisville, was one of three Kelley students to share their stories.

Bittker related how she changed her major from physics to business after being admitted to IU. “Like you, I was blessed with options and sought a campus where I felt comfortable. I wanted a place I was proud to call home,” she told the audience.

“During my IU campus and Kelley tours, I immediately sensed something very different,” she continued. “Everyone I met appeared happy, kind and truly cared about my well-being. People were interested in my success instead of transforming me into a number.”

She subsequently joined the Kelley Living Learning Center and is looking forward to traveling to Costa Rica and India as a result of study abroad programs — all within her first year in the school.

Anderson spoke about how he has been able to work toward his goal of managing a professional sports franchise and also overcame personal challenges.

“The Kelley School of Business has a way of turning your weaknesses, or ways you can improve, into your strengths. For me, public speaking was that weakness, which may sound funny now, seeing that I am speaking in front of you today,” Anderson said.

“It just goes to show that at Kelley you will sometimes be pushed outside of your comfort zone, but with supportive faculty and peers around you, you can achieve anything and overcome any obstacles.”

Renie, who is 70 days away from receiving his degree, spoke about his “Kelley family.”

“If you chose to come here, you will find some of the best mentors you could ever imagine,” he said. “They come in the form of world class professors, who are at the top of their academic fields, and take an interest in you not only as a student and future professional, but as a person as well.

“And they sometime even take selfies with you if you do well enough in their classes,” Renie said, then adding that the “most important” members of the Kelley family are his classmates.

Direct admit students only part of the success story

Bipin Prabhakar, clinical associate professor of information systems, center, visits with a prospective student's family.

Bipin Prabhakar, clinical associate professor of information systems, center, visits with a prospective student’s family.

The Kelley School won’t know how many direct admit students will enroll until after a May 1 deadline, but projections for the class of 2019 suggest close to a record number of direct admit students — in addition to those who enroll at IU and apply for admission to Kelley after their freshman year.

With an enrollment of approximately 5,500, the Kelley School has the largest undergraduate enrollment in any business school in Bloomberg Businessweek’s Top 10.

In order to be a direct admit student at Kelley, students need to have a 30 score on the ACT exam or a 1,270 on the SAT’s critical reading and math components. The eligibility requirements were made more stringent two years ago but the number of applications has continued to increase.

Before everyone left to tour the newly dedicated Hodge Hall, the Kelley Living Learning Center and the rest of the campus, Kesner said students are taught how to make the most of important moments in their lives, build on those moments and create momentum for their future.

And as you’ll see in the video below, everyone at Kelley was really glad they came.

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