- Class: Freshman
- Major: Finance
- Gender: M
- High School: Manchester Central High School (Manchester, NH)
- Transfer Student: N
Bentley is truly a business school--do not expect to get more out of it. Having just finished my first semester, I can say I felt more like what I imagine an MBA program would have been like than a liberal arts undergrad curriculum. For many, the strong business focus is exactly what they want, but those who aren't committed to business may find that the scene gets old quickly. Nearly everything has a business focus, from the course selection to extracurricular events (many of which include Big Four recruiters). There are some other options, like the Liberal Studies Major, which is a great addition to the business curriculum, but for those who really want to try and get away from the business world Benltey thrusts you into, this won't be enough.
One of the great things about the school is that the class sizes are definitely small from the start. Some of the very basic classes everyone has to take (like math 123/131) tend to fill the room with about 30 students, but the rest of the classes are usually just above 20 students which allows you and your professor to get to know each other. I've been told first year profs aren't always the best ones you could get, but I still had some great professors this past semester. Classes generally don't have a lot of discussion though, and not many students are jumping to contribute either. From my experience there are typically 3-5 people in each class who generally lead the discussion when it happens. Competitiveness exists because we're all (for the most part) business students wanting to get one-up on each other, but so much of the general business curriculum is focused around working in teams on large projects that you really have to throw your competitive edge to the side to be able to work with others. The curriculum for next year is changing and eliminating a lot of the group work that has been done in years past, so it will be interesting to see where this takes the competitiveness of the student body. On the whole, however, everyone's pretty laid back outside of the classroom. No one's humiliating themselves with the kinds of conversations they have outside of class, but not everyone knows who wrote The Republic either. This reflects the mission of the school's curriculum though--if you come to Bentley, you're there to learn how to do business well. The school doesn't have much liberal artsy intellect flowing around because that's generally what people did not come here to be a part of. If you're on the fence about whether or not business is your thing, you may find that a school that offers a business program alongside an Arts and Sciences school may be a better fit.
The school is pretty diverse. You'll find a good number of international students, but they aren't all friendly. Many international students end up sticking together and can get pretty exclusive. They aren't always extraordinarily polite either, especially when they're in their groups. There seems to be an equal balance between the international students who stick together and the ones who go out and find themselves with American groups of people. The school isn't very politically active; however, there is a pretty strong conservative perspective that blankets the campus. The LGBT population doesn't get shunned by students, but there is some noticeable tension as not everyone is comfortable with people that are different. International or not, students generally have similar viewpoints and personalities so accepting differences with others doesn't always seem to go well. People are pretty nice for the most part, though. Not many try to hide their financial aid backgrounds, either, and many (including myself) are very happy with the awards they've been given. Guys and girls at Bentley look, for the most part, nice, but not model material. There are some standouts, more for girls than guys, where some people obviously put a little more work into getting ready in the morning. It's not excessive and they aren't sticking out. There is a pretty balanced mix. The campus doesn't have much of a preppy vibe at all, so you won't see many guys in polos and girls in pearls unless they have something going on that day. While not personally my type, the girls are pretty attractive and the guys stay in shape, so I'd say we are a pretty good looking campus. One of the biggest downsides of the student body is the proximity to home many students have. Many students are from Massachusetts or someplace very close, so the campus can get pretty quiet on weekends since home isn't very far away for a good chunk of the student body. In being a business school, a lot of students have hopes of making a ton of money after school. Money gets talked about a lot and can get a bit obnoxious after a while, but most are willing to divert the subject elsewhere (especially in this economic downturn).
The Best Things
The business focus is superb for those who are interested in it. While it doesn't have the prestige of Wharton, Stern, or one of the Ivy League institutions, its pretty well respected by some big name firms and has an excellent recruiting network. People are friendly, too, so even if the academics aren't your thing you'll at least be able to enjoy the people you're there with.
The Worst Things
There is little to do if you're interested in the arts. When you talk to faculty about this, their first response is almost always "Well, maybe you can do something in the business side of music when you get out of college." The Waltham Phil and Waltham Symphony exist, but they're both mediocre options for classical musicians who were hoping to take their skills further in college. The drama department is a bit... unique. The arts program could be revitalized and improved, but not without a student body more interested in having one.