University Open day

The Values That Matter to Make a Truly Informed Choice

, by Pietro Masotti
When choosing a university, there are three crucial elements that students must consider: on the one hand, orientation, which is also the first step against the stereotypes linked to certain subjects, and the admission test, which at Bocconi from this year also presents the possibility of a diversified test for those who aspire to enter only Law. On the other hand, placement: because one must always have an eye on the future

For the university to continue to act as a social elevator for the new generations, it is necessary to remove the economic constraints that impede access to higher education. It is important not only to underscore the advantages that quality academic training brings, but before that, make young people understand that a Bocconi degree is not outside the realm of their possibilities, interests and inclinations. “For the social elevator to work, young men and women must press the button, that is, understand that there is room inside for them; and that by taking the elevator upstairs they will find a way to take their intellectual pursuits to the highest levels possible," metaphorizes Chiara Fumagalli, Professor of Economics and Dean of the Undergraduate School. “This is why everything, in my opinion, starts with guidance and recruitment.”

Guidance: A first step against stereotypes

University study represents an absolute novelty compared to the school experience students have had previously. Even more so if the subjects studied were not part of the high school curriculum. Aspiring first-year students are unlikely to know what it really means to study management, finance, economics, political science, or even law; and they are in the dark about the various professional opportunities these degrees give access to. “If I think back to my experience as a student,” comments Fumagalli, “I remember the surprise of seeing academic and professional trajectories open up before my eyes which I had not even remotely known about before setting foot at Bocconi. For this reason, during activities for prospective students, I try to counteract certain hard-to-die stereotypes. For example, I would like to underline that a degree in economics offers more varied possibilities than one might imagine. Of course, you can go to work as a manager in a corporation or take a role in an investment bank; but there are also economics graduates who work in research centers, in journalism, in consultancies; who deal with social issues in NGOs, private institutions or public administrations; who work in international organizations or for cultural institutions."

Among the stereotypes that it is urgent to get rid of is the one according to which women students are less interested in STEM subjects; still today this translates into a number of female enrollments which are smaller, the greater the weight of mathematics is in a given study course. “This stereotype is particularly difficult to eradicate because it is formed early, already in primary school and in family contexts. For this reason, it is useful to expose students to the many experiences of women who work in these sectors to show them the variety of jobs that can be filled with a degree in quantitative subjects, among which they can certainly find the one most in tune with their personal inclinations."

There is another preconception that can keep a young woman or young man away from a university, namely the belief that she or he cannot feel at ease in a supposedly socially homogenous student population. “I would also like to focus on this aspect,” comments the Dean of the Bocconi Undergraduate School, “and emphasize that the student community is decidedly more heterogeneous than prospective students expect, either in terms of economic and cultural background, or political beliefs, personal interests and individual goals. And that this heterogeneity is a great asset."

Access & Admissions: A test to understand your own inclinations

The admission test constitutes another fundamental point to facilitate a more informed choice of the course of study. It can be a repelling factor or, on the contrary, an opportunity to test oneself in the best possible conditions. Bocconi, for example, is taking the latter direction. For admission to degree programs, students can submit SAT and ACT scores, US academic tests typically used to apply at international universities, which mainly evaluate logical and reasoning skills. Alternatively, they can take the Bocconi test, which is available on the University’s platform in both Italian and English. “We are working to make the Bocconi test as close as possible to the SAT,” underlines the professor, “and to significantly expand the availability of preparatory materials for the Bocconi test, such as test simulations and manuals that explain how to answer questions; useful tools to understand the test structure and arrive as prepared as possible on testing day.”

“A good admission test helps making the selection fairer, but it also helps students choose the degree that truly corresponds to their expectations and aspirations,” confirms Pietro Sirena, Professor of Civil Law and Dean of the Bocconi School of Law. “The great innovation is that starting this year students who intend to apply only to degree programs in Law will be able to take a different and specific test, where the skills, aptitude and vocation of those who want to study law will be taken into greater account: there will be more room for questions based on the use of language and textual reasoning. Among international tests, we will also accept the LSAT, which is used for admission to the main international law schools."

The diversification of the two entrance tests at Bocconi (Undergrad and Law), with the formation of two distinct rankings, constitutes a further form of orientation for students.

Obviously, anyone interested in applying for admission to both Undergraduate and Law Schools – thus keeping open as many avenues as possible and testing their own propensities also on the basis of the results obtained – will be able, with the Undergrad test, to also access the selection for the area of Law studies.

Placement: Deciding today with an eye to tomorrow

The data on employment after graduation are very relevant for choosing one’s course of study. “Results in terms of placement constitute a strong attraction factor for Bocconi: on the day completing the Master of Science, 80.6% of students are already in employment and one year after graduation everyone has a job,” underscores Professor Fumagalli. “This is proof that investment in academic training of excellence pays off and is valuable not only for what it offers in terms of skills and preparation, but also of opportunities, networks and contacts with the world of work. When this is the case, the university plays its fundamental role of promoting social mobility. I believe, however, that it is not sufficient to inform prospective students of such results. It is also necessary to tell them which professional paths open up to them, which career prospects, which they probably haven't thought about yet, are within reach, which dreams can be realized." To return to the metaphor of the elevator, it is important to make it large to carry as many people as possible but also push it up to the highest floors to make the distance with the starting level as large as possible. “Law, in particular, offers two degree programs,” explains Sirena. “One is entirely in English and prepares students for the career of corporate lawyers who work at multinationals, international banks or institutions such as CONSOB (Italy’s SEC) or the ECB. The other directs students towards the job profiles of lawyers, notaries or magistrates working with a global perspective. The jurists who graduate from Bocconi therefore have professional and employment prospects ahead of them that are not linked to national borders, both in the private and public sectors."

Scholarships: Find out as much as possible about them

After having clarified one’s ideas thanks to orientation and having glimpsed where the chosen course of study can lead to, the last knot to be untangled remains the financial one. “Every year, Bocconi devotes a significant share of its budget to scholarships and financial aid. This is an aspect that perhaps isn't sufficiently known," confirms Chiara Fumagalli. During Open Day events, scholarships and funding are the subject of a specific presentation which provides details on the timing to apply for tuition waivers and other forms of student assistance, and get practical suggestions for completing the applications. “It is important to participate in this presentation,” adds the Professor, “to get as much information as possible and not exclude a priori the possibility of attending Bocconi because you mistakenly believe that you cannot afford it.” For those who cannot be present at the Open Day, the suggestion is to inquire about scholarships and funding on the Bocconi website, on the page devoted to financial aid. The university also organizes a webinar for admitted students who must confirm their place, during which ample space is dedicated to forms of aid and funding available.


translated by Alex Foti

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