Calling all prospective students looking for a great place to study business: There's one city you may not have considered, and that's Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta offers not only a hub of excellent business programs, including online colleges for business, but also an economically and culturally attractive environment. As the epicenter of business in the southeast, and the largest economy of all the other metro areas in the region, Atlanta is home to a tremendous amount of big business, start-up activity, and excellent business schools. (See online colleges in Georgia).
According to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, 28 of America's largest Fortune 1000 corporations, as well as 194 fast-growing private companies are located in Atlanta. For business students, this is significant, since pairing academics with real-life workplace experience and the ability to build a professional network is key for launching a successful business career.
Twenty-eight of America's largest Fortune 1000 corporations, as well as 194 fast-growing private companies are located in Atlanta, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
"Many of the area colleges have working relationships with these companies to help them connect with Atlanta's local talent, so proximity to these company headquarters makes connecting with potential employers much easier," says Tanya Dunne, vice president of communications and marketing for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. And, she adds, for business students that prefer the adrenaline of working for a start-up, Atlanta has a robust entrepreneurial community that they can plug into.
Take a look at some of the opportunities the city has to offer its business students, as well as other lifestyle factors to consider for those thinking of settling in "The Big Peach":
Business is Booming
Atlanta businesses are thriving, with Delta, Coca-Cola, The Home Depot, and UPS just a few of the big name corporations that have a presence there. Add to that Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showing that management and business related jobs make up the highest percentage of the total job market in the region (and pay better than other places in the U.S.).
A business-friendly environment and lots of state support are key elements for growth and opportunity in the metro Atlanta region, according to the Chamber.
"There are so many companies here so there's lots of opportunities for internships and coop programs," says Richard M. Franza, senior associate dean and professor of management at the College of Business at Kennesaw State University, just outside metro Atlanta. "Whether you go to a top 20 school or not, just the business degree without some taste of the working world will put you at a competitive disadvantage," he says.
Enjoying a lower cost applies to Atlanta residents, too. "It's a whole lot cheaper living in Atlanta than it will be in New York, Boston, San Francisco, or Chicago, so young people find it attractive," says Franza. This is especially helpful for students who may be looking to open up their own business or join a start-up in Atlanta after graduation.
Using NerdWallet's city cost of living comparison calculator, Atlanta costs 3 percent less to live than Houston; 19 percent less than Chicago; and 26 percent less than Philadelphia. That means that the healthy median income of $50,862 for Atlanta college graduates, according to the BLS, will stretch much further than it would for their counterparts in other metro areas.
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Top-Notch Educational Options
If you're currently a Georgia resident, the average price for in-state students living off campus (not with family) based on National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) data for 2013-2014 is $34,605, which is lower than national average of $42,404.
But beyond sticker price, students from both in and out of state are attracted to Atlanta's highly rated business programs, including Emory University's Goizueta Business School, which consistently makes Forbes' top 25 MBA programs in the U.S.
"Goizueta has done a tremendous job in faculty research and developing student skills. There's an opportunity to align with firms and corporations in Atlanta that is a real plus for us," says Erika James, dean of the Goizueta Business School. "Goizueta aims to be a source for thought leadership - our faculty - and a source for talent - our students. This can be done in any city, but I believe Atlanta is particularly suited to expand our brand of business education," she says.
Georgia Institute of Technology's Scheller College of Business is another well-respected institution of higher learning, and is one of the largest industrial and engineering research schools in the south. Scheller consistently develops new programs to reflect the needs of today's businesses, which is something that prospective students should think about when selecting a business program.
"About three years ago, almost every job description would have something about analytics. We opened an analytics center in Georgia Tech because the demand for students with analytics skills is an area of strength for us," says Jim Kranzusch, executive director, MBA Career Services at Scheller.
The school also has leadership development programs that collaborate with corporations like AT&T and Bank of America, as well as its Center for Sustainable Business to address this hot new business trend.
A combination of hard and soft skills is the best way to land a great job after completing a business degree in Atlanta, says Dunne. "Current entry-level positions require much more exposure to customers and upper management than ever before. A student with an understanding of data analytics combined with public speaking know-how, will have their pick of opportunities in Atlanta," she says.
Rich Startup Tech Industry
For students who don't want to climb the traditional corporate ladder, start-up culture in Atlanta is huge and growing as well. Nerdwallet ranked Atlanta the number one city to start a business in 2013, and Under 30 CEO chose Atlanta for the top city for young entrepreneurs, as reported by Metro Atlanta Chamber.
And Forbes.com reports that Atlanta is also a hub for start-up incubators like Atlanta Technology Village, which is at capacity with over 600 companies. Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) has also helped graduates raise over $2 billion for their startups.
A Youthful City
Beyond the books, there is a lot for young people to do in Atlanta, especially for those who like to enjoy outdoor activities in year-round beautiful weather.
"Atlanta has a very diverse culture which gives the city a mix of flavors," says Dunne. "The Midtown area has been a huge draw for young workers with its wonderful restaurants, nightlife, Piedmont Park and entertainment venues like the Fox Theatre and Woodruff Arts Center, home to the Atlanta Symphony and High Museum."
From excellent business education to a tremendous amount of job opportunity, to its low cost of living and lifestyle perks, studying business in Atlanta offers the potential for a great return on your educational investment.
- "The Best Places to Live -- For You," http://www.nerdwallet.com/cost-of-living-calculator/compare
- Dean Erika James of the Goizueta Business School, interviewed by author March 19th, 2015
- Instagram, Emory University (@emoryuniversity), https://instagram.com/emoryuniversity/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=photo
- Instagram, Monique (@dynamic_momo), https://instagram.com/dynamic_momo/
- Instagram, Lauren Holley (@graphiknation), https://instagram.com/graphiknation/?utm_source=partner&utm_medium=embed&utm_campaign=photo
- Instagram, Downtown Atlanta (@downtownatlanta), https://instagram.com/downtownatlanta/
- Jim Kranzusch, exec. Director, MBA Career Services at Scheller, interviewed by author March 17th, 2015
- "Occupational Employment and Wages in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta," May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/regions/southeast/news-release/occupationalemploymentandwages_atlanta.htm
- Richard M. Franza, senior associate dean and professor of management at the College of Business at Kennesaw State
- University, interviewed by author March 18th, 2015
- Tanya Dunne, Vice President, Communications and Marketing Metro Atlanta Chamber, interviewed by author via email March 26th, 2015
- "Will Atlanta Become A Hotbed For Startups?", http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2014/11/05/will-atlanta-become-a-hotbed-for-startups/