June 29, 2016
On a hot Saturday afternoon in June, 30 rising high school seniors arrived at the University of South Carolina Honors College dorm to begin the 10th annual Business at Moore program held by the Darla Moore School of Business.
Business at Moore, or BAM, is a week-long, immersive experience as a college business student. Students live in the dorms, eat on- and off-campus meals, attend classes and participate in team projects — provided to them at no cost through a grant from Wells Fargo. Not many of these high school students knew what to expect, but all left with a better understanding of business school classes and a taste of college life — and a better sense of their own strengths and interests.
“In high school, they force you to stay within the lines and they don’t let you express yourself,” said Kyler Anderson, a student from Brashier Middle College Charter High School in Simpsonville, South Carolina. “But then when you come here you’re able to be yourself and get real-world experience instead of just having a standard team project that you’re only doing because you’re going to be graded on it.”
The BAM program was designed to give students under-represented in business the opportunity to experience the life of a business school student prior to coming to college. The 30 high-achieving students were chosen from more than 150 applicants because of their individual academic talents. Bringing them together in one program gives them the opportunity to learn business essentials from college professors, and from each other.
Shortly after their arrival, the students were broken into teams and told to come up with a product idea. Throughout the week, each team had to develop a business plan using the skills they were learning in courses taught by Moore School professors. In addition to learning accounting, marketing, finance, economics, entrepreneurship and business communications, students also learned about college life and teamwork. They also went bowling together, participated in a scavenger hunt and took a trip to the movies.
“I really enjoyed the scavenger hunt around Columbia,” said Frelicia Tucker from Aiken High School in Aiken, South Carolina. “I got to know my teammates better and learned more about the surrounding area.”
At the end of the week, the parents came back to watch the students present their final business projects to their peers and a panel of judges.
“I was so impressed with the team — with all of the teams, really — putting together, in basically three days’ time, a whole business plan,” said Kipra Anderson, Kyler Anderson’s mother, after watching her son’s team present. “And, of course, as a mom, watching your ‘little kid’ up there about to launch off to college — it’s really amazing to see how far they’ve come.”
The summer heat was a key source of inspiration for the project winners. The team that won developed a plan for a modified dry wick shirt that would solve the Columbia heat problem before the user even got sweaty. Other projects included a high-heeled shoe that could convert to a flat shoe, an app that alerted users of campus activities that matched their interests and a conveyor belt shelving unit inspired by Pixar’s movie “WALL-E.”
Regardless of who won, all of the students learned a lot throughout the week, not only about business, but also about their personal aspirations. Many students discovered what business education entails and are eager to pursue a business degree in college.
“If I had to describe this program in one word, it would be ‘bam’ because it’s right in your face,” said Nicole Lindbergh from Academic Magnet High School. “Most people never take a business course in high school, so getting to learn about real, practical business processes and such was kind of a shock, in a good way. It was a ‘bam’ kind of moment.”
By Madeleine Vath