Author Topic: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?  (Read 15374 times)

sing365

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #100 on: June 28, 2016, 09:42:22 AM »
About colleges: we aren't trying to make you anxious. As we've all said, in accounting the program's reputation matters as much as the school's. But we see your intelligence and initiative and we think: "He can do better than Troy." It's not to say that you won't be successful going there. It's just that your college will be a line on your resume for the rest of your working life. Why not make it something that really stands out? If, of course, you can get the right package. We're making it harder for you in the short run because we think there's a payoff for you in the long run.

I agree with this - nicely put, pbkmaine.

OP, I really commend you for thinking through the college decision so carefully. Well done, you!

As others have said, you should go to the school that positions you best for the outcome that you want. That's not necessarily the cheapest option, although it could be. I love the idea of reaching out to the actual companies you want to work for to ask if they recruit from Troy. Don't ask "have you ever hired someone from Troy?" The question should be "Do you recruit on-campus at Troy?" You want the firm to be doing on-campus presentations, interviewing on-campus, etc.

You also outlined this scenario for getting an MBA:

Quote
1. Go to a local well-known school (Troy)... (snip)
2. Go to a top business school (Harvard, Dartmouth, etc.)

This might sound harsh, but I don't think getting from step #1 to step #2 is very likely. The admissions committees at top MBA programs look at undergraduate records, including the rank/prestige of the institution. The admissions rate at HBS is 11%. You would diminish your odds considerably by choosing to go to a lower-ranked college. If you REALLY want to pursue a "top" MBA - and I'm not necessarily saying that's a good idea - I would go to the highest-ranked undergrad institution possible.

Actually, if you want to set yourself up to get a top MBA as cheaply as possible, you should do ROTC at the most prestigious school you can get into. That takes care of free college. Then, you'll be applying to MBA programs as a veteran officer with a great educational background - and they LOVE that profile (#leadership!). Especially if you have a military career that stands out in some way (e.g., SEAL, helicopter pilot, Ranger). And of course, the military needs people to do finance and accounting, just like every other organization - so you can likely go into that track if you wish. (My friend in the Coast Guard did.) The GI bill also puts a big dent in MBA tuition. Obviously military service isn't for everyone, but it's worth considering.

Joel

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #101 on: June 28, 2016, 10:57:09 AM »
This is an old article, but I doubt that the office sizes of these firms have grown significantly in Birmingham:
http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/blog/2013/12/top-of-the-list-accounting-firms--.html

With that said, Birmingham is definitely what I would consider a small market for public accounting, and it looks like even smaller than the market I worked in, which I considered a small market (we hired 4 for my starting class).

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #102 on: June 28, 2016, 04:23:05 PM »
The national ranking for the University of Alabama is 96. The national ranking for Troy is 648. The median income for Troy graduates after graduation is 38k. Surely you can do better than a top 1000 school. I think your parents think all you have to do is work hard you'll be successful. There's more to it than that. You can also set yourself up for success in other ways.

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #103 on: June 28, 2016, 07:35:13 PM »
The national ranking for the University of Alabama is 96. The national ranking for Troy is 648. The median income for Troy graduates after graduation is 38k. Surely you can do better than a top 1000 school. I think your parents think all you have to do is work hard you'll be successful. There's more to it than that. You can also set yourself up for success in other ways.

Do you have a website/link/chart for this? THIS is exactly what I need to show my parents.

EDIT: I assume you're using the Forbes list, but it lists University of Alabama at 261. Where are you getting 96?
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 07:45:15 PM by precrime3 »

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #104 on: June 28, 2016, 07:41:14 PM »
This is somewhat on the tangent of your question, but I thought I would mention it.  Since you're smart and already took some college-credit courses in HS, have you looked into CLEP tests?  You might be able to avoid some basic classes in your first year (if you don't test out through the university's testing).

I believe I have completed 12 credits (2 history classes, one anthropology, and one journalism class). i also took two AP classes (chemistry and language) but am not holding my breath on actually passing those exams. I am taking a college class next year  in replacement for my high school English class, which will be guaranteed credit (assuming I pass) so that brings my total to 15 credits so far.

And I'm looking into them now, and will report back.

About colleges: we aren't trying to make you anxious. As we've all said, in accounting the program's reputation matters as much as the school's. But we see your intelligence and initiative and we think: "He can do better than Troy." It's not to say that you won't be successful going there. It's just that your college will be a line on your resume for the rest of your working life. Why not make it something that really stands out? If, of course, you can get the right package. We're making it harder for you in the short run because we think there's a payoff for you in the long run.

I agree with this - nicely put, pbkmaine.

OP, I really commend you for thinking through the college decision so carefully. Well done, you!

As others have said, you should go to the school that positions you best for the outcome that you want. That's not necessarily the cheapest option, although it could be. I love the idea of reaching out to the actual companies you want to work for to ask if they recruit from Troy. Don't ask "have you ever hired someone from Troy?" The question should be "Do you recruit on-campus at Troy?" You want the firm to be doing on-campus presentations, interviewing on-campus, etc.

You also outlined this scenario for getting an MBA:

Quote
1. Go to a local well-known school (Troy)... (snip)
2. Go to a top business school (Harvard, Dartmouth, etc.)

This might sound harsh, but I don't think getting from step #1 to step #2 is very likely. The admissions committees at top MBA programs look at undergraduate records, including the rank/prestige of the institution. The admissions rate at HBS is 11%. You would diminish your odds considerably by choosing to go to a lower-ranked college. If you REALLY want to pursue a "top" MBA - and I'm not necessarily saying that's a good idea - I would go to the highest-ranked undergrad institution possible.

Actually, if you want to set yourself up to get a top MBA as cheaply as possible, you should do ROTC at the most prestigious school you can get into. That takes care of free college. Then, you'll be applying to MBA programs as a veteran officer with a great educational background - and they LOVE that profile (#leadership!). Especially if you have a military career that stands out in some way (e.g., SEAL, helicopter pilot, Ranger). And of course, the military needs people to do finance and accounting, just like every other organization - so you can likely go into that track if you wish. (My friend in the Coast Guard did.) The GI bill also puts a big dent in MBA tuition. Obviously military service isn't for everyone, but it's worth considering.

The MBA doesn't really seem practical IMO from an accounting standpoint, so if I do for some reason later down the road want to get it, we can talk about it then :)

And yes, will revise my question to change to that.

This is an old article, but I doubt that the office sizes of these firms have grown significantly in Birmingham:
http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/blog/2013/12/top-of-the-list-accounting-firms--.html

With that said, Birmingham is definitely what I would consider a small market for public accounting, and it looks like even smaller than the market I worked in, which I considered a small market (we hired 4 for my starting class).

Well that's certainly assuring (not).

Joel

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #105 on: June 28, 2016, 08:18:39 PM »
If you want to land a job in a small market for public accounting, you need to find out what colleges those offices actively recruit from. It can be done, it's just harder. The Silicon Valley will take anyone with a pulse that meets the gpa requirement whereas my office got to choose the top four candidates.

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #106 on: June 28, 2016, 08:46:46 PM »
University of Alabama:
http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-alabama-1051

I don't think Troy is even ranked nationally which is why I looked at Forbes. For US News it is only ranked for the region, and pretty low at that. Is Troy a private school?
http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/search?name=Troy+University&state=
http://colleges.startclass.com/l/60/Troy-University

Return on Investment:
http://www.payscale.com/college-roi
http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/best-roi-colleges/

You should really try to pass those AP tests. That will be two classes you won't have to pay for and it will look good in your application.

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #107 on: June 28, 2016, 09:21:51 PM »
If you really have no clue where you want to live and you are pretty sure you want to do accounting...

Think of types of accounting you might want to do.
Accounting for a technology company: apply in Southern California, and Boston
Federal Government and non-profits: Washington DC
International Banking: New York City

The rest I'm just guessing:
Banking: Atlanta
Construction: Southwest (as in Arizona, Nevada etc)

It's OK to go to college and graduate and work in a HCOL area for awhile. That way there will be plenty of job opportunities and you'll be able to get entry level jobs. Then you can move to a LCOL and be a big shot :-)

And at the risk of completely overwhelming you, did you know you can go to college in Germany completely free?
There are a few pitfalls, like it will be very hard to come back to the USA and get a job because accounting is different, but its worth considering.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/20/americans-can-study-in-germany-for-free-in-english-an-increasing-number-are-doing-it/

LeRainDrop

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #108 on: June 28, 2016, 10:25:53 PM »
Emory: George W. Jenkins and Robert W. Woodruff Scholarships. No info on actually applying, though.

Regarding Emory, you would apply to and attend the Emory College of Arts and Sciences (or Emory's small, 2-year campus, called Oxford College) for your first two years (technically, until you have enough credits for college junior standing).  At that time is when you apply and transfer to their business school, Goizueta, for the BBA program (Bachelor of Business Administration).  You would take some business prereqs before actually transferring, and once in the b-school, you can also continue to take some classes in the general college.  The Big 4, as well as many top consulting firms, etc. do interview and hire from Emory's undergrad business program.

ETA:  Here's the link with info about applying for scholarships with Emory: http://apply.emory.edu/apply/scholars.php
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 10:34:03 PM by LeRainDrop »

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #109 on: June 28, 2016, 10:47:53 PM »
If you really have no clue where you want to live and you are pretty sure you want to do accounting...

Think of types of accounting you might want to do.
Accounting for a technology company: apply in Southern California, and Boston
Federal Government and non-profits: Washington DC
International Banking: New York City

The rest I'm just guessing:
Banking: Atlanta
Construction: Southwest (as in Arizona, Nevada etc)

It's OK to go to college and graduate and work in a HCOL area for awhile. That way there will be plenty of job opportunities and you'll be able to get entry level jobs. Then you can move to a LCOL and be a big shot :-)

And at the risk of completely overwhelming you, did you know you can go to college in Germany completely free?
There are a few pitfalls, like it will be very hard to come back to the USA and get a job because accounting is different, but its worth considering.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/20/americans-can-study-in-germany-for-free-in-english-an-increasing-number-are-doing-it/

Not overwhelmed, pleased rather. I remmeber reading this and forgot. Why would it be so difficult to move to USA? I was looking at the school but realized idk if FIRE is possible or feasible outside of the USA, don't know anything about outside IRA or 401k equivalents.

https://www.mannheim-business-school.com/en/

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #110 on: June 29, 2016, 07:09:21 AM »
I just realized we are eligible for a lot of financial aid I believe, I put it in some estimates (97k for dad, 18k for mom) and according to Harvard our cost will like $11,200 annually...


Interesting.

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #111 on: June 29, 2016, 08:54:49 AM »
EU has different accounting standards, called IFRS I believe.

The USA is very insular when it comes to to employment, there's a perception that working in other countries is easier so people with experience abroad can't hack it here. So I think it would be better as a study abroad semester.
People in the EU tend to be less interested in FIRE because there is a better social safety net, and life/ work is less precarious.

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #112 on: July 01, 2016, 09:51:21 AM »
EU has different accounting standards, called IFRS I believe.

The USA is very insular when it comes to to employment, there's a perception that working in other countries is easier so people with experience abroad can't hack it here. So I think it would be better as a study abroad semester.
People in the EU tend to be less interested in FIRE because there is a better social safety net, and life/ work is less precarious.

Interesting, but I'll probably pass. I have narrowed down the list of schools that I will classify as "reach" schools, and hopefully I can get into one of them.

1. Emory University
2. Wake Forest University
3. University of Pennsylvania
4.  University of Mississippi

onlykelsey

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #113 on: July 01, 2016, 09:53:53 AM »
EU has different accounting standards, called IFRS I believe.

The USA is very insular when it comes to to employment, there's a perception that working in other countries is easier so people with experience abroad can't hack it here. So I think it would be better as a study abroad semester.
People in the EU tend to be less interested in FIRE because there is a better social safety net, and life/ work is less precarious.

Interesting, but I'll probably pass. I have narrowed down the list of schools that I will classify as "reach" schools, and hopefully I can get into one of them.

1. Emory University
2. Wake Forest University
3. University of Pennsylvania
4.  University of Mississippi

Interesting.  Those have wildly different levels of prestige and will open wildly different sets of doors.  how'd you make the list?

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #114 on: July 01, 2016, 11:50:56 AM »
EU has different accounting standards, called IFRS I believe.

The USA is very insular when it comes to to employment, there's a perception that working in other countries is easier so people with experience abroad can't hack it here. So I think it would be better as a study abroad semester.
People in the EU tend to be less interested in FIRE because there is a better social safety net, and life/ work is less precarious.

Interesting, but I'll probably pass. I have narrowed down the list of schools that I will classify as "reach" schools, and hopefully I can get into one of them.

1. Emory University
2. Wake Forest University
3. University of Pennsylvania
4.  University of Mississippi

Interesting.  Those have wildly different levels of prestige and will open wildly different sets of doors.  how'd you make the list?

They all have strong business schools/undergraduate programs/whatever, Mississippi even has a school of accountancy. And I looked into each school's financial aid, grant, scholarships and my personal situation/academic performance and at all of these schools my total cost should be at most $15,000 per year.

While some of them may have higher CPA pass rate, job placement rates, etc. I think that going to any of these schools will be a major step in the right direction compared to Troy or JSU.

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #115 on: July 01, 2016, 12:00:57 PM »
Only 4 reach schools? And what happened to University of Alabama? You should apply to at least 10 schools, maybe more, and you can't know ahead of time what the entire financial package will be. Schools have a lot of discretion on how they give out aid. Two similar schools could give you two completely different packages because they view you differently.

katsiki

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #116 on: July 01, 2016, 12:56:00 PM »
If you want to stay in the SE, have you considered Tulane or Loyola (New Orleans)?  Tulane used to be generous with financial aid for high achievers (good scores, grades, etc).

pbkmaine

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #117 on: July 01, 2016, 06:21:41 PM »
Keep University of Alabama on your list. Definitely apply to Wharton (University of Pennsylvania).

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #118 on: July 01, 2016, 08:22:58 PM »
Only 4 reach schools? And what happened to University of Alabama? You should apply to at least 10 schools, maybe more, and you can't know ahead of time what the entire financial package will be. Schools have a lot of discretion on how they give out aid. Two similar schools could give you two completely different packages because they view you differently.

I forgot, but yes, applying for that. So that makes 5. I haven't really seen any other colleges that would be ideal for my situation
(3.8 GPA, 32 ACT, parents combined income is around $115 k). Any suggestions?

Took a look at Tulane, definitely will be adding to the list. As will Loyola. So that makes 7.

So regarding the CPA,

It typically takes students 5 years to complete an accounting degree, AND study for the CPA. So how does this work in the real world? With many claiming that accountants are usually offered jobs before graduation, are you expected to work your job and just study for the CPA on the side? How does that work?

And what about scholarships? Are you required to foot the full bill the 5th year?

« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 08:27:25 PM by precrime3 »

pbkmaine

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Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #119 on: July 01, 2016, 08:51:52 PM »
What happens if you need 5 years is a question you should ask the schools.

And a note: If you get into Wharton and get a scholarship, I would not necessarily pick accounting. Accounting is a great field, but Wharton can give you other alternatives as well. The top Wall Street firms recruit from Wharton's finance department.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #120 on: July 01, 2016, 10:31:01 PM »
Just throwing this idea out there -- how about the University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce)?  Back when I was a senior in high school, '98-'99, our college counselors were advising us to apply to 2-3 "reach" schools, 5-6 "match" schools, and 1-2 "safety" schools -- this advice certainly may have changed since then, but just putting it out there for your consideration.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 10:33:50 PM by LeRainDrop »

Joel

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #121 on: July 02, 2016, 09:56:36 AM »
And a note: If you get into Wharton and get a scholarship, I would not necessarily pick accounting. Accounting is a great field, but Wharton can give you other alternatives as well. The top Wall Street firms recruit from Wharton's finance department.

You absolutely do not need a prestigious school to go into accounting. As he mentioned, if you get into a prestigious school you should consider investment banking and the finance area.

Joel

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #122 on: July 02, 2016, 09:58:38 AM »
Regarding the CPA exam, you typically cannot take it until you are done with school. So you have to study for it while working. It takes approx 500 hours of studying and each of the four parts have around a 55% pass rate.

And you often need 5 years of schooling to meet the educational requirements to become a CPA. (150 units plus certain specific requirements depending on the state)

precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #123 on: July 02, 2016, 08:18:48 PM »
Just throwing this idea out there -- how about the University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce)?  Back when I was a senior in high school, '98-'99, our college counselors were advising us to apply to 2-3 "reach" schools, 5-6 "match" schools, and 1-2 "safety" schools -- this advice certainly may have changed since then, but just putting it out there for your consideration.

Will look into it.

And a note: If you get into Wharton and get a scholarship, I would not necessarily pick accounting. Accounting is a great field, but Wharton can give you other alternatives as well. The top Wall Street firms recruit from Wharton's finance department.

You absolutely do not need a prestigious school to go into accounting. As he mentioned, if you get into a prestigious school you should consider investment banking and the finance area.

Got it.

Regarding the CPA exam, you typically cannot take it until you are done with school. So you have to study for it while working. It takes approx 500 hours of studying and each of the four parts have around a 55% pass rate.

And you often need 5 years of schooling to meet the educational requirements to become a CPA. (150 units plus certain specific requirements depending on the state)

AH okay! Thanks for the confirmation.

mozar

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #124 on: July 03, 2016, 11:57:01 AM »
Quote
you typically cannot take it until you are done with school



Since the 150 hours is a relatively new requirement I don't know of any scholarships that specifically covered the fifth year, but there are all kinds of accounting scholarships available that you can look into.

Quote
2-3 "reach" schools, 5-6 "match" schools, and 1-2 "safety" schools --

« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 01:50:03 PM by mozar »

Joel

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #125 on: July 03, 2016, 01:50:30 PM »
Quote
you typically cannot take it until you are done with school

Well I haven't looked into it myself but I do know someone who started taking the cpa tests the last semester of college (in this case she had taken 150 credits within 4 years). Typically though, you are expected to get your external audit job the fall of your senior year, then pass the cpa test within the first two years of working.

My understanding is that you can take the test anytime after 18, but you won't actually be awarded cpa status until you complete the experience requirement.
Here is the website for your state board: http://www.asbpa.alabama.gov/

Since the 150 hours is a relatively new requirement I don't know of any scholarships that specifically covered the fifth year, but there are all kinds of accounting scholarships available that you can look into.

Each state has different requirements, but it's pretty standard that you need at least a bachelors degree and 120 units before you can sit for the exam. Some states won't let you sit until you have the 150.

pbkmaine

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precrime3

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #127 on: July 10, 2016, 07:53:48 AM »
Update: have started applying for colleges, and 3 of them are down. Working on the emory one now. Also seeing if there are any more match schools I could add due to the suggestion Mozar.

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Re: Viability of choosing a Business Degree?/Top Business School Worth It?
« Reply #128 on: July 10, 2016, 11:46:34 AM »
I'm about 90% positive going to Troy University. Thanks to my 32 on the ACT, that qualifies me for a full ride merit-based scholarship. If for whatever reason Troy doesn't workout, a full ride to Jacksonville State University.
I teach high school seniors, and they often say this type of thing ... and it's almost always incorrect.  That 32 ACT is wonderful, but what it does is qualify you to apply for those full-rides.  Perhaps 100 people have those grades and 10 of them might get the scholarship. 

Very important:  Apply for these scholarships -- and I hope it works out!  But, at the same time, have in mind a financial back-up plan.  What could you do if no scholarships come through for you?  Don't say, "Oh, I don't need a back-up."  Everyone does.
What do you mean by "I want to do business"?  I had that same thought when I was in undergrad and got a general business degree.  Then I found out that "do business" doesn't really mean anything?  Most of the people I graduated with as business majors went to work for consulting firms, sales, or whatever the could get.   

I would strongly consider a major in finance or accounting.
Good advice.  My youngest has "the business brain" -- no one else in our family does.  However, like you, she's fuzzy on just what she wants to do with that inclination. 

Two other pieces of advice I'd add: 
- Look for internships during college.  In business, you need to make connections.
- Look into specializing in Supply Chain Management; I've heard it called The New MBA.
Lots of great job opportunities if you major in Accounting.  You'll need 150 hours to sit for your CPA exam, so check to see what the program is at your college.  Some people get a Masters in Accounting when they get 150 hours, which looks good on a resume but doesn't really mean anything. 
Credit hours, also called Carnegie Units. 

You sign up for college English 101.  It is a 3 hour class.  This means the class meets 3 hours per week (and you're expected to put in significantly more time outside of class).  At the end of the semester, you'll have earned 3 credit hours.  Most of your early college classes will be 3 credit classes, but Biology lab might only count 1 credit hour, while student teaching might be 12 credit hours.  You might say to a friend, "I'm taking 15 hours this semester", which would mean you'd be in class 15 hours per week.  A bachelor's degree typically requires 210-230 credit hours, depending upon your choices. 
By go technical, do you mean like learning a trade? I wanted to do that too, but my parents are forcing me to go to college, and with it being free, there's little reason not to. I do want to learn a trade as well, maybe after I'm FI, but who knows.
Technical jobs -- high paying jobs requiring formal education with a STEM focus:  Engineering, Computer Science, Architect
Trade jobs -- blue collar jobs with specialized training, but not necessarily formal education: Plumbing, Heating & Air, Cosmetology

I see a couple huge red flags here:
- You're choosing college because someone else is forcing you in that direction.
- You think it's going to be free.  Realistically, this just doesn't happen.  Last time I saw one of my high school students earn a truly free ride was ... three years ago?  And that was military academy.  Tuition scholarships, yes.  Athletic scholarships, yes.  But don't set yourself up for the idea that college will be free. 
Marketing is also an incredibly hot area if you learn digital marketing (Adwords, Facebook advertising, etc.)
Yes, my youngest is interested in marketing.  That particular niche of the business world is good for people who have an artistic /creative side AND who are excellent communicators, especially in writing.
This forum tends to appeal to engineering types. That's why you see so many here. They are not that common in the "real" world.
Yes, and although you'll find lots of people leaving high school with plans to go into engineering, more than half of them won't finish the program.  It's a tough field of study that only works for people with a very specific skill set and personality. 
I also meant to recommend that you study abroad during college. That is a great experience to live somewhere foreign for a semester or year. Once you graduate, you will be working ...

In my recruiting experience (as a student and recruiter), we avoided the 4.0 students with no social skills.
Studying abroad is a great idea; of course, you should keep this in mind as you choose your college.  Choose a school that'll allow you to study abroad for local tuition. 

As for the "we avoided the 4.0 students with no social skills", we see the same thing in high school.  Every year I have students with excellent GPAs, AP credits ... but no real involvement outside of class, no leadership experience.  Scholarships go to well rounded students, not necessarily those with tip-top grades.  Don't get me wrong:  I'm not saying grades aren't necessary ... but I am saying that grades aren't a stand-alone guarantee of anything.
You know yourself best. My cousin almost flunked out of college because of partying too much. But don't avoid a school because of a party reputation. It's not like high school where there are only a few hundred people. At college/university there are literally thousands of people, and it is very easy to make friends with people who don't party a lot.
Yes, you know yourself best. 

When I headed out to college I chose a "study hall" dorm, which was sort of the precursor to today's Honors programs.  It was an awful environment.  I moved out after one semester. 

My daughter just graduated from one of the biggest party schools in our region.  She graduated on time with an excellent GPA, a month later passed the NCLEX exam, and starts her professional job next week.  Clearly being at a "party school" didn't hold her back.  She practiced good time management and did what needed to be done. 

Some people can do that, while others are easily led astray by a roommate who says, "Come on, you can study tomorrow night."  Be honest with yourself about what you really need to succeed in college.
And as far as your extracurriculars go, pick a few things to emphasize, not everything. The weirder the better, I think. If you were President of The Bagpipe Society for 4 years and took your school bagpipe team to Nationals, where you took the prize for Best Kilts, that should be front and center. Pick something that makes you stand out. If you list your clubs and positions, we can help you highlight your achievements. Also, any volunteer work? Again, looking for something unusual, like helping native Tagalog speakers learn English.
Yes, I tell my students that it's better to have been involved in 1-2 activities for a long period of time /showing a progression towards leadership rather than being minimally involved with a smattering of interests.  And, yes, your Bagpipe Society, which I assume is fictional, is exactly the type of thing that catches the eye of scholarship committees. 
Don't ask "have you ever hired someone from Troy?" The question should be "Do you recruit on-campus at Troy?" You want the firm to be doing on-campus presentations, interviewing on-campus, etc.
Nicely worded.  What you're really asking is, "Do you consider Troy's program strong enough that they consistently turn out graduates who are ready for the rigors of the work world?  Do you see enough of them that you're willing to pay to send a recruiter out to find these people at Troy?" 
(3.8 GPA, 32 ACT, parents combined income is around $115 k). Any suggestions?
Is this an unweighted GPA?  With a 32 ACT, I'd have expected a higher GPA.