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Advice by Sonja Owens-Harper

Submitted by Sonja Owens-Harper (September 2012)

A business degree provides a broad exposure to all the crucial elements that make an organization function well.  If you think of a business degree as a general foundation rather than a specialized training program, then you can visualize the endless selection of careers that are available. For example, one can specialize in accounting, advertising, communications, finance, hospital administrator, human resources, labor relations and nonprofit management just to name a few. Depending on which area you specialize in, the many hats you could wear would include: problem solver, innovative thinker, compulsive listener, and confident pioneer. In addition, as a business school student, you should have the ability to communicate concise written and verbal information, excel at team work, work well under pressure and be comfortable with math.
The best advice I could give a business student, or any student for that matter, is to GO TO CLASS. When you get to the college level, most times you do not have instructors nagging you about coming to class. And then, sometimes you do. Some schools do have attendance policies. Believe it or not, sometimes just showing up to class can help your grade. Every day that you miss class, means, that you have missed some pertinent information and this makes it difficult to do well on exams.
Every time that you miss class,  it makes it easier for you to decide not to got to the next class until suddenly, you realize that you haven’t been to Business Ethics in a month and you have no idea how many projects were due before Christmas break. Unless you have a legitimate reason, go to class and get there on time.

I would also set clear goals for each class. Decide what you specifically want out of each class. Do you just want a passing grade to say you’ve met that requirement in your program? Is this a key course that you will later need a recommendation from the professor? Is this a class you are not interested in but must take? Is this a subject you want to master? The answer to these questions can help you determine whether you sit in the front or back of the class, how actively you will participate and what kind of relationship you want to have with the professor.

Setting goals for yourself will help you stay on track. Repeating courses waste time and money. Though all courses are important (because you are paying for them) you don’t need to put an equal amount of effort into every class. Put forth an extra effort for the more important and challenging classes but feel free to loosen up a little from classes that are a low priority based on your specific goals. This is a way to conserve your mental energy. By stealing time from low priority assignments, you will be able to invest more time in the more challenging core classes. Not every class will require your complete focused attention. In those classes, sit in the back and do homework for other classes. For those more challenging classes, sit in the front and give the professor your undivided attention.

Another pearl of wisdom to live by is to use your university’s resources. This would include but are not limited to:
(1)  Counseling services for issues such as stress, depression,  or anxiety that college students sometime experience
(2)  The career center, there are many jobs in college that will work around your schedule and require minimal hours. The career center may also offer tutoring for those who need a little extra help in classes.
(3)  The health clinic, it is important to take care of your body. Eat well, drink (water), exercise (walking to class qualifies) wash your hands and get enough sleep. The pressures of college life can cause your immune system to wear down and you can become very ill.
(4)  Financial management Studies consistently show that college kids struggle with credit card debt so pass on the credit cards at least until you’re ready to graduate and have acquired several years of experience and confidence managing your money

My last piece of advice to business students is to: MEET, TALK AND JOIN. There are a lot of ways to meet people. Without friends, college would be boring and probably depressing. Some examples of where you could meet people are recreational activities such as basketball or soccer games, Christian or business groups, study or political /issue-based groups.

You should get to know the people in chargeIf people know you, they are more likely to help you. Talk to your professors who will be more likely to help you with difficult concepts or give you the benefit of the doubt when your grade is in the balance. Talk with members of the business organizations (that you join and those that you don’t join). Most business schools offer activities that are directly related to your program. You should try to join as many of these activities as you reasonably have time for. They provide valuable networking opportunities. The people you meet in your spare time could turn into lifelong contacts. Regular participation in specific groups and activities also gives you something to put on your resume after you get out of school.
Talk to your fellow classmates. Your classmates were accepted to business school for a reason: they have potential. By networking directly with your business classmates, you build relationships with people who will end up with important jobs in your industry. Your classmates could be potential business partners, employers, employees, suppliers, or clients. Getting to know them while you are still peers is a great opportunity that you don’t want to let pass you by.

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