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Preparing Students for Success in Business

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In a speech to newspapers editors in 1925, President Calvin Coolidge uttered a now-famous line: “The business of America is business."

Nearly 100 years later, Howard Community College (HCC) offers esteemed programs that prepare students for the nation’s commerce.

As chair of HCC’s business program, Professor Linda Mercurio sees lots of students who remind her of herself at that age; they kind of know what they want to study, but they aren’t exactly sure. Likewise, she sees lots of students who come in with clear and focused goals.

Fortunately, there are pathways to success for each group.

“We have two degree programs and two certificate programs,” Mercurio says. “The degree programs are business administration, and general studies with a business emphasis. Both are fully transferable to four-year bachelor’s degree programs.”

HCC’s business administration degree is a great option for students who work fulltime or have other obligations. It can be completed fully online, allowing tremendous leeway for pace and scheduling. The program is laser-focused, providing the foundational grounding for students who are determined to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business.

The general studies degree has more flexibility for students who aren’t sure which way they want to go in business. “They get to explore a little bit more with electives, see if they like technology more or leadership more,” Mercurio says. “But the beginning courses in both degrees are the same. If students start off in general studies and then switch to business administration, they’re not going to lose any credits.”

Alternatively, students might pursue a certificate in data business analytics, a sought-after credential in a high-demand field. Data analytics are applied to virtually any given industry, and students on this path can add stackable certifications down the line, helping them stand out among other job-seekers.

“It’s great as a standalone certificate to help you advance in your career, but it’s also great for students who want an associate’s degree with a special, added certification, too,” Mercurio says. “All of our course in data analytics certificate roll up into the general business studies degree."

“You can have a degree and an added high-value certificate without having to spend extra money. It’s good for traditional students and individuals looking to upgrade their professional skills.”

Entrepreneurship & Creativity is among the required, foundational courses taken by HCC business students. For students interested in starting their own business – or enhancing one they already started – HCC offers an entrepreneurship certificate. It allows students to participate in a rapid-pitch competition, with cash prizes that are applied toward tuition.

“The competition is a well-attended, high-profile event with judges from the business community,” Mercurio says. “The certificate is great for people who have a business idea and want support in launching the business. They can figure out who they are as entrepreneurs, which skills and capacities they need to develop, or which people they need to find and partner with.”

She emphasizes that it’s okay if students don’t know which path to pursue. Because all paths can be folded into another after a few classes, there’s no penalty for early indecisiveness. Students can take some courses and then determine the next step, without experiencing the financial burden of taking unnecessary classes.

"We're all trying figure ourselves out and determine what we want to be when we grow up,” Mercurio says. “The more relationships and trust we build with students, the more they come to us as human being and we can help guide them.

“We love being in the classroom, teaching, when they get those aha moments.”

Business begins with such moments. And HCC is well-positioned to foster them – before, during and after.

Topics: Career Focus
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