ACHIEVE program to teach non-majors basic business sense

For its directors, the ACHIEVE Summer Business Institute at TCU can be boiled down to one concept: business exposure.ACHIEVE, a summer program run by the Tandy Center for Executive Leadership , is a crash course in business for non-majors and, as ACHIEVE Program Director Deb Baker said, a vital knowledge base for anyone entering the workforce.

“Business skills are essential for any major,” Baker said. “This is a really good way to give students the skills they need before or after graduation.”

The program, which will run May 14 to June 8, is geared toward non-business majors completing their junior or senior years, or recent college graduates.

Weekday classes include guest speakers, field trips to area businesses or lectures on any of ACHIEVE’s three focus areas: leadership, essential business concepts and career development skills.

As for why non-business students should participate, the directors cited numerous reasons.

For one, Baker said, as competition to get in to the business school stiffens, many students are being forced to declare other majors.

For those who retain their interest in business but “just can’t hack it in accounting,” she said, “this at least gets them some exposure. It also helps a lot of our participants determine whether or not they want to go to graduate school for their MBA.”

Beyond those reasons, ACHIEVE Academic Director Laura Meade said, lies one that is more industry-driven.

“Employers will get a bright mathematics or economics major and say ‘oh if they just understood some fundamentals of business’ … and now they can,” Meade said.

But the program’s directors are not the only ones who will attest to the practicality of a certification from the program.

Erica Flukinger, a 2006 TCU graduate and ACHIEVE alumna, re-affirmed the program’s value in spite of her pre-enrollment skepticism.

Flukinger said she wasn’t interested in taking summer school classes but said the program didn’t feel like summer school.

“It’s not comprised of a marathon of note taking and test taking – with this you just want to learn and take it all in as much as possible,” Flukinger said.

That reaction is what Meade aimed for going into last year’s session.

“I really emphasized with the professors that they have to design their modules for interactive learning because there are no grades,” Meade said. “The primary carrot that we have is not there, so we have to make it interesting.”

Even after a successful 2006 session with satisfied alumni, however, Baker re-emphasized that the program has its limits.

“It isn’t as valuable as a business degree,” Baker said, “But they go to their first jobs and at least know the difference in a balance sheet and an income statement – they at least speak the language of business.