For many of us, the first week back to class was like getting back on the bike. For others, it was a brand new experience. The first semester of college can be a great time to explore your opportunities, and the school of business at Pacific Lutheran University offers plenty.
In order to declare a business major, you must first complete eight foundation courses. These courses give you the basic skills you will need to succeed in the upper level classes.
Once you have completed the prerequisites and been accepted into the School of Business, it’s time to enroll in some 300 level classes and potentially start thinking about a concentration. At PLU, we have five concentration options: accounting, finance, management and human resources, marketing or individualized.
Accounting, or as my high school accounting teacher taught us, “the language of business,” is centered on creating financial records for organizations. The skills learned from accounting can also be applied to bookkeeping and auditing while providing an in-depth understanding of a company, a necessity if you plan to manage one.
A concentration within the school of business at PLU requires you to take a specialized, some would say “concentrated,” set of electives that focus entirely on your chosen concentration. An accounting concentration requires 24 credits in the selected courses on top of the BBA core classes required of all business majors.
The finance concentration studies the relationships between resource allocation, time, value and risk. It also brings to light the differences between how these relationships vary or change whether dealing with them on a corporate or personal level. At the personal level, finance deals more with investments, while in corporate finance, the bigger issues are asset and resource allocation.
Financial professionals are not only well-compensated in the workplace today, they are sought after and respected for the value they add to any organization. There are careers in finance in every sector ranging from government to private wealth management, it is only a matter of narrowing down your options. The concentration requires 20 credits in the selected electives.
3. Management and Human Resources
The management and human resources concentration is aptly named in that it prepares students for beginning management positions and teaches how to deal with the humans within an organization.
In your first upper division human resources class, you learn about many different scenarios, psychological phenomena, ethics and general types of people that you may have to deal with in any given organization. Further classes narrow the study to specific organizations or how to deal with people in a global context.
Management and human resources not only gives students the tools they need to lead and manage a group of people, it also conditions them to be strong communicators who make ethical decisions and understand any kind of person you might work with. The management and human resources concentration requires 16 credits in selected electives.
Marketing can be a controversial subject, but at its most basic level it is about fulfilling the needs of the customer. Whether the customer realizes that they have a need for a product or service is up to the marketing team. People can also be marketed and branded, as we have seen from the Michael Jordan line of clothing produced by Nike.
Jobs range from advertising to public relations to online marketing and everywhere in between. At PLU there is a special focus on ethical marketing, since ads come out all the time that breed controversy because they promote stereotypes or target an inappropriate audience for the product. The concentration requires 16 credits in the selected electives.
In the case that you want to go into business, but you do not think any of the concentrations are for you, there is an option to create your own concentration with the help of a faculty member. You have to choose 16 credits in upper level business electives that relate to each other in some purposeful way. Students wishing to follow this path need to create a proposal that is endorsed by a faculty member and need to have the approval of the Dean of the School of Business.
I came to PLU knowing that I wanted to go into the school of business and thought that I wanted to go into accounting for sure. Two semesters and one finance course later, I had changed my mind and decided to go for the finance concentration.
There is no need to know exactly what you want to do or study right away, not even after a year of college. But if you think you do know what you want to do, I recommend you keep an open mind, and you might just find that another field of study suits you better. For first-years, I can only say that now is the time to do some exploring and see just what kind of scholar you want to be.
Eight Foundation Courses
1. BUSA 201: Introduction to Business in the Global Environment
2. CSCE 120: Computerized Information Systems
3. ECON 101: Principles of Microeconomics
4. STAT 231: Introductory Statistics
5. BUSA 202: Financial Accounting
6. BUSA 203: Managerial Accounting
Either of these recommended for the finance concentration:
7. MATH 128: Linear Models and Calculus, An Introduction
8. MATH 151: Introduction to Calculus are recommended for the finance concentration.