Many undergraduates major in business in hopes of being well-prepared for a career. However, Arum and Roksa (2010) find business students perform poorly relative to peers on measures of academic gains and employers report that few college graduates are well-prepared for business careers (Lumina Foundation, 2013). Experiential courses have the potential to engage students deeply and encourage critical thinking while developing important business skills. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
This paper proposes several attributes of successful experiential courses and uses a student-managed portfolio as an example of a successful model.
Student-managed portfolios can improve educational and career outcomes for students.
Student-managed investment funds can provide a vehicle for teaching students research, critical thinking and writing skills while encouraging them to integrate knowledge from a broad range of business disciplines to understand a firm’s business model.
While experiential programs are touted as addressing these shortcomings, many academics remain skeptical of experiential programs which too often focus on showy trips, passively listening to important people or performing shallow analyses at the expense of developing a deep understanding of how to identify and solve complex problems. This paper offers some insight into important features of a successful experiential program.
The program owes a deep debt of gratitude to the D.A. Davidson Student Investment Portfolio program and to Hal Milner for their incredible financial and professional support. The author is grateful to the many professionals who have attended the author’s student presentations and offered their candid feedback and to the author’s colleagues, Mike Lemmon and Jeff Coles, who have collaborated on the co-requisite valuation course which is a critical component of our program. The program would be nothing without the dedication and enthusiasm of the more than 300 students who have contributed to the success of this endeavor. Opinions are solely those of the author.
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