Archive for January, 2012

Obama Warns Universities: Tone Down the Tuition Increases

President Obama, during his recent State of the Union address, told colleges and universities they need to slow the rapid rise of tuition prices or risk losing some federal funding (here is the link to the article I read about this: “Warnings of Unintended Consequences”).  This blog post will be short, and related to graduate programs (like MBAs) as well as undergraduate programs.  But here is the problem I see – this proposal only attacks one small symptom of the numerous issues plaguing higher education.

The rising costs of college have started to become a significant burden on the American middle class.  It was recently reported that student loan debt amounts have now surpassed households’ credit card debt.  So it would appear that the rising costs of earning a degree would be to blame.  But here is my complaint – that’s the only reason college is expensive and debt levels are so high.  The price of college could be rising for a number of reasons: higher demand for college education, higher retirement and benefit pay for professors and administrators, fewer contributions from alumni, etc.  And increasing student debt has been a rallying cry for Occupy Wall Street protestors, but rising tuition prices may only be one small part of the reason for higher levels of debt.  Other reasons could include the changing nature of work, globalization and connectivity (which means American workers must literally compete for jobs against workers all over the world), stagnant income levels, and higher American unemployment.

The point is, it seems to me that the President is simply attacking a symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself.  If you were having a headache because your body was fighting an infection, you wouldn’t want to take an Excedrin to get rid of the headache.  The infection would still remain, and it would do you more harm in the long-run.  When it comes to issues that have dramatic effects on all Americans, like rising tuition costs, I hope that our leaders tackle the actual problems instead of simply battling the symptoms.

Ok, well that was kind of a random blog topic for this week, but next week’s topic will be CSUF MBA related!  Until then, here is an interesting article I found this morning:

“Is a Music Industry MBA Right For You?” – I honestly had no idea that music industry MBAs even existed, but this article showed me you can find them in the US and the UK.  Besides the fact that a music industry MBA sounds like a fun degree to pursue, this article asks whether it is even necessary.  Perhaps, due to the changing nature of the music business, a degree in programming or digital media would be a better fit.  What do you think?  Sound off in the comments section below.

Turn Your Business Ideas Into Cash!

As a new semester beckons, I wanted to share a business opportunity offered by CSUF’s Mihaylo School of Business.  Specifically, it is a business idea opportunity – even more specifically, a business plan contest.  CSUF is hosting its first ever business plan contest in conjunction with the school’s Center for Entrepreneurship.  All students are welcome to participate (not just MBAs) and the grand prize is $3,000 in cash.

I am certain you have a great business idea floating around in your head you desperately want to share with the world, test its viability, and eventually turn into a thriving business.  Now’s your chance!  Each team must consist of at least one CSUF student, and the contest is searching for “new, independent ventures in the seed, start-up, or early growth stages.”  So potential businesses and existing start-ups are eligible for the contest and are eligible to win a share of the $8,000 in cash prizes.

My brother and I were evaluating a business idea for the contest, but it was extremely technical and our research revealed it is not as feasible as we originally hoped.  We are undeterred however, and my goal before earning my MBA is to enter the business plan contest.  I love the idea of creating something new, nurturing its growth and turning what was once just an idea into a tangible, profitable venture.

Check out the contest rules here and submit your business plan through the TITANium – Business Plan Contest Community.  CSUF is also offering Boot Camps to assist students preparing for the contest – the next Boot Camp will be held on January 30,2012, from 1 – 5pm.  Contact Travis Lindsay (tlindsay@fullerton.edu) if you wish to attend.  I will provide contest updates through my Twitter account @orangecountymba, so be sure to follow me for contest, CSUF, and MBA news and information.

Good luck to everyone who enters the contest!  If you are submitting a plan, leave a comment below and share (what you can) about your idea – I’d love to hear about it!

Here are a couple of interesting articles I recently read and want to share:

“5 Exercises in Perceptive Listening” – I have yet to try out the techniques recommended in this article, but I firmly believe listening will soon become a highly sought-after skill in our Twitter/Facebook/Youtube/instant gratification-obsessed culture.  The article serves as a nice reminder that sometimes it is better to listen than to be heard, and offers suggestions on how to practice that.

“Quit: Do It Now” – Most career articles explain how to interview and job search like a pro.  And I am in no way advocating that you quite your job after reading this WSJ story.  But I found it thought-provoking, because I have yet to read an article that provided a blueprint for quitting a job.  This is not anything I am considering anytime soon, but it was an interesting read nonetheless.

First MBA Semester Lessons Learned

My first semester at CSUF’s MBA program is officially over, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience.  The differences between my undergraduate studies and the MBA courses were pronounced, and I’ve touched on them in a previous post.  There are a few lessons I learned during my first semester, and hope to incorporate them into my upcoming spring semester:

I learned I need to prepare for class ahead of time.  Each professor posted their class syllabus online and I ordered my textbooks a couple weeks before the semester started.  However, I didn’t realize the professors expected students to have read the first chapters of their books before the first day of class.  Needless to say, I hadn’t read the chapters ahead of time and played catch-up the rest of the semester.  Next semester I will read those first chapters before the semester starts so I can understand more of the lectures and not be as stressed trying to catch-up on the reading.

I learned that doing the homework makes a big difference when it’s time to study for an exam.  My accounting professor assigned several practice problems for each chapter we read, and I always waiting until I studied for an exam to attempt them.  But similar to the issues with the reading, I then played catch-up and hadn’t allowed myself enough time to learn the material.  I used to be very good at doing work when it was assigned, but balancing my job and studies has been a huge adjustment.  Instead of putting off my reading or practice problems after a long day at work, I will work on making a little progress each day in order to make the assignments more manageable.  This will cut down on the end of semester stress and help me to better learn the material.

I learned that I need to actively meet more of my fellow MBA classmates.  Anyone can strike up a conversation with the person they sit next to in class.  I found myself wanting to learn about my classmates’ occupations and career goals, but too often didn’t bother to introduce myself and ask them those questions.  No one can read my mind and know I want to talk with them – so I need to be more active meeting my classmates.  One of my strategies is to interview classmates for future blog posts and sharing those conversations with you.  My hope is those conversations will lead to new relationships that enrich the MBA experience.

I promised myself I would make the most out of my MBA experience at CSUF.  In my mind, this includes joining a club or participating in an organization on campus.  I sent emails to several organizations, and was disappointed in the responses.  One organization said there weren’t any opportunities for students.  Another organization was geared more towards undergrads, and met only in the afternoons (when I’m working).  However, my goal next semester is to get involved on campus and I may be off to a good start.  I sent an email to the Center for Entrepreneurship asking if they have volunteer opportunities available, and I scheduled a meeting to find out what (if any) opportunities are available.  Hopefully, this will lead to greater involvement on campus and me getting more out of my MBA experience.

Finally, I learned to be extra thankful for my family, friends and loved ones that helped me during my first semester.  I am especially thankful for my wonderful girlfriend, who was so patient and understanding during the last several months.  Before class started, we often would get together 4+ times a week.  During the semester our time together was cut down a bit, but she was amazingly patient and accepting of my schedule.  She was a huge help during my first semester and I’m so thankful for her understanding and support.  I cannot wait to see what the spring semester has in store, but I know I am much better prepared now that I have one semester under my belt.

Here are a couple of interesting articles I read this past week:

“10 Hot Careers for 2012 and Beyond” – This Fortune article lists 10 of the careers and skills in highest demand from employers, and it’s particularly useful for graduates and MBA candidates unsure of where they see themselves after graduation.

“Top 5 Most Common Networking Mistakes” – I am a firm believer of the following networking philosophy: Networking relationships are give-and-take relationships.  By addressing these common mistakes, networkers can build relationships that are beneficial for both parties involved.