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What are the basic questions I should ask my advisor as I enter my career field (business in general)?

I'm planning on attending community college this fall for general business with an associates degree. I want to own a small business online. Although a certificate is not required, I do want to know what I'm getting into owning a small business. I'll be setting up an appointment with my advisor soon and would like to know some helpful suggestions.

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Dan’s Answer

Hi Alicia- You are very wise in gathering information now as you plan your college course work and as you consider starting your own small business in the future. In addition to preparing questions for your advisor, you may also consider talking with small business owners within in your community. Questions about starting out, essential classes that would be useful/practical, what are the challenges/frustrations of being a small business owner, what are the positives , what are the things that are satisfying/ motivating , what are some financial considerations etc, In addition, I would strongly recommend you get in touch with an organization called SCORE, made up of retired executives who have owned/ operated small businesses and are very willing to share all they know with you. Their website is www. Score.org. Wishing you all the best and great success as you pursue your dreams
Dan
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Dino’s Answer

Hello Alicia! 😊 It's absolutely fantastic to see you embarking on a journey of career exploration - this is such an important and exciting aspect of personal growth. Talking to your advisor about career planning is a wise decision, and I'm thrilled that you're considering this path.

Now, if you have a passion for entrepreneurship and a desire to make money while being your own boss, then pursuing a business venture is undoubtedly an excellent choice for you. Remember that many of today's well-established companies began as small businesses and grew into something incredible over time.

What's even more encouraging is that there's a wealth of support available for business enterprises, both small and large. You can definitely use this to your advantage as you forge your own path to success. A great place to start is right within your own community, where numerous business establishments have flourished over time. Take the opportunity to speak with local business owners about their experiences—learn how they started, the problems they faced, and the challenges they overcame.

By exploring various business ventures that genuinely interest you, you'll be able to pinpoint an area in which to focus your efforts. This focused approach will increase your chances of creating a successful business plan—one that could very well lead to an amazing empire of your own in the future. So, go forth and conquer, Alicia! The world of business awaits your brilliance 🌟✨.

Dino recommends the following next steps:

Do some market research and find out the in demand and dying businesses nowadays.
Attend some seminars on young enterpreneurship in the community center or in your school.
Interview entrepreneurs in your community and learn from them.
Good luck !!!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much for the advice. Alicia
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Stuart’s Answer

I can't speak for every community college, obviously. But at the two where I've worked as an academic counselor/adviser, the Business Administration degree has been one of the more proscribed majors. Meaning that there's not an awful lot of elective decisions to be made. It'll probably be some variation on this:

- Two composition courses
- A math track that includes any developmental coursework needed > statistics > precalculus > applied calculus
- Two lab science courses
- Two economics courses (micro and macro)
- Two accounting courses
- A business administration course
- A humanities elective (this is one of the few decisions you might need to make
- Perhaps a social science elective (potentially another decision point)

The best advice I could give on what to discuss with an adviser would be around WHERE you want to transfer. In my experience, what you want to specialize in after you transfer doesn't have a significant bearing on your associate's coursework. The differentiation will come after transfer, depending on your selection of management, accounting, marketing, or whatever your specialization is.

Where you want to transfer, though, may help in determining what you do with those scant electives. In all likelihood, the humanities elective would be up to you. I admit I'm biased (having been a literature major in undergrad myself), but a course with significant writing built into it is a good choice. It needn't necessarily be a 200-level literature course. But a lot of 4-year institutions will have you do one anyway, so you may as well do them at community college prices.

As for the social science (again in my experience), it's hard to go wrong with an introductory psychology course. A lot of the transfer schools I've seen specifically recommend it. But that's a question for your adviser. What your target school(s) look for. I suggest you ask them whether there are established transfer guides in place for the business schools that interest you.

It pays to follow their recommendations pretty closely because business programs are often "second gate" or "limited enrollment" majors. In other words, getting into the university is one process (and may be covered by a guaranteed admission or articulation agreement). Getting into the BUSINESS PROGRAM is a separate (and more challenging) process. So hewing close to their transfer recommendations is a good idea.

I'd ask them for the average GPA of people being admitted to the business programs at your target school(s). That will give you a good sense of where you stand and how competitive you are.

You might also ask whether there are business related programs or clubs/activities at the community college with which you might get involved. Business-specific programs may include special scholarship funding or even admission agreements with specific 4-year schools. Best to find that out and get involved early.

My advice would be to think about the "sequences" of classes you've got. In other words, you have to take A before B before C. That's not a new concept to any high school student, of course. But it's worth keeping your eyes on, because it's not unusual for business schools to only admit students in the fall semester, so you want to look at those chains of classes and make sure you're doing one of them each semester, to keep you on target for your intended graduation date. For instance, look at math. (That's a big one for business majors.)

Let's say you have to one developmental math class. (Obviously, I have no idea whether that's true, but just for illustrative purposes...). If your goal is to start school in Fall 2023 and graduate two years later in Spring 2025, then your sequence might look like this:

Developmental math (Fall 2023) >> Statistics (Spring 2024) >> Precalculus (Fall 2024) >> Applied Calculus (Spring 2025)

You see that you haven't got a lot of time to muck about. If you don't take math one of those semesters, you may need to double up on math one semester (i.e., take stats and precalculus in the same semester, as they're not actually related) or take a summer class to stay on pace. Math is typically the longest "chain" for a business major.

In terms of what to ask an adviser, my advice would be to ask them some of these questions. I suspect their answers will resemble mine. If they don't, that's okay. They know the schools in your area better than I do. But I hope I've given you some idea of the depth of questions you could ask. Basically, the associate's in business administration is fairly specific. So, theoretically, you should be able to leave that appointment with two things: 1) an advising sheet that lists all the classes you need to take for your associate's degree and 2) a transfer guide for your intended transfer programs, explaining why you arrived at the decisions you did regarding your electives.

Does that make sense?

After that, think about what your specialization will be when you transfer. When you're able, seek out opportunities to connect with the specific advisers for those programs at your target school. Work with them, make yourself known to them, and keep your grades up so you're competitive.

Kudos to you, by the way. That was a great question to be thinking about. Exactly the sort of planning that'll see you through this process!
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Eileen’s Answer

You want to make sure any course you take can transfer appropriately to a 4 year school if you decide that path. You also want to make sure your business major also transfers appropriately - which is in line with my prior sentence. And, you need to see if the school has an internship program so you can get a real feel as to how a business is actually run =- if not - get a job in a business - even part-time to see what is needed.
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Rafeh’s Answer

Hey there! To figure out if this is the right choice for you, go ahead and share your goals and orientation with the experts - that's what they're there for! Feel free to ask them about the various business paths out there and seek their guidance in creating a plan for your career. Remember, they're here to help you succeed! 😊
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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Alicia,

Kudos to you for pursuing your college degree and making the community college an excellent choice for learning and starting your academic and professional career. By starting with the AA degree, you can transfer to a major university and pursue the BA and then MBA degrees later on.

As a former college advisor, I can tell you that you should ask for two specific things:
1. An educational plan (degree audit) for the AA degree with strategies to build in certifications as you go along. Don’t just let them give you a list of courses to take for the fall semester. The plan will give you an overview of the entire AA degree and prepare you for transfer.
2. Career option classes. You can also ask about taking small business, e-commerce, on-line marketing and stores, or entrepreneurial classes as well. These classes are often taught at the certification level and may not necessarily fit in the Business AA degree pathway, but these classes could be additional certifications you can gather along the way to build your resume now and not wait until later. Theses courses may not be wasted but may count towards additional electives for the AA degree if allowed by the school.

Once you are done with the academic advisor, make an appointment to see the career advisor to discuss your career pathway as well. These advisors know more about job or career building, job fairs and other fairs that you can use to speak to businesses about participating in a business incubator, getting a business mentor or asking for funding and other resources available to help you launch a business even while in school.

The possibilities are endless, so take advantage of opportunities on and off campus that can open doors for you to launch your next business idea. Please don’t just take classes and go home, but explore, explore and explore.

Side note: if one advisor isn’t helpful, please don’t stick with him or her. Ask to speak with another advisor until you find the one who will help you focus on your goals and provide the two things I mentioned earlier.

All the best,
Dr. T.
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