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Empowering Underprepared Students in Business Education: Strategies from Temple University and Texas Tech

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In a recent roundtable discussion on bridging the gap for underprepared students in business education, Dr. Chuck Allen, Associate Vice Dean of Temple University's Fox School of Business, and Dr. Dino Villegas, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at Texas Tech University's Rawls College of Business, shared transformative strategies for supporting these students.

Academic Landscape

According to Dr. Allen, Temple University's Fox School of Business has implemented strategic initiatives and diverse educational offerings, catering to a broad spectrum of students. The focus on diversity and inclusion has enhanced recruitment efforts, contributing to a rich educational environment. Texas Tech's Rawls College of Business, as per Dr. Villegas, emphasizes real-life learning experiences and industry connections. Specialized programs, such as energy commerce, demonstrate impressive job placement rates, aligning with industry needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted students' academic and social readiness. Dr. Allen noted the varying levels of academic preparation among students, often lacking previous rigor and support. This has necessitated adjustments in teaching methods. Dr. Villegas highlighted gaps in critical thinking and problem-solving skills, stressing the importance of teaching students how to learn and transfer knowledge across different contexts.

Aligning with Employer Expectations

Changes in employer expectations are significantly shaping curriculum and career readiness efforts in business education. Both Temple University and Texas Tech University actively engage with alumni and industry leaders to ensure their programs remain relevant and effective. This collaboration helps identify gaps in skills and competencies that need addressing, allowing the institutions to adapt their curricula to meet evolving job market demands.

Temple University utilizes advisory boards comprising alumni and industry experts to inform curriculum development and adjustments, ensuring that educational content remains aligned with industry standards. Similarly, Texas Tech gathers feedback from alumni and recruiters, focusing on the importance of both technical skills and the ability to think critically and solve unstructured problems.

Dr. Villegas emphasized the need to balance career readiness with broader educational goals, ensuring that students not only possess strong foundational knowledge but also excel in applying this knowledge in real-world scenarios. Both institutions stress the importance of soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability. Temple University incorporates leadership development programs and digital badging to help students build and demonstrate these essential skills, while Texas Tech focuses on relationship-building and unscripted communication.

By integrating technical and soft skills, Temple University and Texas Tech University aim to produce graduates who are job-ready and capable of thriving in their professional and personal lives.

Academic and Social Support Initiatives

Temple University engages high school students through pre-enrollment programs, providing exposure to college-level coursework and building confidence. On campus, robust tutoring services and a freshman seminar course help students navigate their academic journey. Texas Tech has a revamped first-year experience course introducing students to different business areas while focusing on essential college success skills. The Rawls College also employs student success specialists who proactively support struggling students.

Both institutions recognize the importance of fostering a sense of community. Temple University's student organizations and engagement opportunities, such as "Togetherness Tuesday," foster a sense of belonging. The Fox School celebrates student achievements through recognition programs. Texas Tech focuses on unscripted communication and relationship-building within the curriculum, developing well-rounded graduates who are socially adept.

Leading the Way

Addressing both academic and social challenges through holistic support strategies equips underprepared students for success in business education. Institutions like Temple University and Texas Tech University are leading the way by implementing innovative programs and fostering a supportive environment, ultimately empowering students to achieve their full potential.

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