Category Archives: Randall

A Season for New Beginnings

It’s hard to believe that summer 2010 is almost already in the past.  For me the end of this summer will mean several things:

1.    The end of my first year in the Elon MBA program.  While cohorts (those who entered the program at the same time, e.g. Fall of 2009) are cohesive, members also have the freedom to move through the program at their own individual paces.  Some members of my cohort are already more than halfway through the program and will be receiving their degree in May 2011.  Others will graduate at some point during the following year.  Still others are moving at a slower pace and will finish sometime after that.  As for me, I’m on pace to be almost halfway to graduation by end of this month.

2.    The end of my turn in the blog rotation.  While I have enjoyed the opportunity to communicate with prospective (and current) students, this will be my final blog entry as my turn in the rotation comes to an end.  Thanks for your interest in my entries, and I hope to see you around campus.

3.    The end of another great Elon MBA international trip.  Twice a year Elon MBA (and law) students have a wonderful opportunity to study business overseas.  This summer the trip was to Ireland.  While I did not get to go on this one, I am planning to go in the future.  The winter trips usually go to Asia, and the summer trips to Europe.  Students who go always come back raving about the experience!

4.    The beginning of another special opportunity at Elon.  I just started my term on the Elon MBA SAA (Student-Alumni Association) Leadership Committee.  The MBA SAA is a great group of MBA program participants who plan and provide activities and events open to past and current Elon MBA students (and usually their families and friends as well).  There is normally at least one planned activity per month, including events such as the Golf Tournament, Wine Tasting, Race for the Cure, Annual Pig Roast/Picnic, organized group gatherings at professional baseball games, Elon football tailgate, and more!  I look forward to seeing you at one of those coming up!

Thanks again for your attention and interest over the past year, and be sure to say hi next time you see me on campus!


Elon MBA Highlight Reel

As promised in my previous post, I am now bringing you some of my (for fun) non-sports reasons I am enthusiastic about being a student at Elon University.  Following are some of the story lines from the 2009-10 school year:

  • Elon University remains the nation’s top-ranked master’s-level university for study abroad programs in the 2009 Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education.
  • The Daily Beast, one of the leading new Web-based media outlets, has named Elon one of the decade’s hottest colleges. The list of 15 colleges and universities ranks schools that make up a “whole new class of first-choice schools” that have “transformed the collegiate landscape” during the past 10 years.
  • The Princeton Review named Elon one of the nation’s “greenest” universities.
  • Many prestigious speakers have been brought to the area by Elon organizations, including in Spring 2010 Steve Young (former NFL superstar and currently a highly successful businessman) and Tim Berners-Lee (called by many the founder or father of the Internet) spoke at conference organized by Elon’s School of Communications.
  • Elon University has been named to the list of “Top Peace Corps Volunteer Producing Colleges and Universities” by the Peace Corps with 15 alumni serving in an agency that seeks to promote a better understanding between Americans and citizens of host nations.
  • Two teams of Elon students advanced to the final round of Stanford University’s Global Innovation Tournament, a contest where students around the world were challenged to make an impact on a global issue.  Approximately 1,000 student teams across the globe worked to address the challenge in eight days and conveyed their results in a short video posted to YouTube.

For those of you starting your MBA program in the fall, congratulations and I hope you are at least as enthusiastic as I am about your journey at Elon!  As for those of you still contemplating, what’s holding you back?  Share it with us, perhaps we can help answer your questions or resolve your concerns!

Reflections on the School Year (or, More Reasons I’m Proud of Elon)

For many students the school year has come to an end and they’re looking forward to a summer without schoolwork.  For me, the former applies but not the latter.  In a few days I start my first summer class, and by mid-August I should be almost halfway to my MBA degree after 11 short months!

Being the end of the ‘traditional’ school year, now seems an appropriate time to reflect.  For those of you in the ‘I just want to forget about school for the summer’ camp, don’t worry – this is a mostly ‘for fun’ post that won’t get into academics.

I’ve talked before in this blog about being proud of Elon, and as I reflect I can’t help but feel the pride building again.  Below are some more (fun) reasons I’m proud of my school:

  • The Elon Phoenix football team made the FCS playoffs and lost narrowly to the defending champions at their stadium!  They were ranked in the top 10 this year (FCS poll).
  • Wide receiver Terrell Hudgins received numerous accolades, including finishing second in voting for the Walter Payton award (which is presented annually to the top offensive player in the NCAA FCS).  He is one of the few football players to achieve being a three-time selection to the FCS All-America team.  Called “the most prolific pass-catcher in the history of NCAA Division 1 football,” Hudgins owns 10 NCAA receiving records (four of which he ‘grabbed’ from the legendary Jerry Rice)!  He is currently on the roster of the Dallas Cowboys, and is preparing to become the second Elon football player in the last four seasons to play in the NFL.
  • Elon excels not only in football, but in other sports as well.  For example, the baseball team won back-to-back Southern Conference regular-season championships in 2008 and 2009.  At the time of this writing, they are about to play in the semi-finals of the 2010 Southern Conference tournament.  They won 6 games (against only 1 loss – to nationally ranked North Carolina) against ACC teams this year!

By the way, I have lots of non-sports reasons for my pride as well – and plan to share those with you later this summer.  Thanks for reading!

A Flexible Fit

To each one of you reading this, I hope you are enjoying your spring (especially now that April 15 has passed)!  I am enjoying mine, but it has been very busy.  I doubled up my course load this term, and am taking both Economics and Organizational Behavior.  This reminds me of some of the things I appreciate about the Elon MBA program.

First, there are three terms (fall, winter and spring) during the traditional school-year calendar (September-May) instead of two.  This means you can take three classes (or more) in the same time frame that many others would only be taking two.

Second is the flexibility I have found in the staff at Elon.  When I gained some new information about finances and my life situation just prior to the start of the spring term, I decided to add an additional class at the very last minute (i.e. the week it started!).  Both my adviser and the professor gave quick last-minute approval and I didn’t miss a minute of class!  I don’t recommend this approach, but when I had some last-minute decisions to make due to external influences, they worked with me well and quickly!

In addition, I have enjoyed and appreciated (and yes, even liked!) every professor I’ve had so far.  I wasn’t so sure that would be the case when this economics class started, but even though it is rigorous and extremely challenging, I have found the professor to also be fun and very responsive.  In fact, every professor I’ve had has been very responsive and available to us as students.

Finally, the courses are arranged in such a way as to promote flexibility and the opportunity to take more than one in any given term (should you be so inclined).  Classes meet one night a week (Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday) and they are allocated well so that you have choices.  In addition, there are two summer terms – since the length (in number of weeks) is half that of a standard (fall, winter and spring) term, those classes meet twice a week (Monday and Thursday).

The List

The following are some useful bits of information prospective MBA students might or might not have picked up on in the Elon program literature and/or discussions with admissions.

  • You will end up taking in the range of 13-15 (depending on how you count them) classes at Elon to achieve your MBA degree. This number could grow by up to 4 if it is determined that you need some foundational work as a prerequisite to some of the MBA courses.  (Foundational courses can be taken at other schools in some, if not all, cases.)
  • Not all courses in the Elon MBA program are equal in terms of time commitment and effort required.  Before signing up for courses (especially if considering taking more than one in the same term), get some opinions from other students on which courses to take when you anticipate having more time available in a particular term vs. those to take when you anticipate being more crunched for time by other commitments.
  • Finally, consider your aptitudes and preferences.  For example, more technical or numbers-oriented folks may not be as challenged by the accounting or economics courses, but may find communications or marketing less comfortable than the average Elon MBA student.  The reverse is also true, of course, as one of my classmates found economics extremely difficult but thoroughly enjoyed the communications class!

Once again, if this raises any questions or thoughts, please leave us a comment!

Living in the Shadow

Hello folks, I know you’re out there so please let us hear from you!  The people who monitor measurements on this site have informed me that there are plenty of hits (i.e. readers), but we’re not getting nearly as much in the way of comments.  This blog is only useful if it contains information that is of benefit to you.  So please make your voice heard!  If we’re talking too much about ‘x’ and not enough about ‘y’, we need to know that!

If you have questions about Elon that we’re not covering, tell us!  This blog is here for you, not us – so help us make it helpful to you by telling us what you want to hear about.

I am currently taking a Communications class that is giving us much in the way of “hands-on” experience and opportunity.  We’re covering written and verbal communications (including presentations), career advice, leadership tips, and more.  This class is not just learning how to be better communicators, but applying what we’re learning as well.  It includes personal assessment (both initial and follow-up), ‘co-teaching’ the class by presenting on communication-related topics, and research including a job shadowing experience.

If you don’t know what I mean by “job shadowing,” in a nutshell it is identifying a person in a career that an MBA might aspire to, setting up an appointment with that person, and then interviewing and spending part of their work day with them (hence, the term ‘shadowing’).  Members in our class are shadowing CEOs, VPs, business owners and other leaders and managers.  The folks we have contacted have been very willing to share their wisdom and their work lives with us, and many good things are coming of it.

It was not a task I was initially thrilled with, but it has turned out quite well!  (This is another tool I had not heard about or gained experience with until I came to Elon.) Once again, let us know what questions you have and/or on which topics you would like more information or commentary!

Sharpen Your Pencils

Some of you reading this blog may have yet to take the GMAT, which is one of the requirements for being accepted to Elon.  Not only do you have to take the GMAT, but you have to achieve a minimum score – last I checked it was 500.

I have seen and heard many different recommendations on how to prepare for the test, and how much time to spend preparing, but in the end I think this is one of those things that depends very much on the individual.  I have talked to folks who spent very little time preparing, and have heard about others who spent at least a few hours a week over several months.  If you are recently out of school or very intellectual (or otherwise remember most of what you learned in algebra and geometry), and have a good handle on the English language (especially proper grammar), then you can probably get by with the former approach.

Personally I fell somewhere in between, setting aside much of my available time over the course of a month to devote to preparation, which even then may have been overkill as I ended up scoring closer to the maximum (800) than Elon’s minimum.  OK, not a lot closer, but for a non-genius like me it was something to smile about.

No matter which approach you take, you do need to at least familiarize yourself with the format of the test, and the types of questions on it.

There are numerous GMAT preparation aids available, including a couple practice tests, guidelines, tips, etc. which GMAC will make available to you when you sign up for the test.  I personally bought Barron’s preparation guide, and borrowed the GMAC preparation guide from the local library (in addition to using the free material mentioned in the previous sentence).  I should have saved my money and just used the GMAC aids.  While there was some helpful information in the Barron’s guide, I’m not convinced the practice questions in that guide are representative enough of the GMAT questions – and since GMAC actually produces the test it makes sense that their guide would be a more accurate tool.

Well, I didn’t intend to get that long-winded, but hopefully this is helpful information for you.  Thank you for visiting, and please leave us comments with your questions or thoughts!