Welch College Of Business Striving To Improve Freshmen Experience

News Story: September 1, 2011

Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB) is making changes in an effort to improve the college experience for freshmen business students. “Our goal is to make their experience more intentional and more personal from the very beginning,” said Sean Heffron, director of Student Experience for the WCOB.

The first change was a program called “Mind Your Business” that took place the week before the fall semester -- despite the inconvenient arrival of tropical storm Irene. A total of 40 freshmen planning to major in business came together for a variety of activities, including corporate training and team building, visits to local businesses and interaction with business leaders, cultural negotiation seminars and leadership presentations from area companies, such as Barnum Financial Group, Northwestern Mutual and Pitney Bowes.

“Feedback from both students and parents was extremely positive. It is so important that the students’ identity as business students is created and developed immediately, and we are achieving that,” Heffron said.

On Labor Day evening, the WCOB hosted a banquet for incoming students interested in the College. Approximately 115 students attended after hearing about the dinner during orientation and through an e-mail invitation. The students dined with their Welch mentors -- the start of relationship with a junior-year business student that will last throughout their freshman year. “The freshmen will have a chance to attend upper-level classes and Welch Experience events with their mentors,” Heffron said. “The mentors will also assist with major declaration, creating a resume and other freshman transition issues.”

Eighteen members of the WCOB faculty also attended the dinner. “It was an opportunity for the students to meet the faculty in a relaxed atmosphere and find out that we are real people, too,” Heffron noted. “The faculty talked about classroom expectations and answered questions from the students. I am extremely grateful to them for shortening their holiday to come out and meet the incoming students.”

Also new this year is a business adviser for all first-year business students in addition to their freshman adviser. “This gives the students another intentional connection with the WCOB who can answer questions and guide them along their career path. In the past, a business major could go until second semester of sophomore year without taking any business classes. That scenario can compromise the identity of students who think of themselves as a business person,” Heffron said.

These examples are the beginning of a four-year program called the Welch Experience that delivers weekly personal, academic and career development to all WCOB students.