Hard skills or soft skills? The Next Carson Coug business program says both

Washington State University’s Carson College of Business announced a revised undergraduate program, the Next Carson Coug, which will roll out to undergraduate students beginning fall 2019.
A college task force developed the program to transform undergraduate business education at WSU; it was passed unanimously by the WSU faculty senate in early February.
“We are so excited to implement this new program after more than two years of hard work. By creating new opportunities, we feel confident any Carson graduate will go into the workforce as a successful up-and-coming business leader,” said Chip Hunter, college dean. “The Next Carson Coug program aims to ultimately enrich the state with stronger job candidates, more ethical and collaborative businesses and higher standards.”
“The skills and experiences students need today will be needed in the future: communication, critical thinking, teamwork and the ability to work across silos,” said WSU alumna Phyllis Campbell, Pacific Northwest chairman, JP Morgan Chase & Co. “The Next Carson Coug curriculum will help students develop these and other skills, such as cultural fluency and a global mindset, that will prepare them to be successful in an increasingly diverse workforce.”

The freshman experience

The Next Carson Coug program will add new business courses to introduce freshman and sophomores to the college earlier, and students will declare a major at the end of freshman year versus at the end of sophomore year. With an earlier exposure to the business program and faculty, students will be better prepared to excel in their business major classes in their sophomore year.

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Filling the skill gap for new grads

In the Pacific Northwest, the rapid pace of innovation and change has made it necessary for businesses to evolve faster than ever before, requiring employees to evolve with them. New graduates entering the workforce must have a suite of technical business acumen as well as “soft” skills such as communication, collaboration and ethical behavior that allow them to solve a wide variety of business problems. Carson Cougcurriculum will also focus heavily on professional development, from working in teams to learning about the job application process.
“My communication skills improved drastically during my time at the Carson College of Business,” said Christine Sizemore, recent Carson College graduate and Dell Technologies pre-sales engineer. “By attending career development and professional networking events offered through the business program, I was able to hone my skills and improve my confidence in public speaking, regardless of if I’m speaking with team members or executive leadership.”

The in-class experience

Studies suggest students retain more knowledge when learning in smaller, more individualized environments that encourage hands-on experiences. The new program will reduce class sizes from an average of 500 to approximately 70 students per class. Faculty will have more flexibility in what they can teach as they prepare to expand the experiential components in the classroom.

Co-curricular requirements

Lastly, students will be required to participate in co-curricular activities through a new milestone system that provides a menu of activities and tracks involvement. Co-curricular activities include joining clubs, participating in recruitment activities and internships and effectively using professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn. These activities will provide students an opportunity to build professional skills and develop a portfolio of activities that are documented, as well as make connections throughout the business community.
The freshman courses will be rolled out in fall of 2019. Sophomore level courses will be implemented in the fall of 2020 as the first generation of Next Carson Coug students advance through the coursework.