By: Jordan Wong
A couple of months ago, as the school year was coming to a close, I started to finalize my summer activities. At first, I wasn’t really sure what to do. For the past two summers, I attended the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) program at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, where I took science courses. While CTY was fun and a great learning experience, I felt like this summer I wanted to do something different and explore other areas of interest. After doing some research with my mom and talking to my friends, I started to learn about pre-college programs – multi-week programs for rising high school juniors and seniors hosted at a college that taught classes akin to the ones taught at college, albeit in a very condensed form. My friends were also going across the country to these programs – from New England to California. After looking at many colleges, I decided on one – a pre-college program at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. I decided to apply here because of the school’s excellent academic reputation, it was closer to home and they had one specific course that caught my eye – a course called “Entrepreneurial Incubator”, a class to teach prospective business students about being an entrepreneur. Since I wanted to explore if business and entrepreneurship would interest me, I decided to apply to this program and test the waters. The application process entailed submitting a copy of my PSAT scores, school transcript and obtaining two teacher recommendations. After waiting for a couple of weeks, I got my acceptance email, and was excited to start planning my trip to Atlanta.
After packing my bags, flying to Atlanta, and getting a rental car, I finally get to Emory with my parents on Father’s Day. As we drive through the campus on the way to the dorm, I’m amazed. I see the marble of the campus buildings and the expansive fields surrounding me, and I’m completely impressed at the beautiful campus. After I get to the dorm, I’m welcomed by a huge group of counselors who help me check in and lead me to my room. I unpack my bags, and wait for my roommate, who comes a little later from Los Angeles. We talk for the rest of the day, as we go through the opening day festivities. The next day, we wake up and go to class. My class was in the Goizueta Business School building at Emory, one of the nicest buildings on campus. I woke up early, ate breakfast, and walked to my class. My teacher’s name was Buffy Mosley, a former Ph.D. student at Emory and an entrepeneur. She told us what our course entailed, and what the schedule was for the rest of the session. The core of the class, however, was learning about and creating our own business plan while working as a team. So, throughout the rest of the session, we learned just that. From watching episodes of “Shark Tank” to brainstorming ideas for a business, I learned many things on how to envision and plan out a business.
My team consisted of three people. One person was from Georgia, and the other was from Tennessee. Our idea was a product called TrakPak – a smart backpack for the 21st Century. I thought of this idea because on the first day of the session, I forgot my backpack at a hall meeting in the DUC (Dobbs University Center), a common area for Emory students. I realized that if my backpack were to have a tracker, I would have been able to find it right away, and wouldn’t have to scramble around the campus looking for it, like I did. The backpack was to have batteries, a tracker, and other cool gadgets for a tech heavy lifestyle. Throughout every day of the camp, I thought of ways I could improve our business plan and make it more unique, which was a lot of fun. We also had many speakers come in to teach us about the realities of running a business, for they were actual business owners. At the end of the course, a group of entrepreneurs judged our product and business plan and our team got third place, which felt pretty great and we were fairly happy with the result.
Our business class was only one aspect of our pre-college lives. There was also a class every afternoon (provided by Emory) called College 101, wherein Emory admissions officers taught us everything about the college admissions and application process. These classes included lessons on what selective colleges require for admission, how to balance your high school course load and maintain a good grade point average (GPA), preparing for standardized testing, how to apply for financial aid, and how to write your college essay. This class provided even more insight into a complicated college admissions process, which I found very helpful.
We also had a lot of time to do many other activities and go on field trips. As a group, we went to a Braves game, the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola museum, and Six Flags over Georgia. We also had the option to go on several other field trips, such as the one in Lenox Mall, a huge mall in Atlanta. Also, if we didn’t want to go on these trips, we were able to stay back and use the facilities at the campus, such as their gym facility with basketball courts and a huge swimming pool.
In the end, I feel like this experience not only acquainted me with business, but also with college life in general. I was able to experience balancing schoolwork and fun, something crucial in the life of a college student. I think this program motivated me to not only further pursue business as a potential major, but also to look forward to college life. Additionally, I believe that the business skills I acquired, such as business planning and cost evaluation, will help me in my work with Joshua’s Heart, particularly in coming up with creative ideas for fundraising and planning on how to execute these ideas successfully.