Tools for Students to Bolster Their Business Acumen Prior to College

Students attend college for a variety of reasons, but most expect to get some amount of career preparation out of the experience, even if it’s just that “piece of paper” employers require. Some young adults have very clear goals and expectations for what they will get out of college—they want to become doctors, lawyers, or even artists.

Of course, not every student knows exactly what they want to do with their life when they head off for college, so it’s good that they don’t need to declare a major right away. However, heading into college with some preparation beyond academics can be helpful.

Learning some basic business concepts and skills can be a great way for students to get ready for their college experience and ultimately, their future careers. Business acumen will serve students well in a variety of ways, whether or not they pursue a career in business or entrepreneurship. Here are some tools that can help college-bound students gain some basic knowledge and business acumen.

Helping Students Understand the Basics of Business

Business acumen is helpful in many career paths. For example, students who are interested in fields such as marketing, finance, or project management will benefit greatly from having an understanding of how businesses run. Additionally, any students who are interested in starting their own business someday will need at least basic knowledge and business acumen.

From creating a business plan to learning how to manage money, these skills can be used in many practical situations. Sites like edX and Coursera are great starting points for students who are interested in business as they offer a range of overview courses that explain business topics and terminology.

Financial Literacy Platforms

Money management skills are critical for young adults who are about to take their first steps toward independence. Whether they will simply be budgeting and saving or figuring out how to finance a business, basic financial literacy is a must.

There are lots of financial literacy platforms out there, including budgeting tools that students can start using right away. Even if they will not be working while attending college, learning financial literacy skills will pay off in a variety of ways over time. This list of tools and platforms from the federal government even includes a resource for teachers who want to run financial literacy workshops.

TED Talks, Webinars, and YouTube Videos

Students can quickly and easily access information on business topics that interest them by looking to TED talks, webinars, and even YouTube videos. These resources are completely free and allow for bite-sized learning opportunities.

TED talks in particular can be engaging and inspiring, while still providing high school students with insightful business knowledge. Some of the greatest innovators and thinkers have given TED talks on their areas of expertise.

These free and accessible resources provide lots of different perspectives and diversity within the world of business. The only downside is that anyone can create a YouTube channel or a webinar, so be sure to help students identify reliable resources. 

Free and Inexpensive Online Courses

Although many online courses require a subscription or a one-time cost, other online courses are free, especially at the intro level. Students can find courses that suit their interests and career goals and start gaining the skills and knowledge they’ll ultimately need.

For example, students who are interested in entrepreneurship might want to look into the Small Business Basics courses from the Small Business Administration. Or, students might look up specific topics of interest, like direct-to-consumer and other non-traditional business models.

Business Competitions, Clubs, and Local Events

If your school or local community offers business competitions or has a business club, encourage your students to participate. They will have more investment in their learning when it’s for the purpose of a club or competition. They will also get to practice networking, teamwork, and practical business skills.

Another great way for students to network and learn is to attend events in the community. They can make connections, learn about different business topics, and gain an understanding of how the business community runs. Networking can open doors for students and help them get mentorships and even jobs in the future.

Business and Economics Reading Lists & Podcasts

High school students can learn a lot from self-study. There are many excellent books and podcasts about business, economics, leadership, entrepreneurship, and more. Curate a list for your students of the most helpful and interesting resources that cover a range of topics and time periods. Both “classic” and modern business books can help students gain business acumen.

Provide Different Learning Options

When encouraging students to learn about business, provide different options. Some students will prefer learning from a video, while others might like listening to a podcast or reading a book.

Encourage students to follow their interests and connect with others who are interested in these topics. Help them see the value of building their business acumen and starting a network even before they start college.

We live in a competitive world. As a counselor, you can help your students get ahead by providing them with the business education tools they need to gain an edge that will serve them in college and beyond.