The Charge: Develop new Half-Block programming that will enhance the existing for-credit programs, yet be focused on helping students explore interests, develop new skills, and enhance existing skills.
What’s Happening: The Personal Financial Planning course offered during the 2016 Dynamic Half-Block was packed. There was no enrollment limit, and it was a good thing: 175 students, along with 25 staff members, participated in the course, many attending multiple classes in the eight-session program that ran Jan. 4-14.
Led by Jim Parco, associate professor, along with Christina Rader, assistant professor, and Jean M. Cooley, visiting faculty, all from the Department of Economics and Business, the course covered the development and implementation of a personal financial and investment program.
Tess Powers, director of faculty research support, took the course this year. “I realized during Jim’s class that I’ve been trying to make good financial decisions with just pieces of the puzzle. Jim’s class gave me a much more comprehensive understanding of these topics,” says Powers. “Jim didn’t give us all the answers, but we were each empowered to look for the answers and come to a decision that makes sense for our individual situation. I am so grateful that I was able to attend this class, but in the words of a colleague, ‘I wish I had learned this a long time ago.’”
Topics included analysis of budgeting and tax planning, managing liquidity, financing large purchases, protecting assets and income, analyzing investment information, examining alternative investment types, and investing money for retirement.
Brittany Almeida Barrios ’14, alumni relations coordinator, took the personal financial planning course her senior year, and again in 2016 as a staff member.
“Jim Parco is a phenomenal and engaging professor who teaches life skills and financial intelligence, which are skills that are so essential to life and adulthood, but that people aren't typically taught. As part of the Excel@CC program, I attended the class on taxes and learned even more than I did the first time taking the class (which is saying a lot),” says Barrios.
It wasn’t just the personal financial planning course that enticed students to return to campus before the start of Block 5. Four-hundred seventy-four students enrolled in 24 for-credit courses, a 15 percent increase in participation from the 2015 Half-Block enrollment. Course offerings spanned the academic departments, including History and Future of the Book, Topical issues in Neuroscience, and a theatre course titled Love and Installation. Participation is up by 21 percent over 2015 in the not-for-credit offerings, with 220 students enrolled in 17 different classes. Six alumni served as presenters and panelists. Students had the opportunity to build their resumes and complement their transcripts through informational sessions like Career Choices in the Health Professions, Diplomacy 101, and Portfolio Development to Launch Real-Life Non-Fiction Writing Careers. The 2016 Half-Block also included a Half-Block Abroad in Quebec with the course Four Centuries of Différence, led by History Professor Tip Ragan and Philosophy Associate Professor Dennis McEnnerney.