Every time Ball State University freshman Morgan Jones goes to a SOAR class, he’s one step closer to starting his post-college career in marketing.

The student from Warsaw, Indiana is one of 488 freshmen in the Miller College of Business (MCOB) participating in SOAR (Success, Opportunity, Acumen, and Readiness)—a required program for business majors that provides learning opportunities about career exploration and professional development.

About 82% of the class are first-term freshman with 60% being male and 40% female. Also, 43 percent of the class are first-generation college students.

“I like the program because it helps students get connected with campus throughout the first year,” Jones said. “Right now, we have a focus on joining clubs and getting involved within the Miller College of Business. But next year, we start focusing on our careers, which gives us an edge in the job market in a few years.”

Jones and his classmates are in SOAR’s first year of existence, which involves taking a one-semester course each of their first three years of study.

SOAR is meant to be a transformational program for students, said Stephen Ferris, the Bryan Dean of the College of Business who facilitated the initiative in an effort to boost student success and alumni engagement.

“Students in the SOAR Program are offered valuable, life-changing immersive experiences and student activities to partake in during their college career,” he said. “SOAR is designed to provide our Miller College of Business students with valuable skills that will allow them to become a well-rounded professional ready for the next step in life.”

Each year, students participate in courses that provide meaningful opportunities by focusing on career exploration and professional development. Students connect with industry professionals, career coaches, academic advisors, community leaders, and alumni mentors, according to Ashley Calderon, MCOB’s director of student retention and success.

“Those alumni are key to the program,” Calderon said. “They work closely with us to develop curriculum and they’re instrumental in making sure we are on the right track to develop the next generation that industry wants.”

The next time the SOAR class meets in the Fall of 2021, it will focus on searching for employment and career development. And, students will partner with a mentor who will help steer them through the process.

Calderon points out that in year three, students will focus on leadership and gaining skills to transition to the workforce. Throughout the SOAR program, students will participate in high-impact activities to prepare them for their career journey.

“Each year will build on the previous year,” she said. “By the time they are seniors, they will be secure in their career professional identities. At that point, they will be the ideal candidate to step into the workforce and contribute right away.”

Even though Jones is in his first year of college, SOAR has him on clear path with an eye toward joining the workforce after graduation. It is one example of a comprehensive approach that elevates both Ball State and MCOB for current and future students alike.

“This course has given me more knowledge about the career I am interested in and careers I did not think about going into,” he said.

Learn more about SOAR.