When James Barlia was a high school senior, he had only a few thoughts about what he wanted in a college. Coming from Bullis, a small private school, he knew he didn’t want a large university. He wanted a school in the small-to-medium size range, but one large enough to have a lot of school spirit. He was also drawn to the south, both because of the culture and, he admits, because of the weather. What topped his list of criteria, though, was a business program, because he knew even then that he wanted to study business. James has found everything he wanted at Tulane University. Now only two months from graduating, he was glad to take a few minutes to share his perspective on his four years of college.
James admits to there being a bit of a transition at first – not to being away from home or to liking the school but to the reality of being solely responsible for managing his schedule and affairs. His first semester of large intro classes was a huge change from the small, intimate atmosphere at Bullis, and he found it hard to stay engaged. Both the nature and the “differentness” of the large classes were difficult for him. His schedule also created challenges. All of his classes were on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but they were spread out through the day. He sometimes had two hours between classes, and he found it a challenge at first to shake the “I’m out of school” feeling after such a long break and to refocus his attention back to his academics. There was no natural rhythm in those early days, but over time, James acclimated to his new norm. He realizes now that each semester (with its own line-up of classes) had its own rhythm and required its own routine. Once he embraced that expectation and realized he had the skills to make it work, he relaxed and it was no longer an issue.
James kicked his study into high gear when he was able to take business classes. The smaller class size helped, but what helped even more was his higher level of engagement with the material. He loves the hands-on learning aspect of his business classes and applauds Tulane’s use of adjunct professors, a practice that brings into the classroom people who have had successful businesses and can speak from experience.
James is majoring in business management with a concentration in entrepreneurship. He has taken courses that covered those areas plus a couple in the area of venture capital, and the work has begun paying off already: he has secured a full-time job with a venture capital firm in Owings Mill, Maryland and will begin working there this July. He says he didn’t use Tulane’s placement service to secure that position but does credit Tulane instruction for his success in landing the position. He had mentoring help with his resume and interview preparation, and he followed the advice he was given most often – to network. That networking was what really made a difference, because it was through one of his contacts that he heard about the position he ultimately landed.
As a senior nearing graduation, James has a four-year story to tell. He says that, when he arrived, he considered himself to be fairly independent. Living away from home wasn’t as much of an issue for him as it is for some. His time at Tulane, however, has helped him recognize his strengths and weaknesses and learn how to take care of himself. It was at Tulane that he experienced his most meaningful leadership position, when he served last year as president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Well aware of the negative press regarding fraternities, James took his responsibilities very seriously. He met with parents and understood that they were looking for him to be a person of integrity, a stand-up guy who would protect their children and do the right thing when it counted. He knew he had to live up to that trust, and it was a responsibility he took very seriously.
James believes that coming to Tulane was the best decision he could have made. He admits to having a few jitters during his first weeks but only because of how different college was from his high school experience. Now he can’t say enough about how much he loves the school and its people, including both faculty and staff. He loves too that Tulane has a community service requirement. It wasn’t one of the reasons he chose Tulane, but now he sees how it connects the students to the community, and he thinks that’s a great thing. He is particularly grateful, however, to the business school and feels that it’s because of the resources it offers that he is in the position of leaving with a full-time job already secured.
Well, James, it’s hard to ask more than that. Well done and congratulations!