A letter to my first-year students

Dear Incoming Freshman,

I am your First Year Seminar teacher and academic adviser at Coe. I am honored to have you in my class and want to take this opportunity to welcome you and give you a brief introduction to the class.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on picking Business Wars as one of your First Year Seminar choices. By choosing my class, you have already distinguished yourself from your peer. You have shown that you are one of the smart few who see business and professional training as a necessary part of your college life and career afterwards.

The debate on whether the college education should be liberal or professional has long been over. We need both. We at Coe are exemplary to this fantastic combination. But by professional, I don’t mean that college students should learn vocational skills like carpentry or law practicing. Instead, a professional education provides students with skills that not only transcend narrowly defined disciplines, but are firmly based on science and humanity. Studying business, economics and accounting in a liberal arts college gives you exactly that education. And my Business Wars class will give you a taste of what you can expect to receive at Coe. You will get exposed to Classical Greece by reading the Peloponnesian War by Donald Kagan. Then, we will bring the lessons in the Peloponnesian War to the modern business warfare. I am a strong believer in President Coolidge’s timeless words: “The chief business of the American people is business.” Knowing the business world through the lens of Classical Greece lays the foundation for any future career you might have in this great society.

The first semester at Coe is more than the First Year Seminar. You will probably meet the most important friend or partner in your life in the next few months. In addition, you will face academic challenges that you did not encounter in high school. Because of these challenges, I am hereby giving you the first college-level assignment. For the rest of your summer, you should read a book called A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science by Barbara Oakley. We will spend a lecture or two on discussing this book. It doesn’t matter whether you study science or business. It will simply change how you learn and how you see learning. It is indeed about time for you to bring your study game to the next level. 

Please take this letter as my greetings to you. We are about to start a wonderful journey together. I am looking forward to meeting you soon.


Jay Chen

Elnora H. & William B. Quarton Associate Professor of Business Administration and Economics