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Q & A for Bank of America's 'Women's Entrepreneurship' students

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Question
I have some questions....
Answer
General Questions Related to Online Learning
 
Q: Is eCornell connected to Cornell?
A: eCornell is Cornell University’s online education department, and both eCornell and Cornell University reside in Ithaca, NY.  Our courses are authored by Cornell faculty members, and certificates are electronically issued.
 
Q: How many people will go through the program?
A: The plan is to have ~20,000 women complete the certificate within four years.
 
Q: Who teaches the courses?
A: The six courses that make up the Certificate program are authored by Cornell University faculty, designed in collaboration with eCornell’s instructional designers. Live instruction/interaction is provided by industry experts.
 
Q: How does the program work?
A: The Certificate consists of six 2-week courses, taught 100% online through eCornell’s online learning management system. Courses contain learning modules that feature interactive discussions, video/text lectures, quizzes, case studies, course projects, and a variety of online tools to ensure satisfactory understanding of subject matter.
 
Q: What is expected of me and will I be graded?
A: Each course will take you 6-10 hours over a two-week period.  There is no formal grading; the instructors will certify that you have completed each course with satisfactory effort and participation.
 
Eligibility and Participation
 
Q: Who should take this course?
A: This certificate program targets women who are starting, running, or expanding a business and consider themselves as emerging entrepreneurial leaders. There is not a strict guideline of years of operation, but a rough guideline is 0-5 years.  (Reference the 'Eligibility' page at bofainstitute.cornell.edu.)
 
Q: I’m not an entrepreneur but I’m thinking about becoming one – is it ok for me to take this course?  Or, I’m not an entrepreneur but I would like to be more entrepreneurial in my current job – will I gain any value from this course?
A: Since the guidelines for the course includes women who are in the early stages of starting a business (from zero to 5 years), the content in this certificate program is highly applicable for women who want to understand more about the challenges of entrepreneurship in addition to specific gender related hurdles that women may experience more often than men.  If you are interested in understanding more about entrepreneurship and whether it is the best professional path for you, we would encourage you to complete this certificate program. (Reference the 'Eligibility' page at bofainstitute.cornell.edu.)

Q: I’m not an entrepreneur but I work in an area that interfaces with and provides services to female entrepreneurs – is this course appropriate for me to take?  Or… Can I take this certificate program if I am a man?
A: The content of this certificate program will highlight issues that all entrepreneurs face and will additionally cover specific challenges that may impact women more than men in the process of building a company.  While the course projects will be more relevant to entrepreneurs, there is much to be gained by participating in the online discussion forums in each course to develop a better understanding of specific issues that women entrepreneurs may be facing.  The goal of the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell is to educate and support women so they can reach higher levels of success. If this coursework helps you better understand how you can personally provide that type of help to women entrepreneurs, please take the course – with the understanding that the curriculum is targeted to entrepreneurs.
 
Q: Do I have to provide proof of how long my company has been in business?  Or the number of employees or revenues? Why are you asking for that information when I enroll?
A: We will not be vetting your responses to these questions and would just ask for honesty when completing the enrollment page.  Your answers will not impact your eligibility to participate and will only be used in an aggregated way (for example – we may look at summary statistics about course participation broken down by years of experience or size of company, etc.) We are collecting this information because this is an initiative based out of Cornell University and we are hoping to leverage our understanding of the types of participants in the program for research in the areas of women’s entrepreneurship and leadership.
 
Q: Can I share the enrollment information about this program with other people in my network or is this program invite-only?
A: We encourage you to share information about this program with other individuals and groups that engage with women entrepreneurs.  If you need assistance in reaching out to specific groups, please contact the Institute’s Program Director, Kirsten Barker at Kirsten.barker@cornell.edu.
Bank of America’s Role in the Certificate Program
 
Q: What’s the catch?  Why is this program free? Why is Bank of America doing this?
A: Women play a vital role in driving economic growth within their communities and in the global economy. And yet, no matter where in the world they live, women often face challenges in accessing necessary capital and other resources. That’s why Bank of America invests in partnerships that connect women entrepreneurs to the mentoring, training and capital they need to help them achieve success. This work aligns with their longstanding support of women in their own company. The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell will provide training and educational resources to women at all stages of entrepreneurship.  This signature collaboration with Cornell University demonstrates how the Bank of America continues to deploy capital and invest in partnerships that advance women entrepreneurs and build thriving economies.
 
Q: Will my information be passed along to Bank of America or sold to marketers?
A: The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell was established by a generous gift that Bank of America made to Cornell University.  Because Cornell University is responsible for the development and administration of the certificate program, individual user information is limited to Cornell and will not be made available to Bank of America.  Cornell may provide summary statistics to Bank of America so they can better understand the demographics of students enrolled in the courses - but all of that data will be aggregated – so no individual information will be shared.
 
Course Experience and Outcomes
 
Q: Will I have a chance to interact with the faculty who authored the courses in the certificate program?
A: The award-winning Cornell faculty who have authored this course content have traditional academic teaching and research responsibilities and will not be engaging one on one with students. We will invite them to participate in occasional webinar sessions related to the content of the coursework – so students may have the opportunity to hear directly from the faculty during the period of time in which they participate in the certificate program.  eCornell courses are unique in the world of open online coursework in that they are all Instructor-led. While the instructors have not authored the course material, they have industry experts in the topics being covered. Students will have the full attention of these eCornell instructors and can expect to interact with them in the discussion forums or in-course messaging. The eCornell Helpdesk will also be available for any technical questions that students may wish to ask via email or chat.
 
Q: Will I have a chance to interact with other students/entrepreneurs during the course?  After the course?
A: Absolutely!  During each course in the certificate program, students will be expected to participate in discussion forums where interaction with other students in the class is encouraged. We are also looking for additional ways in which students can continue to interact after the completion of the certificate.
 
Q: Will taking this course provide me access to funding for my company?
A: The online courses feature engaging instruction on how to carry out effective customer discovery, lay the right legal building blocks, seek appropriate financing, develop entrepreneurial leadership skills, create a product development strategy, and hone communication and pitching abilities.  While the coursework won’t provide you direct access to funding, it will help students develop skills to facilitate that process.
 
Q: Will I have a better chance of getting considered for a loan by completing this certificate?
A: Completing the Certificate in Women’s Entrepreneurship is certainly a valuable achievement and one that should be mentioned when applying for a loan.  While it doesn’t guarantee funding from any lending source is it an achievement that can be included along with the other documentation required for a loan application.
 
Q:  What if I register, but suddenly need to drop out for professional or personal reasons?
A: We understand, especially in the world of startups, that conflicts may arise.  Please read our drop/transfer policy.
 
Q: Do the students have to go through the course in the same cohort?
A: It is recommended for students to take the course in sequential order; however one can choose the order in which they want to take the courses as it fits their schedule. This program does enable greater flexibility to students in taking the courses straight through or incorporating breaks between courses as needed.



 

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