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  • BUS 140, Legal Environment of Business
  • BUS 147, Personal Finance
  • BS, Arizona State University
  • MBA, University of Minnesota
  • JD, University of Minnesota
  • OFFICE: Room 4810, Oceanside Campus
  • TEL: 760.757.2121 x6388
  • EMAIL:
Tom Severance
Excited Students

(note:one change to above video: there is now a hybrid BUS 147 class taught at OCS Monday evenings) (2 hours in-class and 1 hour online)

Tom Severance is Chair of the MiraCosta Business Department, which includes Accounting, Business Administration, and Real Estate. He is also the lead instructor for all the Business Administration courses. Tom regularly teaches  Legal Environment of Business (BUS 140) and Personal Finance (BUS 147) online. He strives to make his classes practical, informative, and enjoyable for his students.

Tom received his B.S. in Business Administration from Arizona State University, and his joint J.D. (Law) and M.B.A. (Accounting) from the University of Minnesota. He is a California-licensed Attorney and CPA.

Stop by and visit him in his Oceanside campus office 4810 in the 4800 Business Building.



BUS 140 Legal Environmentt of Business
BUS 147 Personal Finance


BUS 140:1219/2695 Fall 2015 (online)
BUS 147:1217/2432 Fall 2015 (online)
BUS 147:1211 Fall 2015 (hybrid)
BUS 140/147 FAQs (syllabus supplement)

BUS 140:1158/1159 Spring 2015 (online)
BUS 147:1161/1162 Spring 2015 (online)


BUS 140/147 Tom Severance
Business as a Major

Cengage CourseMate Demo by Virgette Mazzola Pt1 Pt2 Pt3 Pt4
Sole Proprietorships vs. LLCs etc Video
Wyndham Vacation Resort Presentation
Pt1 Pt2 Pt3 Pt4 Pt5 Pt6
SBDC Angel Investor Workshop Pt1 Pt2 Pt3 Pt4 PPt PDF
Mooradian Wine Label Contest Pt1 Pt2 Pt3 Pt4 Final Results (pdf)

BUS 140 Chapters for first two weeks of semester (PDFs):


BUS 147 Personal Finance Chapters for first two weeks of semester (PDFs):

PFIN-3: CH01 CH02

IMPORTANT NOTE on CLOSED Classes: All the online classes and many of the on-campus classes close quickly. You should register ASAP if you are interested in any class. If you change your mind, please drop the class immediately so others can enroll. If the class is closed, consider the WAIT LIST procedures; be aware of the rules and the limitations. Otherwise, consider these options: 1) register for another section if available; 2) register for another class; 3) consider registering in a future semester; 4) show up for the first day of an on-campus class and discuss with the instructor; or 5) forget about it and move on. The instructor will not intervene with the wait list procedure. Check out the WAIT LIST TUTORIAL

Please be aware that, once a class reaches maximum enrollment and “closes,” on or after the first day of the semester, even if “available” spaces appear on SURF due to drops, it is within the instructor's complete discretion on whether to add more students at that time. Drops after the first day are normal attrition and are factored in when setting the maximum enrollment. The class has started and important assignments and subject matter have already been covered. Please do not email the instructor. Thank you for your understanding.

Online Class Evaluations:(comments to each of the survey questions are summarized at the end of each survey)

Fall 2012: BUS140:1266 (36 students) Pt1 Pt2; BUS140:1275 (33 students) Pt1 Pt2
Fall 2012: BUS147:1269 (29 students) Pt1 Pt2; BUS147:1277 (33 students) Pt1 Pt2

Student Comments/Suggestions, Learning Experiences and Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes from final weeks' discussion boards:

Spring 2013: BUS140:1309: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Spring 2013: BUS140:1310: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Spring 2013: BUS147:1312: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Spring 2013: BUS147:1313: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes

Fall 2013: BUS140:1237: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Fall 2013: BUS140:1245: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Fall 2013: BUS147:1240: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes
Fall 2013: BUS147:1247: Comments/Suggestions; Learning Experiences& Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes

Spring 2014: Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes and Instructors
Fall 2014: Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes and Instructors
Spring 2015: Student Suggested Non-ACCT/BUS Classes and Instructors

Teaching Philosophy/Style and Class Management/Activities

Since I am currently teaching only two different online classes, BUS 140 and BUS 147, my statement is simplified. As a long-time Attorney and CPA with substantial experience in business, law, tax and education, I strive to make both classes practical, informative, and enjoyable for students. The lessons learned and issues discussed in these two classes will be helpful to all students in both their business and personal lives for the remainder of their lives. I am always available for students to stop by or call or email with personal or business questions related to the topics. Take advantage of this generous offer. 

If students choose to take an online class, I expect them to have the technical knowledge and ready access to an efficient computer and to effectively deal with the Internet, Email, Blackboard and basic computer skills. Students are expected to promptly read and fully understand the syllabus and all information sent by email or posted on the Blackboard site. They must have good time management skills and be able to spend approximately NINE (9) hours per week on the class. If they have work, family or other class obligations that will not allow for this, they should not take the class. I am available as needed but I am not a hand-holder. Students are expected to be proactive and take full responsibility for their learning and their grade. They should strive to complete and learn from all activities as well as from the instructor and the other students. 

Although my classes are entirely online, they are not self-paced. Students complete the assignments for each week on their own time schedule within that week Students  read the chapter, take a M/C and/or T/F quiz, respond to discussion questions, and complete and submit homework problems online each week. There are Midterm and Final objective M/C exams and there are Midterm and Final Papers and Peer Reviews (analysis of other students’ papers) on relevant class topics. There may be optional on-site or online “meetings” scheduled if time permits. Each student will find some instructional methods more beneficial and/or enjoyable than other methods, but must realize that such conclusions differ greatly from student to student. All are expected to do their best to learn from each teaching method and complete all required assignments timely.


MCC 2013-14 Catalog (htm)
Accounting (ACCT) Courses (pdf)
Business Administration (BUS) Courses (pdf)
Real Estate (REAL) Courses (pdf)
Social Media for Business Certif (proposed) (pdf)

Business Internships for Credit!
There are many great internship opportunities available through the Career Center. A full listing of over 400 available internships can be found in the CareerPoint Database (

CSU San Marcos CoBA:
Accounting Society:
Alpha Kappa Psi:
Senior Experience:
In the Executive’s Chair:
In the Trenches with Entrepreneurs:

Holstee Manifesto



Syllabus Template (.docx)
Syllabus Template (pdf)
Student Learning Outcomes (pdf)
Associate Faculty Expectations (pdf)
Associate Faculty Flex Info (htm)
Minimum Quals Handbook (htm)
Air Server in TEC Rooms Setup (pdf)
MCC Teaching Well Online Checklist (pdf)
Business Videos (CEO interviews, Business Law, Small Business Mgmt)
Guest Speaker Listing (pdf)
Business Dept Faculty Contact Info (pdf)
Faculty Teaching Philosopy/Style and Class Mgmt (pdf)
Blackboard Tutorials (MCC link)

Palomar Online Best Practices Checklist (pdf)
Top Ten Teaching Tips (pdf)
5 Top Teaching Mistakes from Joe Hoyle (pdf)
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices (24 lectures in DVD)
25 TED Talks Perfect for Classrooms (htm)
Sample Lesson Plans for Day Class (pdf)
Sample Lesson Plans for Night Class (pdf)
Academic Dishonesty Guide (pdf)
PowerPoint Presentations Made Easy (pdf)
Coursera Free Classes (htm)
Stock Photography (links to free sites)
Survey Monkey (free survey tool)
Poll Everywhere (poll by cell phone)
CourseSmart (ebooks for major publishers)
Khan Academy (short videos on finance, accounting and more)
125 Technology Quick Tips (htm)

Basic Business and Management / Business Law / Communication
Economics and Personal Finance / Entrepreneurship
International Business / Marketing

10 Tips for Success

Of course, you could invent the next Google. Until then, you have a job. Here are some simple ideas for making the most of it.

By Dawn Klingensmith, CTW Features

We've all heard the maxim "Never say never." But is the reverse ever true?
Are there situations at work in which we should "Always say always?" Does career success depend on playing invariably by certain rules, self-imposed or otherwise?
While extenuating circumstances may occasionally get us off the hook, there are rules, habits and courtesies we should always abide by, according to workplace experts and veterans.
1. Be a person of your word. That means honoring your commitments and doing your part to keep projects on track.
"Trust is the foundation of relationships, and building relationships is how you get ahead," says Tampa, Fla.-based leadership-development speaker and blogger Eric Papp.
2. Look for ways to add value to the organization. Try to improve existing processes, offer better service or reduce costs.
3. Keep track of your accomplishments. "It will make updating your résumé and preparing for performance reviews and job interviews much easier since people often forget the specifics unless they've recorded them," says Charlotte Weeks, CEO, Weeks Career Services, Chicago.
4. Ask for help when you need it "not because you're weak but because you want to stay strong," Papp says. Seeking help is a timesaver, he adds, not a sign of incompetence.
5. Bring some workable remedies to the table when you present your boss with problems.
"Bosses don't like problems," says Eric Kramer, president, Innovative Career Services, Norristown, Pa. But what they dislike even more is to be left in the dark about them or when it's clear you haven't thought through possible solutions.
6. Type the recipient's email address last when writing an email, which prevents you from sending an incomplete or unchecked email prematurely.
7. Answer email and voicemails promptly. The rule of thumb is within 24 hours or one business day. If a message requires significant action or an in-depth response, at least assure the sender you've received it and will attend to it by a specified time.
8. Do what you can to contribute to the success of the team even if it's not in your job description.
Bonus survival tip: "Always focus on doing the things that will make your boss look good," Kramer says.
9. Maintain and grow your network "even if you're happily employed," Weeks says. "You'll be glad you did if anything changes." And don't neglect to network internally: "These relationships could work in your favor if you're seeking a promotion or hoping to switch departments."
10. Give a minimum of two weeks' notice when resigning, says Weeks: "Even though you're leaving, keep your reputation intact by quitting gracefully."

How I Changed My Life, In Four Lines
via zenhabits by Leo on 10/14/11
Post written by Leo Babauta.

Changing your life can seem an incredibly tough and complicated thing, especially if you’ve failed a great number of times (like I did), found it too hard, and resigned yourself to not changing. But I found a way to change.
And I’m not any better than anyone else, not more disciplined, not more motivated. I just learned a few simple principles that changed my life. I’ve written about them many times, but realized they’re spread out all over the site. Here is how I changed my life, in a nutshell. The four lines you’re looking for are at the bottom.

How I Started Running
In 2005 I was sedentary, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make exercise a regular habit. At the end of 2006, not only was I running very regularly, I finished my first marathon. These days I can run a half marathon race at the drop of a hat, have run several marathons.
How did I do it? I started with just 10 minutes of running a day. I focused not on how hard it was, but how much I enjoyed the movement and the outdoors. I increased slowly, until I could run 15 minutes, then 20, and later a couple hours. I was grateful for every run I was able to take.
I got healthier, fitter, slimmer, happier.

How I Started Eating Healthier
In 2005 I was overweight, and addicted to junk food. I ate fast food, chips and cookies, fried meats, anything fatty or sweet or salty … and I had no idea how to change. Today, I am 70 lbs. lighter, I eat almost all whole, real foods (almost nothing processed), I eat a sweet treat now and then but am happier eating healthy food.
How did I change? I started with small changes like drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies, cooking at home more and preparing my lunches for work. One at a time. I gradually improved my diet, eventually cleared my fridge and pantry of junk, and stopped going to fast food places. I found healthy foods I really loved. I was grateful for every delicious healthy meal I ate.
I felt better about myself, trimmed down, and feel great every single day.

How I Got Out of Debt
In 2005, I was way over my head in debt — it was so bad, I had creditors calling me, and I would ignore my phone calls. I struggled to make it paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes didn’t even make it — I had to borrow money from friends and family. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. At the end of 2007, I celebrated with my wife Eva when we paid off our last debt and were free!
How did I do it? I started one little change at a time: I started cutting back on expenses a little, saving a little at a time, paying off the little debts and then the bigger debts, found some breathing room, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I gradually changed my financial habits and got into better shape. I was grateful for every debt paid off, every dollar saved, every inch of breathing room.
I’m debt free and will never go back. It’s the most liberating thing ever.

And On and On
I was planning on writing the same capsules for how I decluttered and simplified my possessions, how I started focusing and accomplishing more, how I turned my passion into a living, and so on … but the truth is, the story starts to repeat itself.
I used the same principles, over and over. More on that in the nutshell below.

And Then I Gave Up Goals
About two years ago, I started to give up goals. Just as an experiment.
It turns out, I could still accomplish the same kinds of things, but I just didn’t plan it out. Instead, I just followed the same principles (more on those below). They still work, even without goals.
People say I can give up goals because I’ve already accomplished a lot … but the truth is, I can give up goals because I have learned a few things that work, and realized they work with or without goals. And if you follow these things, you can change your life, with or without goals.

The Nutshell Principles
So what are the principles that changed my life, repeatedly?
If you read the brief stories above, you already know:
1. Start very small.
2. Do only one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be grateful for every step you take.

In programming, this is called an algorithm. It’s a series of steps that you can apply to make any change, no matter what your situation. It works. This is the Zen Habits method, the Change Your Life App, in four lines. I hope it helps.



Enchantment - Increase Likability