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Archive | December, 2012

College Years Provide Amazingly Awesome Resume

College Years Provide Amazingly Awesome Resume

If you’re like most of us – you’re not overburdened with worldly wealth during your time at college. Not by a long shot – and that probably means you need to work to supplement your savings and loans.

However, getting a decent job when you’re a student isn’t always easy. Convincing an employer that you’re ready to take on the kind of responsibility and tasks that use your skills and pay you a living wage is hard! And often, they want you to have already graduated and worked for two or three years in the field before they even consider your application.

You can get around this, however, by looking at some of the “soft skills” you’ve acquired while a student.

While you’ve been studying have you ever done any of the following:

  • Worked in a team?
  • Analyzed data?
  • Prepared documents on a topic?
  • Edited your work?
  • Solved problems?
  • Researched a topic?
  • Given a presentation?

If you remember nothing else form this article, I want you to remember this one thing:

Doing something in the controlled environment of college still means you did it.

That’s right. That time when you handed in three papers in over two days? If you were able to do that it means that you managed your time well, set priorities, worked efficiently and respected deadlines.

There is no job where that is not useful.

Are you starting to see where I’m coming from?

When you prepare a resume, your experience can and should include all of your experience – not just the things you were paid for. The things you actually did in school count.

So instead of having a “Work Experience” section where you simple list how well you wipe down tables and count out cash, you can have a “Relevant Experience” section where you can also include how well you prioritize and communicate and research and problem-solve.

I’m not telling you to be dishonest here – not by a long shot. You should include your relevant traditional work experience as well. I’m just asking you to give the useful, relevant skills you developed in and out of class as much importance as the ones you acquired in the jobs you’ve held.

This alone will set you miles ahead of the competition when it comes time to apply for work, and will broaden your options to boot.

The people who make hiring decisions are looking for the solution to a problem. That problem varies from place to place, but it is always present. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t be hiring at all.

You can use your skills and experience to solve that problem, but an employer won’t know you can do it unless you tell them.

Today’s guest article comes from Megan Dougherty. She finds it hugely frustrating that doing the “right thing” by following your passion, going to college or trying to start something for yourself so often leads to years of financial desperation. It shouldn’t. You should be able to live the life you want, now. It’s not easy, but it is possible. Find out more over on her site, Paying for Life.

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Getting Approved and Securing Education Loans

Getting Approved and Securing Education Loans

With the cost of college education higher than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for more and more students to take out loans to pay for it.

Unfortunately, it’s not always quite so easy as simply going up to lenders, telling them you need money, and walking off with a check. You need to meet their eligibility requirements in order to be approved, and these can vary greatly depending on the type of loan you’re trying to get and the lender you’re working with.

In general, there are two types of higher education loans – government loans and private loans. If you can get them, government loans are almost always the preferable option because the rates tend to be lower, and for many of them your interest will even be covered while you are still attending school. One of the best of these types of loans is the subsidized Stafford loan, which carries with it an ultra-low 3.4% interest rate.

But how can you get approved for these amazing loans? It all starts with filling out the FAFSA form, which will determine which federal grants and loans you qualify for. But what does that really mean?

You have to show your need.

Government loans like the subsidized Stafford loan are generally reserved for those students who have the greatest need (meaning they don’t have even close to the amount of money to pay for their education) and have already exhausted all of the grants available to them. One thing that’s interesting about “need” is that it isn’t just based on the family’s income, but also the cost of the university the student will be attending. What that means is that if you decide to go to a school that costs more and you don’t have much money, you’ll actually be more likely to get better loans than someone who chooses to go to a less expensive state school.

And you’d better not miss deadlines.

Federal programs like the Perkins loan have different deadlines at every school, so you really need to do a good job of staying up-to-date with how things work at your university. Otherwise, you might miss the deadline, and if that’s the case you’re going to be out of luck for that year and will likely have to turn to a private lender to pay for your education – that’s where things get more complicated.

While private lenders have standards for student loans that are generally more relaxed than those for, say, people wanting to take out a mortgage on a home, there is one notable exception… see next bullet.

You’ll need a co-signer.

Unless you have a trust fund (in which case, why are you getting a loan?), most lenders require student borrowers to have a co-signer for their loans. Typically, this is a parent or guardian who agrees to pay back the amount if their son or daughter is for some reason unable to do so. There are “escape clauses” for parents to get out of this requirement, but often they are harder to meet than they initially seem.

Beyond this, most lenders care very little about college-bound kids’ credit history, missed payments, past loan defaults, or current earnings for one very simple reason – they’re believed to have great upside since they are essentially training for their future careers where they will ostensibly be earning a lot more money. Basically, lenders for the most part take the attitude that even college students with past financial difficulties haven’t really begun their adult lives. And, of course, if things don’t quite go according to plan, they’ve always got mom and dad on the hook for the money.

Author Bio

Today’s guest article is provided by Aileen Pablo. Aileen is part of the team behind Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading providers of Distance Education. When not working, Aileen blogs about education and career. She is often invited as a speaker in Personality Development Seminars in the Philippines. You can find her on Google+

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Five Holiday Gift Giving Ideas on a College Budget

Five Holiday Gift Giving Ideas on a College Budget

Living on a student budget is a challenge. The cost of tuition, books, and room and board can take their toll and leave students with meager funds for additional spending. With the holidays approaching, you may be wondering how to buy gifts for friends, family, and loved ones without spending a fortune. With a little planning and creativity, though, you can come up with great gifts to share without breaking the bank. Here are a few ideas to help you get over your holiday budget blues:

  • Vintage Shop

Now more than ever, people are realizing the true value in vintage shopping. Not only has it become a trendy way to shop, but it can help you find unique gift items on a budget. Vintage stores are filled with hidden gems, and it just takes a bit of time and patience to find them. These items represent moments of the past, making them charming presents for the holidays. Your loved one will know you put time into searching for the perfect gift.

  • Go Homemade

Making gifts at home may take time, but these can make some of the most heartfelt presents. Visit your local craft store and get creative. Personalizing a glass or picture frame will make your friends and family members feel special. You can even wrap your gifts in a customized way. Desserts are another great homemade gift option. Baked goods are relatively inexpensive to buy, and you can be especially creative when it comes to decorating and packaging them.

  • Think Practical

While practical gifts may not seem very exciting, they are greatly appreciated. You will be surprised at how many useful gifts you can find for just a few dollars. Think about creating a care package with small essential items for the winter, such as lotion, gloves, and warm socks. The receiver of the gift will be happy to get something they can actually use.

  • Deal Hunt

If you have saved up enough money to buy a gift that is more expensive, be sure to do your research to find the best deals. There are ways to save money on just about anything. For electronics, many stores sell refurbished items which have been completely restored and even come with a warranty. For clothing, only shop when you know a store is having a sale. Always look for coupons and daily deals online, and use comparison shopping sites to find the lowest prices.

  • Secret Santa

This gift giving game will always be a holiday favorite, and it is perfect for a student budget. Not only does it solve the issue buying presents for a group, but it makes a great party game and is fun to do with friends. Play it at a holiday party, or give your gifts to your friends right before you go home for the holiday break.

Expensive gifts are not necessary in order to let your friends and family know how much you care. You can partake in the holiday spirit by giving gifts that are greatly appreciated, without much cost to you. When it comes to the holidays, it truly is the thought that counts.

Today’s guest article comes from Lindsay T.  She recently graduated from Northwestern University, just outside of Chicago. She currently writes for Skyo, an online site where students can buy or rent textbooks at a discount. 

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6 Helpful Approaches To Finding Outside Scholarships

6 Helpful Approaches To Finding Outside Scholarships

Finding the best scholarships can be a daunting task for any student. However, don’t lose heart just yet; there are many resources available to help you locate the scholarship that best fits your requirements.  Below are some tried and tested tips to help get you on the right track to discovering the best scholarship for you.

Research Using a Directory and Online Resources

Your school and public library should have a scholarship directory available to use for free. However, there are some excellent directories available from bookstores, which are updated every year. Of course, the internet is also an invaluable tool for searching out the best scholarships. Use one of the free services such as CheapScholar’s Scholarship Search Database to narrow down your search according to your subject interests and preferred colleges.

Use Your Interests as Direction

You already possess what you need to point you in the right direction towards the best scholarships: your interests! If you are engaged in activities with organizations, they may have specially designed scholarships that could help you fund your college education. Organizations that often have scholarships include media companies, musical groups, academic clubs, athletic teams and community services. Check the websites of parent organizations that your club or organization is affiliated with as these too often provide scholarships.

Discuss Your Needs with a Counselor

You need professional advice when looking for a scholarship so approach your school’s guidance counselor or financial aid officer. Before your meeting, carefully prepare a breakdown of your interests, background, academic record, and financial situation. This will help your counselor and financial aid officer assess your needs more quickly and will help them to steer you in the right direction. If you have a major decided upon, inquire as to whether the school has any scholarships you might be able to secure to continue your education in a particular academic field.

Contact Businesses and Community Organizations

Many community organizations raise funds for scholarships to support local students going off to college, so thoroughly check the websites of community groups in your vicinity and inquire as to whether you are eligible. It’s also a good idea to check scholarships offered by major corporations which do business related to your academic field. Taking computer science? Have a look at Microsoft’s website. Also check whether the corporations have education foundations that support education and research. These regularly provide substantial scholarships to exceptional students. After all, they are investing in potential future personnel.

Approach Colleges Directly for a Scholarship List

Last, but certainly not least, simply write to the college that most interests you and inquire as to whether they have any scholarships available that you might be eligible for. A number of colleges have very generous scholarships set up by prosperous alumni, so don’t be shy about reaching out and finding out exactly what financial support is available from the colleges you would love to continue your studies at.

Share the Research…

It can be very helpful to team up with a school friend and work in partnership researching the scholarships available. Sharing the workload and making your search more fun can help you to narrow down your options and your friend might come across a scholarship fund you might otherwise have missed.

Good luck with your scholarship search!

Author Bio

Today’s guest article comes from George Papas. He is an ex-teacher. He now spends his time helping both current students and those out of college find scholarships. He frequently writes for a number of sites including Jeffrey Epstein amongst others.

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Be Smart About Your Money – Be Smart Online!

Be Smart About Your Money – Be Smart Online!

This election season the number one concern was money. Are there enough jobs, do they pay enough to live on, will we be better off next year than this year? We are all concerned about money and how to manage it the best. We worry about whether our kids know enough. Being smart about money also means being smart online. You can have a great budget and be a good saver, but can lose the whole thing online to one scam from an identity thief.

We are all pretty smart as we go out and about on the streets. It’s when we sit down at our computer that we start to forget. We may read in the paper about a con that targeted senior citizens or someone else. Usually the thought process we all go through includes “I wouldn’t fall for that.” But would you? The number one place that con artists live is on the internet. Far too many fall for it.

People steal your money on the internet – and they don’t do it by hacking your bank account. They do it by finding information about you to steal your identity. Much of it has been given without realizing it – even on purpose!

The concepts they use are called phishing and malware. What are they and how to be safe? Phishing is a concept of sending notices that trick/scare you into providing your personal information. Usually done through email, but also through social media (Facebook and others) and texts. The emails may look very real. They suggest things like:

  • Your email is full or needs ‘renewed’. To fix the problem, you are to reply or go to a web form and provide information. This usually includes your username and password.
  • Your bank is conducting a routine verification and also needs your information.
  • Your bank found an error. You need to reply immediately

The schemes may talk about your social media account (“someone friended you!”) or even warn that someone is trying to steal your identity.

They also come in forms that play to our need for money. An offer to work from home is the one that catches the most. Someone brought one to me recently about a UK company contacting their son, who was away at college, to work for them. They needed him to order supplies for them. They would tell him what to order and where to ship it. This seems innocent enough, but I had to ask why? Why contact a college student in the Midwest to order supplies and ship them to the company? Staples can ship anywhere with a credit card. This violates one of my top (online) rules – if the offer sounds too good to be true, it is. The catch here was that they were to cash the check and then send the money to the supplier via Western Union. The check would have bounced, leaving the student out the cash.

The other one that hits this are offers of free stuff. I am particularly wary of all surveys, but any that come uninvited are especially suspicious.

A better way to approach  all of these may be from a video I found on the subject. The video was part of a competition for awareness about cyber scams. If someone approached you on the street with an offer like the one on your screen, would you give this stranger the information? The answer is probably no, so don’t do it online!

My last thought on the subject is to not make it easy to for these people. You have a lot of the information they need already out there. On Facebook and other sites people routinely put their date of birth (year included), place of birth and other personal information. These pieces of information can be used by identity thieves to recreate the first 5 digits of your social security number. These sites are a place to hook up with your friends. They either already know or don’t care how old you are or where you were born. If you think it can’t happen to you, read this story about a tech editor who lost his whole online life – including every photo of his new daughter – because of an identity thief.

Here’s a summary of things to do or remember online.  Number one: Install an anti-virus program and keep it up to date. There are plenty that are free, including Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG Free. Number two: Be smart! These programs, no matter how good, are always playing catch-up to some new scheme. Safe behavior is the best bet. My rules:

1.       If you wouldn’t give this information to a stranger on the street, don’t do in online either

2.       If it sounds too good to be – it probably is!

3.       Clean up your Facebook and other social media accounts – no birth year, no hometown, that includes high school and class years

4.       Verify! If you are concerned about a notice. Pick up the phone and call the bank or other. Use the number from your statement, card or something other than the email you just received.

5.       A little education doesn’t hurt. Learn to read links. Phishing scams will often scare people into clicking a link that looks real, but isn’t. You can tell if a link is real before you click (see the picture above). Microsoft also has a good summary with examples.

And be safe out there.

About The Author

Today’s guest article comes from Philip Laube. He is a CPA in Ohio and the Assistant Vice President for Business & Finance at Muskingum University. He presents and writes about personal finance issues for college students. He can be followed at twitter and on his web site

Sources and additional reading:

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking

Microsoft – How to recognize phishing emails, links or phone calls

Get smart on Phishing! Learn to read links!

“Stealing Your Life”, Frank Abagnale, Random House/Broadway Books (2008)

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College Student Travel on a Budget – Chicago Style

College Student Travel on a Budget – Chicago Style

Let’s face it, being a student means having absolutely no money. Thankfully, this rarely hinders aspirations. If you’re a student traveling to Chicago during the holidays to visit family or meet up with friends, the biggest decision you have to make is where to stay. Luckily, the Windy City offers plenty of accommodation options. Whether you have limitless funds, are strapped for cash or find yourself somewhere in the middle, there’s a perfect hotel for you. Read on to discover the best Chicago hotels for every budget.

Bargain hotels

If your cash flow is a bit strained, look for budget hotels or hostels that are located in less expensive, outlying areas of the city. One such place is the Chicago Getaway Hostel, in Lincoln Park. For about $70 a night, you can share an 8-person dormitory or a standard room with common bathrooms and kitchens. The hostel is located near the shore and Lincoln Park Zoo, and it’s a short walk to the Fullerton subway station, which will take you to the Loop or downtown Chicago. With a few transfers, you can also head out to other neighborhoods. If you’d rather stay in a hotel with private bathrooms, try the Days Inn on Diversey Parkway, which is also in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. At around $90 a night, the hotel is a steal and – like the Getaway Hostel – is an easy subway ride from the Magnificent Mile.

Mid-range hotels

If you need a few more perks but don’t want to break the bank, Chicago has plenty of options for you. Look for major hotel chains that can offer competitive rates even in prime locations, such as the Sheraton on Water Street. This hotel books at around $125 a night and is only a 5-minute walk from the Mile, Navy Pier and other tourist attractions. There’s also easy access to the transit system, so reaching outlying neighborhoods to visit family or friends is a breeze.

To experience Chicago’s history, you might consider a stay at the famous Palmer House Hilton on Monroe Street. This historic hotel, complete with grand staircases and a heavily gilded lobby, is located near the Loop. It’s within walking distance of the Art Institute, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the city’s museum campus and many CTA stops. If you want to truly experience Chicago and its culture, the Palmer House is ideal – but depending on the time of year, you may end up paying a few hundred dollars for a room in this vintage building.

Luxury hotels

If you’re looking to splurge in the city, or are celebrating a special occasion, consider a stay at the five-star Elysian on East Walton. This modern luxury hotel is a bit farther north and so is closer to Lake Michigan and its scenic walks. The Loop, however, is still within walking distance. If your family or friends live on the north side of town, or if you just want to stay in a more scenic area, the Elysian is a great choice.

To experience a new Chicago landmark for yourself, book a stay at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, which offers stellar views of the city and the river. Trump Tower is mere blocks from the Mile, the Art Institute and Millennium Park. For a quieter type of elegance, try the Conrad on Michigan Avenue. The hotel is right on the Mile, and its upper floors offer unparalleled city views.

Hopefully this article will give hope to those wayward students who want to go home, but have no money to do so. Chicago has hotels to suit any occasion. Whether you choose to splurge on a room at the Elysian hotel or stay at the wallet-friendly Getaway Hostel, remember that as nice as your room may be, you should get out and explore all that Chicago has to offer.

Today’s guest article is provided by Joseph Baker. He has business management experience spanning over 15 years.  He has led strategic planning and systems of implementation for nine organizations, public and private, and has worked extensively with small businesses. His education background ranges from teaching to school administration.

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When it comes to paying for college, the word FAFSA is synonymous with financial aid. Over the years, I have received a number of inquiries from families regarding the use of versus the website. I certainly have my opinions but in an effort to be fair and balanced on the subject matter, I recently asked Mary Fallon from Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. (the company behind to provide an objective comparison of the two resources. The following is an informative article that Mary put together to help provide some guidance. Feel free to comment below if you think she missed anything…

College planning is in full swing by high school seniors. After using colleges’ net price calculators to compare their financial aid and costs estimates, students can request aid by preparing the lengthy, and sometimes daunting, federal student aid application (FAFSA).  Nearly everyone – regardless of income – qualifies for student aid.

Two Options.

To encourage students to prepare a FAFSA each year, the federal government offers two options: either answer FAFSA questions on the U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) website for free, or, much like income tax preparation, get help from a service that charges a fee for FAFSA preparation and financial aid advice.

By law, FAFSA services must inform students of preparation options. No legitimate service charges for only submitting a FAFSA. Fees pay for application preparation. But avoid paying huge fees. Top FAFSA preparation services cost only about $100 and have refund policies.

Where to Get Help.

Most high school counselors don’t have the time or aid expertise to prepare students’ FAFSAs. Colleges’ financial aid professionals often advise admitted students about how to answer FAFSA questions. But extremely few colleges actually prepare students’ FAFSAs. However, most states do offer a one-day College Goal Sunday or other events where financial aid experts answer FAFSA questions without charge. Recommended by Terry Savage, a nationally-known personal finance expert, fee-based service Student Financial Aid Services, Inc. ( offers free and discounted help to thousands of low-income students each year. It provides assistance in multiple languages.

Why Get Help?

Time and possibility of mistakes are the top two reasons students choose getting help from a fee-based FAFSA service rather than to tackle it themselves. Novices spend about 78 minutes to complete a FAFSA, according to the DOE’s latest statistics.  Repeat FAFSA applicants shave only 11 minutes off that time. However, a professional student aid advisor can walk a student (or parent) through FAFSA preparation in about 30 minutes.

Mistakes Reduce Aid.

The FAFSA’s more than 130 asset, income and dependency questions can appear simple. Yet correct answers aren’t always obvious. FAFSA mistakes, such as miscalculating adjusted gross income or counting a primary residence as an asset, will reduce an aid award.  When caught by the DOE, mistakes temporarily bump a student out of the virtual, first-come, first-served line for aid. But unfortunately some mistakes that can lower aid don’t get flagged by the DOE for correction. A lot is at stake. During the 2012-13 academic year, $227 billion in federal, state and institutional aid was available to more than 17 million U.S. college students. Last year, undergraduates on average received about $11,000 in aid.

Self Help vs. Pro Help.

The FAFSA on the DOE’s website includes a ‘help’ feature to guide students. In contrast, a high quality, fee-based FAFSA preparation services offer one-on-one counseling, track and inform students about deadlines, answer difficult or confusing questions, provide estimates of the amount of federal and state aid a student can expect to receive, and  most importantly, double check for errors by reviewing every FAFSA answer twice. The best FAFSA services not only use a computer review of a FAFSA, but rely on professional student aid advisors to carefully read each answer. Avoid any service that suggests gaming the system by inaccurately answering FAFSA questions. Also, top services earn an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and are recommended by their clients.

For help, the DOE also offers an online chat in English or Spanish –available Monday through Friday mornings and on Saturdays. Some preparers provide experts who speak multiple languages, a service that many parents of first-generation college students find helpful. Fee-based services usually are open for extended hours during the week and on weekends.

Apply in January.

To be eligible for the most aid possible, apply for aid in January. Students applying in January are more likely to receive more free grant aid than those who delay beyond state or college deadlines. There’s no need to wait until income taxes are filed to prepare a FAFSA. Income can be estimated and a FAFSA submitted early to save a place in the virtual aid line. Income figures can be corrected later. An advantage of FAFSA preparers is that some have access to the FAFSA months before the January 1st start of the aid season. They prepare aid applications with income estimates early and submit them January 1st so their clients are among the first in the virtual line for aid.

Whether preparing the FAFSA at no cost on the DOE’s website, or getting help from a professional FAFSA preparation service, be sure to accurately answer questions, sign the application, and submit it in January to be eligible for the most aid possible.

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Sports and College: Make a Smart Game Plan for Life

Sports and College: Make a Smart Game Plan for Life

The average professional athlete has a career life expectancy of 10 years. During these 10 years they will earn on average between $4.6 million dollars each year depending on the sport and the position. Yet every year there is another story of a broken retired athlete who is now penniless and forced to sell everything. Here are 5 pro players who decided to put the odds in their favor by studying just as hard as they play. Today, thanks to online courses, a professional ball career is not incompatible with finishing a college business degree or even an MBA.

Shaquille O’Neal

There is more to meet the eye with Shaq, and at 7’1” there is an eye full. This professional ball player started his career as a first pick in the 1992 NBA draft and he never looked back. Retiring in 2011 Shaquille O’Neal can leave the game with the comfort of knowing that he can do much more with his life than play ball. Shaq not only finished his general studies at LSU to get his degree in 2000 he then went on to earn an MBA online from the University of Phoenix in 2005. As the investor in several rap albums Shaq is just getting started on life after basketball.

Mark Prior

Pitcher Mark Prior pitched for the Chicago Cubs from 2002-2006 and he he pitched AAA for the Boston Red Sox until August. Known for his fastball and slurve ball this talented young pitcher from San Diego hasn’t let his sports injuries end his dreams. Prior started his college career at Vanderbilt University and then transferred to USC in his second year. While there he won the Dick Howser Trophy naming him the college baseball player of the year. Shortly after this he turned pro but he continued with his education while still playing and earned his business degree from the prestigious USC Marshall School of Business in 2004.

Bryce Fisher

As a defensive lineman Bryce Fisher played during his college years for the United States Air Force Academy. During his senior year he was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain Division. Fisher’s professional career began in 2001 with the Buffalo Bills and then continued in LA with the St. Louis Rams. In 2005 he moved to the Seattle Seahawks landing a $ 10 million dollar contract. His career finished up playing with the Tennessee Titans. Not happy to rest on his laurels, from 2007 to 2009 Bryce worked for AGM. He then went on to receive his MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. He is currently working for Merrill Lynch performing due diligence for their Global Industrial Group. Throughout his entire football and financial career Fischer has also remained a Major in the U.S. Air Force.

Lennie Friedman

As an Offensive Lineman for the National Football League, Lennie played for the Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns.  After pro ball Friedman returned to school taking business courses at Harvard. He then went on to enroll in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke. Friedman is currently Project Manager at John Deere.

Brendon Ayanbadejo

The son of an American mother and Nigerian father Brendon has a lot in common with Barack Obama. Both men are driven and seem to succeed at whatever task they set their minds to. In his 9th season of NFL pro ball this Baltimore Raven’s linebacker has had one of the longest and most successful professional football careers in the league. At the age of 35 Brendon knows that his football career is coming to a close. Ayanbadejo has recently enrolled in George Washington University’s STAR (Special talent, Access and Responsibility) MBA program.

Today’s guest article comes from Lisa Pluth. She writes about all aspects of higher education for OCM, (Our Campus Market). OCM has been providing college students with the best dorm supplies since 1981.

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