sealPurdue Education & Careers Briefs

August 1997

Even veteran students can feel stress as school resumes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- The start of a new school year can be a time of eager anticipation or high anxiety for an elementary school student.

Youngsters have concerns about school whether they are attending kindergarten for the first time or are veteran third-graders.

"Young children can worry about getting lost in their school building, about their parents being available during the school day, or whether there will be someone who wants to play with them at recess," explains Douglas Powell, head of the Department of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University. "Often young children do not talk about these concerns in detail, or even at all, and parents need to watch for subtle clues in passing comments and questions."

Powell says parents have several options for making the transition from summer vacation to a more structured school day easier for the entire family. He recommends a visit to the school building and new classroom before classes begin, and an introduction to the teacher, principal or school secretary.

"A familiar face can be very reassuring on the first day of school," Powell says, "particularly in a 'new school' situation. If possible, help the child meet other students of similar age who could perhaps even be in the same class."

Powell also suggests:

If the child is in the habit of sleeping late during the summer, Powell says parents should begin to adjust bedtime and wake-up hours a few weeks before school starts so there is not an abrupt change during the first week of classes.

"The most important thing is for parents to talk in positive and concrete ways with the child about what school might be like; and to emphasize that teachers are there to help the child learn and do new things," Powell says.
CONTACT: Powell, (765) 494-9511; home, (765) 474-6313; e-mail,

Business schools cross-train grads for new age in industry

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Universities nationwide are using new tools to prepare future executives for a complex business environment.

Case studies traditionally have been one of the teaching tools of choice. Now business schools are making these case studies more realistic for students by mixing in historical data from business.

It all happens in the computer lab. At Purdue University, that's the new Enterprise Integration Lab, which simulates an entire firm's data flow.

"Information on accounting, finance, manufacturing and logistics all flow through the system. Working in the lab will allow students to understand the integrated nature of a business enterprise," says James Dworkin, associate dean of the Krannert Graduate School of Management.

In the lab, students see how something as simple as placing a product order triggers action within the business.

The Purdue lab, and others at the University of California-Irvine, California State University-Chico and the University of Texas at Austin, is using new software, R/3, created by SAP, a global software company. R/3 is a suite of business functions that manages operations and information across a business, such as manufacturing, finance, accounting and human resources departments. According to news reports, companies such as Owens-Corning, Compaq, Chevron and Colgate-Palmolive use R/3 and see major returns on their investment in the software.

"Students can use R/3 to discover what happens when the customer places an order for widgets," Lois Bruckner, SAP university alliance manager, says. "R/3 illustrates the flow of activity immediately. It's not as simple as placing an order and getting the product. The production schedule, the request for more raw materials, the adjustment to the ledger sheets, the invoicing system, all of these departments, and more, are affected by a single order, and a good manager knows how they all relate to one another."

Randy Williams, director of UC-Irvine's MBA Career Services Center, says students with an integrated background will have the edge over graduates who don't.

"The information technology paradigm is here to stay." Williams says. "It's not any one particular software package. It's the fact that we're teaching the next business executives to think in terms of cause and effect in their decision making. The phones in our placement center started ringing practically overnight when industries heard we were using R/3 in the classroom."

John Bartley, information technology director of Eli Lilly and Co.'s global business support department, agrees.

"We don't necessarily want or need people who only understand R/3, but there is a big gap in supply and demand right now for people who have backgrounds with integrated software," Bartley says. "It will be a huge benefit to graduate with an understanding of how these systems work and why they are important in the workplace."

SAP's Bruckner says working with business schools is a logical fit for her company.

"We depend on well-trained managers who understand what our systems software can do, so we're excited about the alliance with solid management programs like Purdue's. In bringing this program to the university setting, our goal is to teach and illustrate management tools; there is a tremendous need in the marketplace for students with R/3 experience."

Purdue's Enterprise Integration Laboratory will house 35 desktop computers and one server funded by a $140,000 grant from Hewlett-Packard.
CONTACTS: Bartley, (317) 277-4217
Bruckner, contact Narina Sippy, SAP America Inc., (617) 672-6646,
Dworkin, (765) 494-4364; e-mail,
Williams, (714) 824-8465

Some college credit is undesirable, finance expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Parents can add credit cards to the list of grades, peer pressure and other things they worry about when their son or daughter leaves for college.

A Purdue University professor says parents need to discuss credit management with their children before they send them off to school, even if the children don't have credit cards. She says chances are good they'll get one at school.

"When the students get to campus, they are bombarded with credit card offers," says Charlene Sullivan, associate professor of management. "Often these cards are offered along with free stuff, like T-shirts, travel perks and soft drinks. As a parent, I would tell my child to buy his own soft drinks and stay out of debt."

Sullivan says it's a good idea for students to have one credit card for occasional use and emergencies. And she says she believes that young adults should learn how to use credit responsibly. But she suggests that the card be issued from a hometown bank and be subject to parental monitoring.

"The trouble starts when students are issued their own credit cards with huge lines of credit and they begin to live beyond their means," Sullivan says. "It's easy to do and can snowball very quickly."

For instance, if a student racks up a balance of $1,000 at 18 percent annual interest, he's paying an average of $15 per month in interest. If he only makes the $10 per month minimum payment, the balance will actually increase each month.

From a business perspective, Sullivan says, students are a very desirable target for credit card companies.

"The assumption is that college graduates eventually will have an above-average income and be more future and investment oriented," Sullivan says. "So, if I were a credit card marketer, I would think, what better pool to put my fishing pole into?"

The truth, according to Sullivan, is that many college graduates are starting their careers with a lot of debt.

"I know a parent whose son had $25,000 in credit card debt when he graduated from college," Sullivan says. "He finally had to tell his parents, who helped him restructure the credit with a lower rate to keep their son from filing bankruptcy. Students don't realize how credit trouble can follow them. If you have poor credit, it can affect your housing options and your ability to buy a car, and some employers even check credit records to see how an applicant has handled his finances."
CONTACT: Sullivan, (765) 494-4382; e-mail,

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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