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Some accuse today's college students of being apathetic:

They haven't met Christina or Sharon.

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In fact, I found Christina and Sharon so ambitious that I am now a little disillusioned about how my own goals measure up.

These two are fourth-year students in Northeastern University's five-year co-op program. And they already sound as if they had entered the professional business level.

It made me wonder how students at a four-year liberal arts college (my situation) could expect to compete with students who had been both studying and practicing accounting (Christina) or marketing (Sharon) for the past four years.

They discussed possible schools for obtaining their master's degrees in business administration, and law schools for the JD degree. Christina impressed me by knowing about a program at Stanford University in California where she may attempt to earn her MBA in conjunction with the JD.

Are all students at Northeastern willing to devote years of study to this extensive education?

Christina and Sharon are officers of Northeastern's Black Business Society, and it occurred to me that they might be two of the sharpest business students in their class. Christina, vice-president of the organization, informed me, however, that the bachelor of arts students could not expect to compete with the MBAs.

Then she explained that many students were necessarily insuring themselves against taking a back seat to those who had completed the master's degree program.

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They pointed out, however, that for fellow students in the School of Engineering, the job-market demand for the bachelor of science degree is high. Consequently, many engineering students do not go on to graduate school.

In a time of tight employment, these two students seem well aware of one thing: The less training the firm will have to give them, the higher their chances are of receiving the job. It appears that student awareness of market demands is one of the greatest assets of Northeastern's cooperative plan.

Although Christina and Sharon have obviously made the right move toward lifelong financial stability, I find myself confused about which route to take.

Students often face the choice of whether to study something that will bring economic reward or subjects that will bring personal satisfaction. Many students find both go together. Many do not. The compromise goes both ways.

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