The Value of an MBA

As the economy begins to improve, all industries will require the expertise of management professionals to help sustain financial growth and prepare for new organizational structure.
Many recent grads and working professionals consider earning a master’s degree in business administration (MBA ) to set themselves apart. According to the Corporate Recruiters Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (2011), 67 percent of employers expect to hire recently graduated management talent in 2012, and they plan to hire in increasing numbers.

It is important to remember, however, that there are no guarantees; it is important to determine the true value of an MBA in each unique career field.

Students Learn There’s Value in Pro Bono Work

Despite conventional wisdom, the axiom “You don’t get something for nothing” isn’t always true. It seems particularly untrue when college students provide communities with services on a pro bono or discounted basis in an effort to gain necessary experience.

For example, many dental schools have their students provide check-ups to children from low-income communities who don’t have a dentist. There are law schools that encourage students to offer pro bono legal services in the community to nonprofit organizations and low-income individuals who are in need.

Guidelines for Making Kids’ “Screen Time” Meaningful

It’s a fact: Children today are surrounded by all types of digital media from a very young age. Educators, parents and caregivers are left with the task of navigating through a multitude of handheld games, toys and online resources while debating the value of these different options.

Fortunately, research shows that computers can play a positive role in the education of children. Benefits include language, literacy and social development as well as the improvement of important problem-solving skills.

Experts and researchers in early childhood development offer the following guidelines for  computer use by youngsters:

Carpets Help Insulate Homes

<b>Carpets Help Insulate Homes</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – In today’s economic climate, Americans are trying to stretch their pennies by making their homes more energy-efficient. Green homes save money and help the environment, but if you have already invested in energy-efficient appliances, what else can be done?

Many homeowners don’t realize that their flooring choice can be a contributor to a home’s energy-efficiency. Unlike other forms of flooring, carpet provides insulation. Installing wall-to-wall carpet keeps your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, while also lowering your energy costs.

Recently, tests carried out at the Johns Manville Technical Center Thermal Labs confirmed that carpet and pad increase R-value, or the measure of thermal resistance, compared to other flooring materials. The higher the R-value, the better a material resists heat transfer. Carpets, with their higher R-value, are better able to keep heat within the home.

Researchers tested the carpets, both with and without cushions, against three common types of flooring — laminate, ceramic tile and engineered hardwood. The result? Carpets insulate up to 17 times better than hard surface products.

“Carpeted floors provide insulative properties in the home,” says Rick Ramirez, vice president of sustainability for Shaw Floors. “In addition to its energy-saving aspect, the warmth and softness of carpet create a more comfortable living environment. Plus, carpet offers sound dampening benefits, which contribute to a quieter home.”

Homeowners can make their homes even more efficient by following these simple, yet highly effective, steps from the California Energy Commission:

* Adjust the temperature accordingly. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.

* Reduce hot water temperature. Set your water heater to the “normal” setting or 120 degrees F, unless the owner’s manual for your dishwasher requires a higher setting.

* Get with the program. Installing a programmable thermostat can save up to 15 percent on energy costs.

To learn more about the insulation benefits of carpet, visit

Technology and Tots – Guidelines for Making “Screen Time” Meaningful

<b>Technology and Tots – Guidelines for Making “Screen Time” Meaningful</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – It’s a fact: children today are surrounded by all types of digital media from a very young age. Educators, parents and caregivers are left with the task of navigating through a multitude of handheld games, toys and online resources while debating the value of these different options.

Fortunately, research shows that computers can have important benefits for even young children, including language development, literacy development, social development and the development of important problem-solving skills. Here are some guidelines for the use of computers based on both current research in child development and the professional opinions of early childhood educators:

* Stick to a firm time limit for computer use. Recommended time for preschoolers (3-5 years) is 20-30 minutes per day.

* Computers should supplement — and not replace — activities and materials such as art, books, music, outdoor exploration, experimenting with writing materials, dramatic play and socializing with other children.

* Guide and be on hand to help your child, answer questions and interact with your child as she works on the computer.

* Look for online games, resources and Web sites with educational value.

One spot to visit for educational content is PBS KIDS Island (, which provides free research-based reading games and activities for children, parents, caregivers and teachers to use at home or in the classroom. PBS KIDS Island takes place in a virtual world, where children build an online island by playing games that feature beloved PBS KIDS television characters from award-winning shows, including Sesame Street, Super WHY!, WordWorld, Martha Speaks and Between the Lions. Games allow players to build and practice the critical skills needed to learn to read, like rhyming and letter identification. Parents and teachers are able to access children’s accounts to see how far their children have progressed in the game.

The site is an outgrowth of PBS KIDS Raising Readers, a multi-faceted initiative that focuses on using media to help children ages two to eight build reading skills. The initiative is funded in part by a Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education, part of a cooperative agreement with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), PBS and The Ready To Learn Partnership. For more information, visit

Granite Countertops Still Top List of Home Improvements

<b>Granite Countertops Still Top List of Home Improvements</b>“></td>
<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Despite the sputtering economy, consumer spending on home renovation remains healthy. Across the nation, homeowners are investing in home remodeling projects – especially kitchen makeovers – either to make their homes more appealing to buyers or more comfortable and enjoyable while they ride out the housing slump.

And one of the most popular home improvements is, once again, granite countertops.

A recent study of 10,000 consumers, conducted by the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, found that kitchen renovations remain at the top of the list for consumers seeking to add value to their homes. When the study asked homeowners, “If you were changing your kitchen now and had no budget constraints, what improvement would you make?” granite countertops were among the kitchen features they coveted most.

Many consumers are tightening their belts but remain eager for granite countertops, according to Garis Distelhorst, executive vice president of the Marble Institute of America, the nation’s leading natural stone association.

“Historically, consumers recognize that granite countertops enhance the value of a home in ways few other improvements can,” said Distelhorst. “No other countertop surface can measure up to granite in terms of practicality, timeless beauty, durability and safety. This natural stone has held its value in ways more trendy materials have not.”

Consumers continue to invest confidently in kitchen makeovers because the projects typically increase the resale value of their homes. In the last five years, kitchen remodeling projects have generally returned 80 to 85 percent of consumers’ investments, according to the “Cost versus Value Report” from Remodeling magazine.

Because kitchen renovations increase resale values, experts agree that if consumers can only afford to renovate one room in their homes, it should be the kitchen. In fact, an all-new kitchen “that looks great and is fun to work in” was the top priority of 2,200 home enthusiasts surveyed recently by Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

“What we’ve discovered is that the home continues to be our emotional center and the sweet spot of everyday life,” said Gayle Butler, Better Home’s editor in chief. “Economic uncertainty aside, we won’t stop spending, improving and dreaming.”

For more information, visit the Marble Institute Web site,

Six Tips to Improve Your Customer Loyalty

<b>Six Tips to Improve Your Customer Loyalty</b>“></td>
<p>(NewsUSA) – Statistics show that, on average, U.S. companies lose half of their customers every five years.</p>
<p>It’s true that acquiring new customers will help your business grow. However, your current customers are the lifeblood of your business and keeping them happy should be your highest priority. Here are a few ways to make sure your customers keep coming back.</p>
<p>* Understand lost customers. Many business owners mistakenly believe that customers choose to patronize other companies solely because of better prices. While pricing can be a concern, customers often head to the competition when they don’t feel valued.</p>
<p>A change of lifestyle may have also created a situation where customers no longer need your product. By staying in touch with their needs, you might be able to adjust your offering to continue servicing them.</p>
<p>* Know your customer’s top priority. Maybe it’s reliability or speed or cost. Your company should know your clientele’s No. 1 priority and consistently deliver it. Remember, customers’ desires change frequently, so ask yourself this question every six months.</p>
<p>* Acknowledge the lifetime value of customers. The lifetime value of your customers is the income you would gain if a customer stayed with you as long as they could possibly buy your product or service.</p>
<p>For example, the lifetime value of a customer employing a financial adviser could be several decades and could span several generations. Treat the parents well and you could win the children’s business.</p>
<p>* Create a positive first impression. Good first impressions tend to generate loyal customers, and you get only one chance to make a positive first impression.  Appearance is important. The exterior and interior of your business should be neat and clean.</p>
<p>* Listen to the customer. Employees should listen actively to customers. Reassure your customers that you genuinely want to help them. Customers will judge your business based on the politeness, empathy, effort   and honesty of your staff.</p>
<p>* Address and resolve complaints quickly and effectively. Inevitably, your employees will encounter unsatisfied customers. Whether they’re returning an item or changing a service, customers expect a fair policy. If you cannot offer a resolution immediately, let the customer know when he or she can expect an answer.</p>
<p>Demos Parneros is president of U.S. stores at Staples Inc. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and today is the world’s largest office supply retailer serving small businesses.</p>
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