Tag Archives: college

College Freshmen Are Bait for Cyber Sharks

Identity theft and countless other scams often are among the first life lessons learned by newly minted college students. As summer draws to a close, members of the Class of 2020 face an unimaginable number of potential pitfalls. Be prepared to meet the specific challenges ahead.

Most incoming college students, at some point, will find themselves feeling overwhelmed by their newfound freedom. With the exception of camp, it will be longest stretch of time many kids have been away from home. And for the majority, it will be the first time they are in charge of getting three square meals a day while staying on top of a busy schedule with a host of deadlines, something that can get away from them in the blink of an eye.

On top of all that demanding stuff, it is also the first time many will have to deal with the nitty-gritty of personal finance, health care and all the other facts of life that involve the trafficking of personal identifying information. And these deliverables, if they aren’t carefully tended to, can create major havoc.

This is where it becomes important to make sure that your children are aware of the dangers they will confront on a daily basis.

See also: Identity Theft Can Be Double Whammy

Bottom line: There they are, completely independent, free to study or not, stay out all night at the coolest venues (or not), and free to give their personal information to the first identity thief that comes along asking for it—or not. So, how do you keep them safe? A good place to start is with an actual or virtual sit-down, where you have a serious conversation about the dangers they face.

Here are a few not-fun-at-all hot spots that come to mind.

1. Credit cards: real and make-believe

While not at the fever pitch of the years preceding the enactment of the CARD Act, when banks littered college campuses with sign-up tables offering every inducement imaginable from free pizza to free T-shirts to extra points toward plane tickets and hotels for spring break, your kids are going to be offered credit cards. Managed correctly, a credit card can help them build the kind of low-risk profile that inspires mortgage and auto lenders to say yes to young people looking to finance their purchase of a home or a car. Credit is their first portfolio. (They can monitor their progress toward building good credit by viewing two of their credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

But credit also can be bad. There are scams out there that look like credit card offers but are actually nothing more than fraudsters collecting personally identifying information to be used to open accounts in your child’s name.

The best way to avoid this is to counsel your child to get a credit card on a reputable site or call the number on the back of one of your credit cards. There will be representatives who can steer them to the credit product that is right for them. (Keep in mind, they may need you to be involved in the process anyway, since the CARD Act prohibits banks for lending to anyone under 21 unless they can demonstrate an ability to repay or have a willing co-signer.)

2. Fake textbook sites

Textbooks can be very expensive. If an online book vendor offers deals that look too good to be true, it could well be a scam. Counsel them to never trust, always verify and only use sites that are recommended by people they know or that have been thoroughly reviewed.

3. Scam scholarships

There is no such thing as a scholarship that requires an application fee. Tell your kids to discuss all matters regarding scholarships and financial aid with you.

4. Phish ahoy!

Often deals or study aids come in the form of a link texted, emailed or floated as a post on social media. The basic rule here should be, When in doubt, check it out. Google is your child’s friend, as is a moment’s hesitation to decide whether this or that offer makes sense. Once again, if it’s too good to be true, and if they take the bait, the joke could be on them.

5. Everything new

If it is new to you, you might just hesitate and wonder what the catch is. For your kids—digital natives that they are—nothing new is suspect. It’s expected. Spotting frauds whether they are services, new ways to move money around or apply for jobs, credit or scholarships will all seem like the same old thing to them. Teach them to make phone calls and do background checks on new things before using them, because there are myriad “killer apps” out there.

There is no way to fully prepare young people for the threat culture they are about to enter, but with some wise counsel they can be pointed in the right direction, which is a good place to start. Hopefully they’ll listen.

This post originally appeared on ThirdCertainty.

Does College Matter Any More?

In the technology future we are headed into, the half-life of a career will be about five years because entire industries will rapidly be reinvented. Education counts more than ever. A bachelor’s degree is now the equivalent of high school, and technology skills are as fundamental as reading and writing. Given this, my greatest frustration is that Silicon Valley is regressing by encouraging children to skip college and play the start-up lottery. That approach glorifies college dropouts who start companies—even though the vast majority will fail and permanently wreck their careers. Billionaire Peter Thiel, who cofounded PayPayl and Palantir, goes as far as giving elite students $100,000 to drop out of college.

Sadly, I am on the losing side of this debate. My first defeat was in a globally telecast Intelligence Squared debate on whether too many kids go to college. With Northwestern University President Emeritus Henry Bienen by my side, I debated Peter Thiel and conservative icon Charles Murray. We lost, with 40% of the well-educated Chicago audience voting against the need to college and 39% agreeing with us. Needless to say, I was shocked.

I lost again over the weekend, on a segment on CBS Sunday Morning, which is the most watched morning news show in the U.S. CBS hyped the college dropouts without showcasing the dozens of failures and lives that have been ruined. CBS took the Thiel Foundation at its word that its fellows have started world-changing companies, created 1,000 jobs and raised $330 million in venture capital. These are gross exaggerations; even the  start-ups that CBS featured are all more of the same silly apps—and there are literally thousands more like these.

Here is what I said on the show:

“It breaks my heart when some of the most promising students don’t fulfill their potential because they’re chasing rainbows.

“It’s like what happens in Hollywood: You have tens of thousands of young people flocking to Hollywood thinking that they’re gonna become a Brad Pitt or an Angelina Jolie; they don’t.

“They don’t become billionaires. There haven’t been many Mark Zuckerbergs after Mark Zuckerberg achieved success.”

I added that there is little evidence the Thiel dropouts are doing much that isn’t already being done in Silicon Valley. “Everyone does the same thing: It’s social media, it’s photo-sharing apps. Today it’s sharing economy. It’s ‘Me, too,’ ‘More of the same.'”

You can see the full article published by CBS here, and you can view the segment here.

Active Shooter Scenarios

Campus safety and security is a topic of increasing concern on both a personal and institutional level. On-campus shootings can no longer be viewed as singular, isolated events. The good news is that the chance of an active shooter incident taking place on campus is pretty small. However, because of the random nature of such events, all institutions need to be prepared. Planning for an active shooter threat has become an unfortunately necessary part of the framework of institutional safety and risk management best practices.

Active Shooter Defined

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms(s), and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims. Active shooter situations are unpredictable and evolve quickly. Typically, the immediate deployment of law enforcement is required to stop the shooting and mitigate harm to victims. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, before law enforcement arrives on the scene, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation.

Colleges and universities understand the need for emergency response plans for many different types of disasters and typically already have processes and procedures in place to address multiple types of disasters. Planning for an active shooter threat can and should be integrated into an institution’s overall emergency and disaster preparedness plans. While many of the components are similar for most natural and man-made disasters, the inclusion of an active shooter plan generates an even greater immediacy for response. There are several considerations when it comes to the development and implementation of an emergency response plan to address any threat. These include the three Ps: Prevention, Preparedness and Post-Event Management and Recovery, each of which will be discussed in greater detail below.

See Also: “Boss, Can I Carry While I’m Working?”


Engage in Threat Assessment

Probing how threats develop can mitigate, diffuse or even eliminate a situation before it occurs. Active shooters do not develop in a vacuum. A joint study by the U.S. Department of Education, the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation concluded that individual attackers do not simply “snap” before engaging in violence; rather, they often exhibit behaviors that signal an attack is going to occur. The study recommends the use of threat assessment teams to identify and respond to students and employees.

As part of the threat identification and assessment process, an institution may elect to conduct pre-employment background checks to identify past patterns of violent behavior. While the background check process may not be a perfect indicator of future behavior, it does provide a useful mechanism for vetting a prospective employee. If triggering behavior is found, the threat assessment team can be used to evaluate the information and determine whether further action or intervention is needed. 

Encourage Training and Education

An essential component of prevention is training the campus community on how to identify both trigger behaviors and events that may trigger a potential incident.

Supervisor and Faculty Training: Train faculty on how to recognize early warning signs of individuals in distress. Supervisors/faculty should be aware of major personal events in the lives of their employees, as many incidents of violence occur in close proximity to such events.

Student/Community Training: Educate the campus community on how to recognize warning signs of individuals in distress and provide a mechanism for sharing that information.

Develop and Communicate Reporting Procedures

All employees and students should know how and where to report violent acts or threats of violence. Information regarding the function of the threat assessment team or other similar programs should be provided to the entire campus community. The institution should also have an internal tracking system of all threats and incidents of violence.

Continuing Staff and Student Evaluations

When appropriate, obtain psychological evaluations for students or employees exhibiting seriously dysfunctional behaviors.


Leverage Community Relationships

There are many programs and resources in communities that can assist with the development of active shooter response plans.

Include local law enforcement agencies, SWAT teams and fire and emergency responders in early stages of the plan development to promote good relations and to help the agencies become more familiar with the campus environment and facilities. The police can explain what actions they typically take during incidents involving threats and active violence situations that can be included in the institution’s plan. Provide police with floor plans and the ability to access locked and secured areas.

Invite law enforcement agencies, SWAT teams and security experts to educate employees on how to recognize and respond to violence on campus. Such experts can provide crime prevention information, conduct building security inspections and teach individuals how to react and avoid becoming a victim.

Review Resources and Security

Periodic review of security policies and procedures will help minimize the institution’s vulnerability to violence and other forms of crime.

  • Routinely inspect and test appropriate physical security measures such as electronic access control systems, silent alarms and closed-circuit cameras in a manner consistent with applicable state and federal laws.
  • Conduct risk assessments to determine mitigation strategies at points of entry.
  • Develop, maintain and review systems for automatic lockdown. Conduct lockdown training routinely.
  • Place active shooter trauma kits in various locations on the campus. Train employees on how to control hemorrhaging, including the use of tourniquets.
  • Provide panic or silent alarms in high-risk areas such as main reception locations and the human resources department.
  • Implement an emergency reverse 911 system to alert individuals both on and off campus. Periodically test the system to serve as training and verification that the equipment is functioning properly.
  • Equip all doors so that they lock from the inside.
  • Install a telephone or other type of emergency call system in every room.
  • Install an external communication system to alert individuals outside the facility.

Develop and Communicate Lockdown Procedures

Lockdown is a procedure used when there is an immediate threat to the building occupants. Institutions should have at least two levels of lockdown – sometimes called “hard lockdown” and “soft lockdown.”

Hard Lockdown: This is the usual response when there is an intruder inside the building or if there is another serious, immediate threat. In the event of a hard lockdown, students, faculty and staff are instructed to secure themselves in the room they are in and not to leave until the situation has been curtailed. This allows emergency responders to secure the students and staff in place, address the immediate threat and remove any innocent bystanders to an area of safety.

Soft Lockdown: This is used when there is a threat outside the building but there is no immediate threat to individuals inside the building. During a soft lockdown, the building perimeter is secured and staff members are stationed at the doors to be sure no one goes in or out of the facility. Depending on the situation, activities may take place as usual. A soft lockdown might be appropriate if the police are looking for a felon in the area or if there is a toxic spill or other threat where individuals are safer and better managed inside.

Evacuation Procedures Communication/Training

Evacuation of the facility can follow the same routes used for fire evacuation if the incident is confined to a specific location. Otherwise, other exits may need to be considered. Designate a floor or location monitor to assist with the evacuation and inventory of evacuees for accountability to authorities. Establish a meeting point away from the facility.

Develop a Communication System

Perhaps the most crucial component of an active shooter response plan is the network of communication systems. Immediate activation of systems is critical to saving lives because many mass shootings are over and bystanders are injured or dead before police can respond.

Create a Crisis Response Box

A crisis response box has one primary purpose: provide immediate information to designated campus staff for effective management of a major critical incident.

If a crisis is in progress, this is not the time to collect information. It is the time to act upon information.

Knowing what information to collect, how to organize it and how to use it during a crisis can mean faster response time.

Create an Incident Command Center Plan

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is a nationally recognized emergency operations plan that is adapted for large critical incidents where multi-agency response is required. NIMS facilitates priority-setting, interagency cooperation and the efficient flow of resources and information.

The location of an incident command center should be in a secure area within sight and sound of potential incidents with staging areas located nearby.

See Also: Thought Leader in Action: At U. of C.


To ensure a smooth transition from response to recovery, plans that went into effect during the event should be de-escalated and integrated into the plan for moving forward. This will include aspects such as:

  • Media and information management
  • Impact assessment
  • Facility and environmental rebuilding
  • Restoring student, staff and community confidence


Though an active shooter situation is unlikely to occur at most colleges and universities, it is still essential to be prepared. Failure to do so can cause the loss of lives, severe financial repercussions and reputational damage that could take years to reverse.

Additional resources for university risk managers and administrators are available in the complete Encampus Active Shooter Resource Guide, which is available for download here.

Tips for Bringing Kids Into Your Business

Is your son or daughter your successor? What are some things you and they can do to make this a successful succession? Mistakes to avoid when trying to make your son or daughter your successor? Mistakes they should avoid?

As a succession coach who advises multi-­generational family businesses on how to bring in the next generation, and as a business professional whose daughter has been working with her for nearly 10 years, I can offer a few tips that I have found to be helpful:

  1. While your children are attending high school or completing college, provide work experiences during the summer that allow your children to try out different departments and tasks, working with different managers (best never for you personally).
  2. Develop a family business employment and expectations policy defining requirements for education, professional experience and behavioral and performance expectations. If you are thinking ahead, introduce this to them when they are in high school or college to help give them a sense of how they need to prepare, what they should be studying and what it will take if they are considering a career in the family enterprise. This will create a road map so that your children have an opportunity to succeed.
  3. Before designing a job description or entering into any kind of discussion regarding potential employment in the family enterprise, make sure you spend some time in thoughtful discussion together investigating each other’s vision for the future. You may think you know what your children want to be “when they grow up,” but you may be surprised when you actually inquire.
  4. It can be helpful to engage an experienced coach to conduct the interview, using a personality styles tool (like PDP, DISC or Meyers Briggs) to help frame the conversation related to their natural strengths. Many times, I have found kids feeling like they are being squeezed into their parents’ shoes, and it’s not a good fit. If Dad started the business, is a natural at sales, relationship-building and strategic thinking, and Son is a thoughtful, reserved communicator who is very process- and detail-oriented, I can promise you, it will be a difficult path for the Son to ever live up to his father’s and the company’s expectations. Additionally, he will be miserable.
  5. Once you have identified the ideal career path that excites and suits your son/daughter, bring in your senior management team and discuss what you would like to do with them. Enroll the team in creating the right on-boarding process, job placement and develop agreements for how you expect your children to be managed and mentored. Also, how you will support your managers so they can hold your daughter or son accountable without fear of repercussion.
  6. Lastly, establish a family council to share information with all your children, not just the one or two who are currently showing interest. Let all your children know that there are many ways to participate with the family enterprise. Some may want to be community cheerleaders, helping in events and philanthropic activities, while others may dream of managing a division or eventually becoming your successor. You can achieve succession in a multitude of ways. You don’t have to always create a King of the Mountain, where your children have to vie to take your position upon your retirement.

Working with my daughter, watching her grow, keeping it real has been a great joy. I always, ALWAYS keep the most cherished element of our relationship in mind: She is my daughter. I wish her life to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. If that can happen while she’s working with me, it’s icing on the cake.