Students in Free Enterprise deliver crash course in online banking

Business students at Kennesaw State University are gaining real−world experience in the art of project management through a service−learning initiative designed to introduce area high school students to online banking.

Georgia (Feb 17, 2003) — Business students at Kennesaw State University are gaining real−world experience in the art of project management through a service−learning initiative designed to introduce area high school students to online banking.

In collaboration with Bank of America‚ a Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) team headed up by Nathan Barrett is traveling from school to school‚ using a combination of puppets and PowerPoint to help the next generation of consumers develop the financial skills they will need to succeed in the real world.

"Basically‚ what we’re trying to do is teach these kids a little bit about personal finance and other ways to do it than just the traditional ‘going to the bank’ and doing your transactions that way‚" Barrett said. "(The puppet show) gives them a little break from just the person standing up there delivering the presentation by mouth; it gives them something fun to look at‚ something different."

One recent destination was Harrison High School in west Cobb County‚ where Barrett and his cohorts conducted an hour−long presentation for students in Michael Dickens’ banking and personal finance class. The production started with a puppet show chronicling one student’s misadventures trying to secure tickets for his school prom. A PowerPoint presentation provided by Bank of America followed‚ after which time a question−and−answer session brought the period to a close.

Dickens was pleased with the content of the presentation. "It’s real−life stuff‚" he said. "Mostly‚ the reason I teach this class is because there’s no other opportunity for them to learn all about personal finance until they get to college and they start making mistakes that can hurt them. This is just another way of educating them‚ to keep them from making those stupid financial mistakes."

All of the KSU students participating in the project are current or – in Barrett’s case – former members of Dr. Gary Roberts’ principles of management course. One of the requirements for that class is participation in a service−learning activity such as this one.

"I call it service learning/final exam‚" Roberts said. "It just simply reinforces the textbook material‚ so to speak‚ and it also lets them begin to recognize that ‘know who’ is as important as ‘know how.’ I keep stressing that over and over again; it’s who you know that lets you get the right equipment; it’s who you know that lets you make the appointments; it’s the network of relationships that you develop over time that makes you effective as a businessman or woman."

In addition to the networking opportunities the activity provides‚ members of the SIFE team are also learning other skills that should serve them well as they move forward in their chosen field.

"I’m getting a lot of experience on managing projects‚ developing them‚" said Barrett‚ a dual major in business management and computer information systems who is involved in the project through SIFE. "This project didn’t exist before this fall; we built it from the ground up."

As Roberts sees it‚ the experience his students have gained serves as a dress rehearsal for the type of situations they will face in their future careers.

"The thinking is the project manager is responsible for everything that happens or does not happens in the project‚ and that’s an alien concept‚" he said. "Somewhere along the line they need to learn that‚ because when they go out into the business world‚ that’s what project managers have to do; they either get it done or they don’t. If they get it done‚ they get credit‚ and if they don’t get it done‚ they’re the ones held accountable for that; it’s called sweating the details."


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit