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Posts Tagged ‘Rutgers University’

Rutgers University Tops the Monmouth Hawks, 56 – 79
December 18th, 2010 | Added to Sports | No Comments »

Since I first purchased season tickets to the Monmouth men’s basketball team last season, I haven’t been faced with a situation where I was unsure who I wanted to win a game. Up until tonight, I wanted Monmouth to win every game, every time they played – period. However, tonight’s game presented a problem to me because I’m a graduate of both universities! Back in 2003 I earned a Bachelors Degree from Monmouth and a few years ago in 2006 I earned a Masters Degree from Rutgers.

What’s an alumnus to do?! Who’s an alumnus to root for?!

The Monmouth Mob Actually Showed Up

Well, as you might imagine I opted to root for Monmouth since it feels a little bit more natural to me. Also, I think I have more of a connection with Monmouth (good or bad). Although no matter what the outcome of the game, I knew that I was leaving the game with my alma mater winning!

But tonight’s game was an interesting one at the MAC Center in West Long Branch, New Jersey. Not only were there a bunch of red shirts in the crowd, but there was a crowd in the first place! Tony Graham over at the Asbury Park Press says that there were 2,852 fans in attendance and I wouldn’t doubt it at all. That building was jumping! Personally, I’m looking forward to this Wednesday night’s game against Villanova which I heard is completely sold out. That’s a 4,200 seat arena that is sold out – should be fun to watch.

Back to tonight’s game.

I was very impressed with the level of competitiveness that Monmouth played with early on tonight, but that would seem to for the Hawks’ style. When the Hawks play against bad teams, they play down to their level. When they play against good teams, they play up to their level. Being so inconsistent isn’t a good thing for any sports team and I wish that Monmouth would just play their game each time they take the court instead of acting like this weird chameleon type of team. Mr. Graham at the APP’s Hawks Nest had a quote from RJ Rutledge regarding Monmouth not playing their style of game in the latter part of the game:

“We hung in with them for most of the game,” Rutledge said. “It’s just that at the end we let the turnovers get to us and we didn’t keep on playing our game.”

The other major issue that bothered me tonight was that the final score didn’t reflect the level of competition that Monmouth played with for most of the game. When you see that Rutgers scored some 79 points to Monmouth’s 56 points, you think, “Wow. Monmouth got blown out.” The truth is that they didn’t get blown out at all and that certain players like RJ Rutledge, Ed Waite, and Nick Del Tufo had phenomenal games tonight. Sure, Del Tufo needs to keep his level of aggression up on defense, but he was one of the stars for Monmouth tonight. I will admit that the final score, though, definitely captured the feeling of the game in the last 5 or 6 minutes.

And that’s the final issue that bothered me about tonight’s game. As a fan sitting in the stands and having played competitive sports against all different types of skill levels of opponents, I’m pretty good at telling when a team packs it in and calls it a day. Somewhere with 4 or 5 minutes left in the second half, it really appeared like Monmouth packed it in and called it a day and that’s a damn shame. I don’t deny that Monmouth was outmatched in terms of skill, but I do believe that if Monmouth was playing at their best and playing their style of game – well, they may have had a chance of beating this Rutgers team tonight.

Here’s hoping that Monmouth can keep their level of aggressive, competitive play up for the Villanova game this Wednesday. If they can believe that a victory can happen, then you never know – something great might happen on Wednesday night.



Major Student Loan Announcement: My NJHESAA Loan is Fully Repaid!
December 10th, 2010 | Added to Money, Jobs, & Finances, Student Loans | 5 Comments »

That’s right, folks, you read the headline of this entry correctly. After 52 months of repayment – beginning way back in July 2006 – my New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (NJHESAA) student loan is now fully repaid. And now it’s time to celebrate! Well, before the celebration begins, let’s take a look at some of the facts and figures around this student loan. Starting with the screenshot of my account balance being listed at $0!

After graduating from Monmouth University in May 2003 and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University back in May 2006, I earned two powerful degrees: a Bachelor of the Arts Degree in English and a Master of the Arts Degree in Public Policy. However, I also obligated myself to an overwhelming financial anchor in the form of $120,720.46 worth of student loan debt. NJHESAA’s share of that anchor was $51,595.27. Believe it or not, I actually tracked how all of that student loan debt was assumed and here’s the breakout (the financial figures include both the amount of the loan and the capitalized interest; also, these are my figures and may be a few pennies or a dollar or two off from what the loan company keeps on file).

Freshman Year of College (1999 – 2000): $7,604.23
Sophomore Year of College (2000 – 2001): $9,233.47
Junior Year of College (2001 – 2002): $12,611.89
Summer Session (2002): $8,693.78
Senior Year of College (2002 – 2003): $12,941.06
Total NJHESAA Debt at Consolidation (Plus $510.84 Refinancing Fee): $51,595.27

Total Principal Paid During the Life of the Loan: $40,095.00
Total Interest Paid During the Life of the Loan (Includes Capitalized Interest): $24,251.61
Total Fees Paid During the Life of the Loan: $1,893.69

Total Amount Repaid: $66,240.30

I’m compelled to note that the total repayment amount is 165% of the original loan amount. I don’t know about your point of view, but the fact that hardworking students and graduates are put in a position to pay 65% over their original loan amount is revolting. What aggravates me the most is that I paid 165% of the original loan amount even though I engaged in an extremely aggressive repayment schedule.

Imagine the folks who can’t manage to engage in that type of aggressive repayment schedule. How much is their total repayment as a percentage of the original loan? I shudder to think of it…

Really – you should see this spreadsheet that I put together with all of my student loan debt broken out from each of my loan sources. I sit back and look at the spreadsheet these days and I can’t help but comment that the amount of debt I took out to attend both college and graduate school is absolutely remarkable. However (and let me say this again), I’m not some victim nor was I duped into signing these promissory notes. I fully understood that by taking on these student loans I would be fully responsible for repaying them. This is what I wanted and this rapid repayment is what I always planned to accomplish.

But what’s even more remarkable is that as of today, that $51,595.27 student loan (plus $14,645.33 in other interest and fees) sits at $0.00. It’s amazing. But where does that leave this whole repayment plan that I’ve been talking about for the better part of the last year? Well, actually… it’s over. I specifically created and designed the repayment plan to aggressively repay my NJHESAA student loan and as of today that goal has been achieved.

But there’s a new plan in place…

Only $54 thousand left!

This past summer I began envisioning this very day and thinking about what the next step in the overall repayment of my student loan debt might look like once this day arrived. So yes – I do have another repayment plan that will address my remaining student loan debt to the United States Department of Education (USDOE). However, my relationship with the USDOE has always been excellent. Their customer service folks are friendly and helpful and I’m not charged an interest rate that is borderline criminal. I think that I have a great borrower/lender relationship with the USDOE Direct Loans program and I’m looking forward to continuing to work within that relationship (which, by the way, carries into my professional life as I manage a large USDOE grant for my company).

And the other part about the USDOE Direct Loans Program that I love is how their online payment system doesn’t charge any additional fees to make a payment! A borrower logs online, makes a payment, only pays the amount of the payment, and that’s it! No additional fees. Period. Much different from the online payment system over at NJHESAA. For almost a year I’ve been on the USDOE’s automatic debit plan where they take an ACH transfer from my checking account each month to make the monthly payment that is due. I’m going to stay on that plan and then make some additional payments here and there to bring down the total amount of principal outstanding on this loan. By the way, if you were wondering how these additional principal pay downs impacted the repayment of the NJHESAA student loan, take a look at this breakout, which covers the entire time during which I engaged in this overpayment – starting from last December through today:

I’m not sure if I’ll wind up attacking the USDOE loan – which sits at about $54 thousand outstanding right now (down from a high of $59 thousand) – with the same vigor and hyper-focus that I put into repaying the NJHESAA loan. Over the summer, I drafted my financial goals for 2011 (yes, I draft my financial goals half a year in advance and then I revise them during the months leading into New Year’s Day) and among my financial goals for 2011 is to pay $10 thousand in excess of the minimum monthly payment due to the USDOE. And when you consider that I paid more than that to NJHESAA this week alone, it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish that goal!

However, I don’t plan on increasing my focus on the USDOE student loan until the end of this coming summer. This doesn’t mean that my financial vigilance ends today, though. My mindset today remains the same as it has for years: less spending + reducing debt + more saving + more investments = stronger financial health. In fact, I look at today’s victory through the words of the late Senator Ted Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in August 2008: “The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on.”

It feels weird to quote a Senator that I wasn’t crazy about from a political party that I’m ambivalent towards, but his words really fit the day.

For those of you who have been following my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com, I thank you for your patronage. If you’re coming to this page or to JerseySmarts.com for the first time through a Bing or Google search, then I welcome you to the blog and I hope that you stick around to hear the story of how I repay the remaining $54 thousand that I have outstanding in student loans to the USDOE.

The work begins anew… right now!

In May 2006, I graduated from Rutgers University with a Masters Degree and $120,720 in student loan debt. After completely repaying over $61 thousand in student loans from the federal Perkins loan program, the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, and CitiBank, I currently owe $54 thousand to the United States Department of Education’s Direct Loans program. Follow my student loan repayment story on JerseySmarts.com.

__________

Update – December 26, 2010: Hey everyone! I’ve added some downloadable content to this page. Now you can download a version of the spreadsheet that I used to track my repayment of this NJHESAA student loan. Incidentally, I’m going to use this same spreadsheet to track the repayment of my USDOE loan, too. In addition, I’ve uploaded a PDF of my official paid-in-full letter from NJHESAA. Oh, and this letter includes the amortization/repayment schedule, too… including a breakout of the $14,645.33 that I paid in interest alone! Feel free to look through this stuff and let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy!

Update – July 30, 2012: Sometimes, I get the urge to revisit some of these older posts. After reviewing this one, I noticed that the student loan breakout was not as clearly attributed as it could have been. So, I revised some of the numbers up above to show the true cost of the loan during its lifetime. The numbers above all “foot” (i.e. equal) the same amount paid to the NJHESAA – $66,240.30. However, with the revisions above I’ve better described how much of that $66,240.30 was actually principal, how much was capitalized interest or regular interest, and how much was different fees. For those of you who are learning about student loans and financing – capitalized interest is interest that is added to the principal amount of a loan. The interest due on my NJHESAA loan was added to the principal balance at the end of each semester. Anyway, the numbers above are more reflective of what I actually paid to this private loan company.



Getting Ready to Get Yelled at By the Doctor this Morning…
August 20th, 2010 | Added to Random Entries | 1 Comment »

Later this morning I’ll be heading to the doctor for my quarterly blood tests. Since I’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes I’ve had to head over to the doctor once each quarter to have my blood tested. They look at the glucose levels and some other stuff that tracks the level of my blood sugar over a longer period of time.

However, I think that the doctor will probably not be pleased that I’m weighing in at about 350 pounds. During my last quarterly blood test I went in there and weighed 347 (might have been 348, I don’t remember clearly). Since I graduated from Rutgers University’s Bloustein School back in May 2006, I’ve had a harder than usual time keeping my weight down in the mid to high 200′s (where I feel most comfortable). As I’ve said on this blog before, I attribute this problem to the fact that I spend at least two hours each day in a car commuting into Trenton and then back to Tinton Falls. It’s annoying and something that I think students should be told about in their life skills courses in college (they teach that stuff now, right? I don’t know).

Some people think that the way out of this problem is to get a different job. Frankly, that’s a dumb choice given the fact that my job is great and I’m building a stellar professional resume at my current company. At 29 years old I’m doing the same work (with ease) that folks in the middle of their careers struggle to understand. Plus, my current job has allowed me to take on teaching gigs at the local college and the state’s online college that really help me out in terms of incoming cash. Who doesn’t want extra money coming in, right?

Other folks might suggest that I absolutely have to make working out a part of my daily schedule. Well, I’ve been doing that to some degree and I think it’s helping. Though it’s just the Wii Fit, I’ve managed to work out on it for at least 30 minutes each day for over a month now (I missed working out on those days that I was in Boston, obviously). The Wii Fit has helped me drop about 15 – 20 pounds from my recent peak of 365 – 370 (that was a few months ago). The Wii Fit is a great tool for those of us that are generally running around like crazy people and just don’t have the time to work out.

Anyway, according to my bathroom scale, this morning I’m weighing in at 349.6 so I’m not really that far off from my last quarterly visit to the doctor. However, the truth is that I need to be going DOWN in weight during each visit – not up! If anything crazy happens during today’s doctor’s visit, I’ll let you know!



The Back and Forth Could Be Over – Reports of Travis Taylor Going to Xavier
August 18th, 2010 | Added to Sports | No Comments »

After weeks of speculation, it seems that former Monmouth University Hawk Travis Taylor has landed at Xavier University. According to a report from The Hawks Nest blog, Taylor chose Xavier after visiting the school and having a talk with his family. Here is some of the text from the report on that blog:

Taylor originally chose Boston College this summer but said (on the link we posted here) those plans didn’t work out. Xavier came into the picture soon afterward, and he gave his commitment after visiting the school this weekend and talking things over with his family.

He said he chose XU over Cincinnati, Miami U. and Arizona State.

“I picked Xavier for various reasons,” Taylor said. “I like the school a lot. It’s the kind of campus I’d been looking for, not too small and not too big. The coaches communicate very well and they had a good presentation to me. Players listen to them. And Xavier is a team that always wins.”

Maybe we can finally put an end to this odd chapter both in this young man’s life and in Monmouth University men’s basketball history. JerseySmarts.com wishes Taylor luck at Xavier University. And we’re really looking forward to getting back in the MAC Center for the coming basketball season!



Remarkable – Former Hawk Travis Taylor Now NOT Going to Boston College
July 20th, 2010 | Added to Sports | No Comments »

Frankly, folks, this is remarkable. Former Monmouth University men’s basketball player Travis Taylor was supposed to be heading to Boston College to play basketball in the fall. Well, the word on the street is that the plan to go to BC isn’t going to happen after all. Below is a portion of an entry from The Hawks Nest blog which talks about the reason why the plan wound up falling apart.

Former Monmouth forward Travis Taylor is now back on the market and won’t attend Boston College.

I’m hearing BC wasn’t aware that Taylor had been suspended for seven games last season for “violating team rules.” Really? How do you not know that?

Anyway, the 6-foot-7 Taylor, a Union, N.J. native, will visit Xavier Tuesday and is also considering Miami, Cincinnati and Arizona State.

“Travis and his family want to utilize the three remaining official visits he has left before he makes a decision,” a source with knowledge said. “Considering we’re about to enter the second live period this could drag into August.”

Taylor averaged 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last season.

Boston College Says No

Wow. I have a few comments on this new story from The Hawks Next. First, at this point I’m not sure if this information is confirmed or strong speculation, so it might be best to label it as allegedly true instead of known fact. Hey, we all thought that Taylor was heading to Boston College, right?

Second, let me echo what the Asbury Park Press’ Tony Graham wrote above – how did Boston College NOT know that Taylor was suspended for seven games in the middle of last season?! Really? They didn’t know that? Who does the recruiting up there? Were they asleep at the wheel? I don’t know the details of the situation, but one could make a strong argument that the primary reason why Taylor is leaving Monmouth is because of that suspension. So did the recruiter at Boston College say, “Why are leaving Monmouth?” and accept a generic answer like, “I’m trying to raise my profile?”

I mean come on!

And finally, I wanted to repost a comment that someone named redskin22 posted on The Hawks Nest blog:

This is very sad- Ego’s is what this move is all about. The damage that his mom and mentor have done to this kid is unbelievable.

Has far as taking him back to MU – No Way!!!! He, his mom and his mentor have burn that bridge. This is what happens when people who think they know college basketball get a hold of a kid. they screw it up almost always.

Look, I don’t know what the core reason was for Taylor wanting to leave Monmouth. There were rumors that Dave Calloway’s coaching style was too aggressive for most of the players and that he treated them like kids rather than young adults. Who knows if that is true other than the players? The comment above suggests that Taylor’s Mom wanted him out of the program – who has anyway of knowing if that is true besides Mrs. Taylor and her son? Was it Taylor’s “mentor” that brought the Mom and son delusions of grandeur? No one can know for sure.

What we do know at this point is this: Taylor was suspended for seven games in the middle of the season for violating team rules. The rumors suggest that it had something to do with smoking some weed, which was a very poor decision on Taylor’s behalf as it negatively impacted his teammates during the season, the health of his team after the season ended, and his own character in the college basketball world (as the Boston College story above represents). What we can all, I think, safely speculate at this point is that this was a tremendously bad decision on Taylor’s part and that it probably wasn’t worth the few hours of a high that he may have received from smoking up.

Then again, are we now expecting college kids to consistently act with the type of responsibility that we expect from ourselves as adults? I sure hope not because the vast majority of college kids don’t take into account what impact their actions have on tomorrow, let alone what impact those actions will have on their character a few months afterward!



It’s Official – Travis Taylor Leaves Monmouth for Boston College
July 12th, 2010 | Added to Sports | 1 Comment »

The folks over at ZagsBlog.com are reporting that Travis Taylor has officially left Monmouth University’s men’s basketball team to move to Boston College’s basketball program. Here is the report from ZagsBlog.com:

Former Monmouth forward Travis Taylor has opted to transfer to Boston College and play for former Cornell coach Steve Donahue. Taylor chose the Eagles over Seton Hall and Temple.

Taylor, a 6-foot-7 sophomore from Union, N.J., averaged 17.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last season

“This was an extremely tough choice for Travis and multiple factors played into his decision making process,” said Bill Diamond, the Taylor family adviser. “It was well thought out and he and his family asked all of the right questions. Travis loved the campus, the academic reputation and the coaching staff. He has an opportunity to earn immediate playing time in one of the best conferences in the country. Steve Donahue is a proven coach and will do a tremendous job in Travis’s maturation process on and off the court.”

Monmouth gave Taylor a conditional release, allowing him to move to schools not on the team’s 2010-11 schedule. Seton Hall is not on the schedule, while Rutgers is.

Taylor has not answered several calls to his cell phone.

He was suspended for seven games last season for “violating team rules” and the team went 2-5 during that span.

From my perspective, I’m really unsure about this move in terms of being a benefit for Taylor. In the NEC he stood out as clearly the best player on his team, but also as one of the best players in the league. Moving up north and into the Atlantic Coast Conference is a whole new world – I’m not sure how Taylor will be able to perform up there, but I guess all that anybody can do is wait and see, right?



Another Monmouth Hawk – Justin Sofman – Leaves the Men’s Basketball Team
June 11th, 2010 | Added to Sports | 2 Comments »

Unbelievable! Just when fans are beginning to digest the news that Monmouth University’s best men’s basketball player Travis Taylor is leaving both the team and the school we get hit with the news that Justin Sofman is also leaving. In an entry on the Hawks Nest blog earlier this week it was reported that Sofman has basically lost his love and passion for the game of basketball. Here are some of Sofman’s quotes regarding leaving the team and the game of basketball:

Justin Sofman is the Latest to Leave
By the way, none of the Hawks pictured are returning

Sofman said he can no longer “take the culture of it, the negativity, the yelling and screaming (of the coaches) if my heart is not in the game.”

“Maybe if I felt different about the game of basketball I would buy into everything,” Sofman said.

“I’m 21 years old. I’m not going to tell him (Calloway) how to do his job. I’m a psychology major. I’m not a coaching major.”

“I’m not going to get into how to motivate players and how to coach because I don’t know.”

“Just because I disagree with something doesn’t mean anything. What I do know is I didn’t feel motivated personally.”

“I didn’t agree with a lot of things. But how are you going to agree when you get screamed at all day, every day.”

“I wasn’t looking forward to next year without Travis, sort of,” Sofman said. “(Without Travis) it made it easier maybe (to leave). I think it’s better for the team and myself I part ways.”

Sofman said Calloway is not out of the ordinary in how he handles players from any of his other coaches dating back to high school.

“I’ve had my share of negative screamers,” Sofman said. “I’ve had the worst ones on purpose to get me ready for the next level.”

“The only difference was I was naive then and wasn’t as adult as I am now. The fact is I could take it back then and now it drives me nuts.”

“You can’t talk to an adult like that and expect to get results.”

Sofman said he liked Calloway as a person. “We had a nice conversation today (Tuesday),” Sofman said. “It’s just a conflict of working for him.”

I have mixed feelings on Sofman leaving the team because I think that he is a good player and a great asset to the team on many fronts. However, as a former high school athlete (and a pretty damn good one, too), I absolutely understand that feeling of completely losing interest in a sport in which you were once a fierce competitor.

Story Time! When I was in high school I was a pretty good wrestler. I wasn’t state championship material by any means, but I was pretty damn good. However, somewhere in the middle of wrestling season during my senior year in high school I began to really not give a damn about the sport any more (which was pretty bad since I was Captain of the team). I definitely continued to compete at a high level, but I didn’t want to win for the good of the team or for my personal advancement; more than anything else I wanted to win matches for personal pride. I’m not sure what caused me to not give a damn any more, but over the years I’ve begun to accept the notions that 1) I saw no professional or semi-professional athletic future for myself and 2) I subconsciously didn’t buy the “hype” that our coaches sold to us on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.

From Sofman’s quotes above, it sounds like he was in the same situation. When I read Sofman saying that he can no longer take the “culture of it” and that if he “felt different about the game of basketball [he] would buy into everything,” the very same feelings conjure up in my head that I had during my senior year of high school wrestling. Specifically, it’s the idea that you have to “buy into everything” that really piques my interest. Anyone who has played a competitive sport under a good coach at a competitive high school or college knows that coaches all have their own unique motivation techniques. Some yell, some scream, some run you into the ground, some speak softly and carry a big stick – it’s part of their style as a coach. A good coach will tailor his or her motivation techniques to lead his or her athletes to a bigger picture, larger goal, or greater accomplishment.

It sounds like Sofman didn’t want to deal with Dave Calloway or his coaching staff’s motivation techniques because he no longer saw the bigger picture, wanted to attain a larger goal, or even believed that there was a greater accomplishment.

Again, if this is how Sofman really feels (and we have no reason to doubt him), then I can’t really blame the kid for making this decision. I remember how my wrestling coaches told me that if I wrestled 100 competitive matches (or more) during the off-season that I’d come back better than my competition. So… I did just that. I wrestled over 100 matches during each of my off-seasons. That’s 100+ matches after my Freshman year of wrestling, 100+ matches after my Sophomore year of wrestling, and 100+ matches after my Junior year of wrestling. Was I better than my competition? Ehhh… it’s debatable. There were certain guys that didn’t last 30 seconds wrestling against me and there were other guys that I never beat. At the end of the day and after more than a decade to consider some of these issues, I don’t think that I was any better off because of those 300+ matches that I wrestled in the off-season.

I don’t write this stuff as a bitter ex-athlete. Not at all, actually. In fact, I look back on my days as a high school athlete with very happy and exciting memories! But as Sofman says in his quotes above, I’m an adult now and I see the system that I went through for what it really was – a prolonged motivation technique that, for the vast majority of high school athletes, doesn’t help them truly excel beyond their competition. It seems that Sofman has come to this realization, too. In fact, when I read his quote of, “You can’t talk to an adult like that and expect to get results,” I pretty much know that he’s done with these motivation techniques to push him to a greater accomplishment. And I completely understand.

All of that said, I’d still encourage kids to get involved with competitive sports while in school. Competition builds a certain character and, while these athletes are young teenagers, the camaraderie of a team helps them to develop the necessary social skills that they’ll need in many aspects of their adult lives. However, when all is said and done I appreciate where Sofman is coming from because I appreciate that sometimes you have to know when to say when.



 
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