Dubner's first published work was in the American children's magazine Highlights for Children .  Dubner received a scholarship from Appalachian State University in North Carolina , and graduated in 1984. [ citation needed ] At Appalachian he formed a band, The Right Profile, which was signed to Arista Records .  In 1988, he stopped playing music to focus more on writing, going on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Columbia University (1990), where he also taught in the English Department.  In the 1990s, Dubner was a story editor at The New York Times Magazine .