I spent the summer providing thirty-nine high school students with a crash course on important financial information as part of D.R.E.A.M.'s Financial Empowerment: 101 program. I must say, it took me the entire summer to realize just how important it was for each and every student to grasp the core concepts that we discussed. My mission was clear: enlighten a group of high school students to enable them to become more financially literate.
At the beginning it felt like a high school economics class mixed with some advanced statistics and minor history. We discussed different methods of budgeting and effective ways to save money. The students had mind stumping experiences as they learned how someone goes about saving for retirement and reassessed whether they truly understood the game play of Hasbro's "Monopoly". There were some topics that I had trouble getting across to the students. At first glance it seemed as though my wet ears were rearing their ugly heads and my inexperience at teaching was beginning to backfire. However, I just needed a way to present the material so that the students could relate to it and find relevancy within their own lives.
I ultimately decided to create simulated scenarios for the students to manage "fake money" as the best course of action. After all, experience is the best teacher. The students took turns explaining how they would manage their expenses using their income on a weekly basis. No surprise, they realized that some purchases were not as practical as they sounded. For example, seeing a movie with a bucket of popcorn every weekend may not be the best decision on a tight budget. The students were able to successfully absorb the information and my fear of public speaking was magically beginning to dissipate; however, it wasn't until the final presentation that the students conducted that I realized that the summer was larger than the educational sessions.
The students used the final day to present the information they had gained over the summer to their families. The results were astonishing. Midway through the presentation, a Q&A session had transpired. The students were relaying knowledge that was now very basic to them and left their parents loaded with mysteries and questions. It took so long for the presentations to end that we had continued past the allotted time provided.
For some of the parents, this was the first time they had heard of many of the terms and even some of the basic concepts regarding banks and different savings accounts. Even I, who took the seat as a student for the day, realized how mature and advanced the topic of shareholding was for a sophomore in high school and the ability to explain it in-depth to a crowd full of individuals. Those parents had displayed the desperate need for a financial education to be a family matter not just for our youth. Teaching Financial Empowerment: 101 was a much needed learning experience for me and those thirty-nine students became a small representation for a prosperous future for the next generation.
About the Author:
Mr. Edward Makinde served as a D.R.E.A.M. Management Associate intern. He is a rising junior at Gettysburg College, where he is pursuing a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Science.
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