Personal Finance enlightens students on financial future
On the first day of Personal Finance class, instructor Shaina Prough begins the semester by showing her students a TEDx talk by investment specialist Alexa von Toble entitled “One Life-Changing Class You Never Took.”
Lucky enough for the students taking Personal Finance, they are already enrolled in said “life-changing” class.
Prough said she is partial to teaching the course because of the big-picture impact it has on students’ everyday lives.
“We know from research that adults make decisions about money six to 10 times a day,” Prough said. “I think you need to have the education and resources available, so you make educated decisions about how to handle your money.”
The class follows Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance curriculum for high school students. Among the topics covered in Personal Finance include savings, the dangers of debt, insurance and student loans.
Prough said the discussions about student loans may make a significant impact on the lives of upperclassmen taking the course in particular.
“I think everyone has that mind set of ‘you have to go to college,’” Prough said. “I think after those discussions we have, a lot of students realize maybe college isn’t for them. It saves them wasting money that could be used somewhere else.”
Prough feels as though the skills learned in the class prove valuable to students throughout the rest of their lives and, if implemented, may lead to a better quality of life.
“If more people could learn to (manage money), our country and society as a whole would be so much better off,” Prough said. “We would have less suicides. We would have less bankruptcies. We would have more kids available to go to school to start their own businesses. It really is a trickle-down effect.”
Personal Finance is not currently a required course for students in our district, but it is in other communities in the state. Prough hopes to see the course added to the list of requirements for all USD 489 students in the near future.
“We have administration that supports it,” Prough said. “I think we would just have to go before the board and have it approved. I think it should be mandatory that every student be able to explain compound interest, be able to manage a checkbook, explain why they save, talk about debt, and plan for retirement—so many of those topics that are just taboo right now.”
Although she encourages all students to enroll in the course, Prough feels as though juniors and seniors get the most benefit from the information provided in class.
“I think it hits home,” Prough said. “They (upperclassmen) realize in a short amount of time they have to start making those decisions. A lot of them said last semester they didn’t want to go out and be adults. Well, you have to.”