As of the time this article was written, I am a little over halfway through my junior year of high school. Among the classes I have this year is personal finance, which I find to be quite useful. But, in having this class, I realized some of my peers will go on to graduate without ever having been taught such valuable life skills.
Studies collected by the National Financial Educators Council show that most young adults have at least one large debt, as well as more than half expressing worry over inability to pay student loan debts. If lack of financial literacy is such a major problem amongst young adults, what are state governments doing to combat it? According to CNBC, “Only six states require a stand-alone personal finance course to be taken in high school.”
While Pennsylvania is not one of those six states, it does require public schools to allow students to put credits earned in personal finance classes toward their graduation requirements. However, this bill was put into effect just at the beginning of this school year, and does not make a personal finance class mandatory for every student.
I wanted to speak to someone I thought would know a thing or two about personal finance instruction, so I interviewed Lankenau High School’s Dean of Students, Dr. Butler, who also happens to teach personal finance. It is her belief that personal finance should be mandatory, “because too often, students aren’t taught how to manage their money. And with the media … they see all this fast money and money being spent, but they don’t know how to manage money.”
I also asked if there were any classes that teach life skills that she would like to see implemented into the school’s curriculum. She said “a business information course… A lot of young people are starting e-businesses or businesses based in Instagram or Facebook, and just learning how to set that up, as well as manage your money and the processes of the business.”
In summary, Pennsylvania is certainly making progress when it comes to personal finance class availability. The bill requiring schools to let students put in finance course credits for graduation requirements is a step in the right direction. However, there is still a lot we can do to prepare students for adulthood.