#Adulting isn’t easy. That’s a lesson that nearly 100 juniors and seniors from Kalamazoo Public Schools and Schoolcraft Community Schools learned as they attended a financial reality fair at WMU.
WMU’s Department of Finance and Commercial Law and Arbor Financial Credit Union partnered to educate the students from Kalamazoo Central High School, Loy Norrix High School and Schoolcraft High School in financial decision making at the interactive event.
Students started with a session in career planning, where they identified their career goals and likely career paths. Then, Dr. Matthew Ross, assistant professor of finance, facilitated a session using the Cash & Careers tool, which he developed.
“There are many misconceptions around the costs of college and the overall financial outcome it will have on a person’s lifestyle over time,” says Ross. “The Cash & Careers program helps students better understand the benefits investing in college can have on their financial and professional futures.”
After the initial sessions, students visited 11 booths where they engaged with finance professionals from Arbor Financial Credit Union to make decisions on housing, transportation, clothes, furniture, food and other expenses, keeping in mind their annual income and other budgetary items such as student loan payments and savings. The end of the fair included a debriefing session with a financial counselor on each student’s budget success and experience at the event overall.
The event was a success according to teachers who participated alongside their pupils. “Students learned a lot about careers, budgeting, expenses and choices for discretionary income and how to plan for the amount of money their chosen career will provide,” says Lori Pelton, a teacher at Schoolcraft High School. “It is nice to have an experiential learning opportunity with professionals to guide our students, and our students enjoyed seeing WMU’s Haworth College of Business and the opportunity to interact with WMU students and faculty.”