Do you know how to pay taxes, set up a bank account, create a budget or take out loans? Probably not, but then again, it is not required for students to learn some of the most important life tools in high school. That is why personal finance should be a required class for all students.
In order to be successful and financially stable, you need to know how to manage your money. This is especially important for college students who need to budget their money and manage their loans, nevertheless there is no required class at Loy Norrix that teaches you these things.
Loy Norrix offers a non-required, extra-curricular math credit called personal literacy finance. You learn how to develop a budget, calculate income and outcome, manage debt, file taxes, calculate salary, and maintain good credit. It also teaches more personal things such as, determining wants versus needs, choosing a career, the importance of health/life insurance, and how to build a resumé. Since this class is not mandatory, many students do not learn this information in high school and struggle with it after they graduate.
“Budgeting wasn’t something I had to do when I was living with my parents. Then after high school you are pushed into college and you have to figure it out, or you don’t eat, and it’s still something that I struggle with. There was no class like personal finance at my high school, so I didn’t learn how to be practical with my money,” said English teacher Paige O’Shea.
Teachers and students both agree that not everyone learns these important life skills and that it affects their life later on.
“It [personal finance] is more important than any other math class. I think it’s the one class that students find the most relevant and they can relate to the most,” said Loy Norrix math teacher Samantha Maxwell, who is currently teaching the course.
Loy Norrix requires college readiness, a class that is supposed to fully prepare you for college, but it doesn’t. Most students take it their freshman year, so they don’t remember the information when it’s time to apply to colleges. It teaches you more about the experiential side of life, like choosing your backup colleges, how to be prepared for balancing a job with school, and looking at future careers but it doesn’t teach you everything. The rest of what you need to know, such as information about college and living expenses, the dangers of credit cards and how to get a job are all taught in personal finance.
“I took away the ability to understand my own finances for now and in the future. Every student should take it cause it’s not just a class you will use in high school, it’s a life long class,” said junior Maggie Swafford, who has taken the course.
Since this is such an important class you would assume that it would be required. However, getting a class to be required is much harder than just complaining to the school board.
“Most of all the required courses are determined by state law. Then our school board interprets it, taking input from the local community and thinking about our college going culture, saying we should have that course mandated for graduation,” said Christopher Aguinaga, the Dean of Students at Loy Norrix.
Personal finance is not required because it falls into a math extra-curricular category that is optional for seniors who don’t want to take precalculus or AP calculus. It is a practical elective that fulfills the required senior math elective.
“The question of should we ever require [personal finance] hasn’t ever been formally investigated by administration and by teachers. Personally, I think it is something that really needs to be looked at whether the concepts are required in that class or it is required that we incorporate them into another course,” said Aguinaga.
Many students don’t realize the importance of this class and don’t think they will use the information later in life, until they get in the classroom and see how applicable it is. Every student needs to know how to be financially independent and the reality is that you will use the course curriculum throughout your entire life.