Across the board, universities require their students to complete a set of general education courses. Their purpose is, through a widespread series of courses, to provide each student with the necessary educational foundation in which the remainder of their higher education will build upon.
Essentially, they are supposed to be content rich.
I, on the other hand, would have to disagree. Besides the fact that I have a whole slew of problems with the structure of our university’s compilation of the core curriculum classes, I would have to say there is one aspect, one area of emphasis that is missing, that has led me to believe that the setup isn’t providing its students with the most fruitful and complete set of courses as possible.
My main problem is this: Our educational system puts little to no emphasis on the value of students knowing how to effectively budget or develop financial prowess.
What’s happening as far as core curriculum courses go at the university level is, as you have figured out, that the liberal arts have a slight leverage over the science and math component. This arrangement says a lot about the importance that is placed on certain subjects.
Our university has made an attempt at deeming a set group of courses that are important for all students in order to have a more desirable and competitive education that encourages learning and development, all while disregarding the fact that knowing how to successfully manage your funds is more crucially important now than ever before. So why is financial education not a component as well?
Because, traditionally speaking, it has been stressed that the importance of teaching historical perspectives, basic math, composition and global awareness outweighs that of financial education.
What’s the root of this problem? Well, like the roots of a tree, there are many. For one, budgeting, much like grammar, is a skill that we are just expected to know how to do, and do well.
But just as all the exceptions and rules of English grammar make it difficult to master for many students, budgeting, essentially money management, exists in the same way.
Instead, we have credit and debit cards, checks, online banking, loans and jobs that don’t pay nearly enough to cover all that needs to be paid. All of which, although exceptional resources and tools, complicate effective money delegation by creating this illusion of invisible money, and in terms of loans and credit cards, an illusion of free money, especially when you get that hefty refund check deposited directly into your bank account.
People in general, I figure, have a difficult time conceptualizing our future situations. Specifically, it’s difficult to imagine where we will be at financially in the future. I think many times, we assume that when we graduate, we are guaranteed to a well-paying job that will cover all the bills that we have acquired.
Ideally, that hope isn’t impossible to attain, but we have become accustomed to disregarding the words of Benjamin Franklin entirely by acquiring copious amounts of debt and doing and learning tomorrow, what we could have done and learned today.
We spend now and worry later.
For example, the Huffington Post claims that the average college graduate as of 2010 has accumulated $25,250 in loans. If the monthly minimum payment is $150, after approximately 14 years, you will have finished paying back your debt, naïvely assuming there is no interest.
This concept is, as I have come to realize, difficult for many people to grasp. How do you get your head around $25,000 of debt? How do you get people to realistically understand what it means to have bills and successfully allocate money to its creditors?
The solution, I believe, is implementing and requiring students to take money management courses.
But my complaint isn’t solely focused on how to manage loan repayments. We need to shift some attention to teaching students early in their life the benefits and rewards of budgeting and financial planning.
If the array of core subjects is so inherently valuable and they serve their purpose of expanding the educational horizons of students, the implementation of money management classes can serve the same purpose. Being knowledgeable and aware of your financial reality is just as important as reading comprehension, basic math, biology or literature.
Nicole Frazier is a senior English and Spanish major. Her column appears every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.