UA should promote personal financial literacy seminars

UA should promote personal financial literacy seminars

CW / Kylie Cowden

Higher education is an investment. Whether it be tuition dollars paid or simply the opportunity cost of delaying the start of a career, attending college involves costs that students anticipate will lead to returns upon graduation, such as higher salaries, more desired occupations or a general attainment of knowledge and life experience. While college is more than a career prep program, students attending college expect to leave with something they did not have when they arrived for their first semester.

While the general expectation is for students to leave school with newfound knowledge or technical expertise, many universally needed skills are ignored. Often overlooked tasks such as paying income taxes, purchasing insurance and financing debt are critical once in the workforce, but are rarely if ever covered in a classroom setting. Generally considered business-related in nature, such subjects are far more prevalent than solely in the realm of business graduates, and are needed by most people at varying levels. Students may graduate with valuable writing and researching skills but with very limited know-how as to how to manage the income and assets they will presumably begin to acquire once working. A high-paying job is far less valuable if the worker does not properly handle the money they earn and loses out due to easily corrected mistakes. Unlike some skills, financial literacy is directly applicable regardless of career path.

To address this reality, the University should require, or at least strongly encourage, a seminar that overviews the basic financial skills that nearly all graduates will need, regardless of major. Finance majors are not the only students who will someday manage money, just as English majors are not the only students who will read and write after college. From engineers and musicians to chemists and teachers, nearly all students will someday need the ability to manage personal assets and make responsible financial decisions. A course on the various related subjects in personal finance would provide a terrific platform to ensure students are exposed to the many skills that would be of tremendous use to them in the years to come. Students could learn the benefits of buying or renting, how much and what kinds of insurance to buy, and reasonable interest rates to expect when borrowing, among many more topics. Different from most classes, such a seminar would have students from many different fields learning the same skill set to apply directly in their own lives, arguably as important a skill as any that could be learned while in attendance.

By providing students with an invaluable set of skills that is directly applicable to everyday life, the University would be working to maximize the gain students receive from attendance. Regardless of the route taken after graduation, students will benefit from learning the important financial skills that any career will require in their personal life. With an added focus on after-college financial literacy, the University will increase the return on investment for its students, and will provide them with additional skills to use throughout their lives. 

Hunter Richey is a senior majoring in economics and political science. His column runs biweekly.

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