More than 175 students from Sparrows Point High School got a heavy dose of financial reality on October 26 when SECU and First Financial Federal Credit Union held a “Reality Fair” at Towson University’s SECU Arena.
The Reality Fair is designed to give students first-hand experience in managing their money and making smart, informed financial decisions that will help them once they graduate from high school and go on to college or jobs in the real world.
The interactive event allows students to make life choices about continuing education, career, housing, other expenses and saving in a test environment. Those participating were assigned careers based on their individual interests, along with a realistic monthly salary for that career. They then had to determine how to live within their means, all while paying for basic necessities such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing, food, and other essentials. While completed in just a couple of hours, it helps to prepare them for the real world and the choices, challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
While traditional classroom financial literacy training is beneficial, providing them with this ‘reality’ learning experience where they live with their choices and make adjustments when life throws them a curveball is invaluable. After making their decisions, all of which were recorded on a customized budget sheet, the students balanced their budgets to see how well they made out, then sat with financial counselors from the participating credit unions to review their decisions and what they could do to improve their money management skills.
Dr. Geoffrey Holland, a teacher at Sparrows Points High School, helped arrange this field trip and experience for his students. He states, “Today was a reality check for what is coming up for students in the future and also what they experience nowadays. It was very interesting having them sit down one-on-one with financial counselors to talk about their budgets and realize where they might have to rethink choices they made. This experience gives them the opportunity to better evaluate the decisions they will make in the real world.”
We are confident that these sessions will significantly benefit most, if not all, of the students in their future endeavors. Just like in the real world, the students had to make the kinds of decisions they eventually will need to make in their own lives.
SECU and First Financial Federal Credit Union look forward to hosting Reality Fairs on a regular basis. We will notify you of upcoming Reality Fairs and invite you to attend to witness how we are helping students be aware of their upcoming financial choices.