Financial education now!

During my 12 years of public education I read Shakespeare, Emerson and Homer; I studied the history of Rome and Athens; I received lectures on the Theory of Relativity and on the correct procedures for dissecting a frog. I painted, sculpted, acted and even learned how to play dodgeball and the clarinet. But never, ever in my 12 years of education did I learn how to manage money.

I never learned how to balance a checkbook, file a tax return or save for retirement. While my high school spent thousands on microscopes, wrestling mats and theater renovations, it never once found the money to invest in the financial education of its students. Sad as it is to say, I am sure that the terms APY, IRA, 1040, W2 and 401k are as alien to most high school seniors as they were to me when I was their age.

This is not to say I blame my high school. I believe that most high schools in this country focus on the traditional subject areas, while ignoring more practical areas, such as financial education. This traditionalist fixation on English, math and the arts is tragic. Although, studying calculus, Shakespeare and art history can certainly be enriching and relevant to the career options of some individuals; everyone gains from financial education. Every single high school graduate living in this country will have to deal with money throughout their lives. Can the same be said for literature and European history?

Everything I learned about money I learned from my parents and my college business and economics classes. Most of my peers (including most college students who aren’t finance or economics majors), however, don’t have that opportunity. They are condemned to go through life learning financial management the hard way; by trial and error; by losing money.

Although I believe financial management classes should be required in high school, it should at least be required at the college level. I therefore suggest that Kent State allow courses on personal financial management to count towards the LER requirement as an addition to, or as a replacement for, a science, humanities or social science requirement.

If proof of this need is required, one only has to look at our economy. Our current economic situation was caused, in large part, by people taking out loans they did not understand and could not afford. Now Congress is about to spend a trillion dollars to fix a problem that could have been prevented in the classroom. Although Kent State cannot solve the current crisis, it should endeavor to prevent a future one.

Michael Doyle is a senior economics major and guest columnist for the Daily Kent Stater.