As college ends for students, they’re plagued with many difficult decisions –– Where to live, where to work and how are they going to get there. The problem is most of them are unable to carry out some of the fundamental tasks for their own success due to a lack of financial literacy.
College students are in a transitional time filled with changes and adjustments, however, some things remain consistent. Things such as taxes that have to be filed every single year –– a task many people struggle with doing themselves –– will always be a reality. Or, things such paying off debt from loans taken out to complete one’s education will remain a daunting task for anyone new to the workforce. It’s imperative that millennials –– more specifically current college students –– increase their financial literacy.
Robert Farrington of Forbes said in a recent article that many of the issues millennials face are due to financial illiteracy.
“It’s a lack of follow up and understanding of financial organization. Many young adults expect everything to just happen,” Farrington said. “However, too few are following up with mail (yes, real physical mail) and then writing checks or setting up online bill pay.”
Somewhere along the way, an emphasis on education of financial topics such as these were lost in translation. These things aren’t being taught in the classroom nor at home.
Susan Beacham, CEO of financial literacy firm Money Savvy Generation said in an article that parents of today are so busy and worried about their children falling into traditionally bad habits, they aren’t paying attention to teaching money.
“Today’s parents are concerned, busy, overwhelmed, trying to keep kids off drugs and alcohol,” Beacham said. “They do not wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t teach them about money.’”
What’s even worse, the few people that learn about money from their parents sometimes pick up their same bad habits later on.
USA Today reported that the flaws of millennials financial education could have wider implications on their futures and even larger consequences for society.
There are several courses of action that could potentially help this problem. At the high school level, schools could begin to change the common core of required classes they have to take to include a required class that’s based solely on reiterating proper financial courses of action. Most high schools only offer an economics course that addresses more macroeconomics and large scale financial information rather than practical tips for students such as how to file taxes, build credit and form investments.
Even during their undergraduate experience, many students struggle with things like paying bills on time or properly balancing money for things like groceries. At the university level, Baylor could offer a course for non-business students that focused on similar practical financial tips rather than just accounting strategies. Baylor also has the unique opportunity to invite people who specialize in fields such as personal finance to speak at large venues like Chapel and lectures. While classes would be of great benefit to students, having a Chapel session devoted entirely to balancing a budget would no doubt impact hundreds of students, and help Baylor avoid having to rework curriculum.
Additionally, Baylor students should take advantage of resources at the Office of Career and Professional Development. An email sent Tuesday announced a free financial education program called Student Financial Foundations. Students can get tips on managing money, including scholarships, loans, credit cards and more. The program is offered online, allowing students the flexibility to use the financial literacy program as their schedule permits. Students can also schedule appointments with advisors to discuss the online financial foundations tools and other resources.
No college experience will prepare someone for everything they face when they get out into the real world. However, between teachers, parents and professionals, we must focus on improving the educational shortcomings in regards to financial literacy. As students, we must take the initiative to say that financial literacy matters to us and that we want to learn how to manage our money.