Reality check: Vincent students get a glimpse of the real world
Published 10:52 am Monday, February 29, 2016
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
VINCENT—Brett Burrage looked down at his balance sheet, trying to budget for groceries, house payments and a 3-year-old child on his salary as a chemical technician with a two-year degree.
“The hardest part is just staying in the positive,” Burrage said, adding groceries cost more than he anticipated.
In reality, Burrage isn’t a chemical technician, he’s a junior at Vincent Middle High School, and on Feb. 26, a participant in the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce’s Keeping it Real Program.
The program is designed to introduce high school students to the real world and demonstrate the value of education and job training.
Each student is assigned a life scenario complete with an education level, job, salary, marital status and number of children. They are then tasked with budgeting for their lives.
Vincent students visited 12 stations set up in the school’s auditorium, filling out their balance sheets with a number of real world expenses: Insurance, housing, transportation, childcare, clothing and more.
“This is reality, this is what people do,” Gina Cannady, with program sponsor Legacy Community Federal Credit Union, said. “It’s something so basic, but we’re not teaching our kids (about budgeting and finances).”
While most stations required students to spend money, the education station allowed them to invest in themselves and improve their financial outlooks.
“Today is all about learning to budget, learning what things cost and the value of education,” GSCCC President and CEO Kirk Mancer said.
Vincent senior Carson Abernathy opted to invest in a master’s degree to improve his economic status as an editor with two children.
“Some of this stuff is a lot more than I thought it would be…education was surprising how much it helped,” Abernathy said. “Going back to get the master’s degree helped.”
The Keeping it Real program isn’t just about teaching students to budget, it’s also preparing them for the reality of life as an adult.
“I think it’s a real world glimpse because they’re having to think beyond (buying) the car they want or the phone they want,” South Shelby Chamber of Commerce Executive Director April Stone said. “It’s about groceries and keeping the lights on.”
Now in its third year, the Keeping it Real program also encourages students to begin planning for the future beyond high school. This type of forward thinking benefits both the students and the Shelby County workforce, Stone said.
“We’re excited to be in the high schools of the communities we work closest with,” Stone said. “We’re all concerned about making sure our emerging workforce has a good place to work.”