As students we will always complain about being in the poor house; sometimes we even say it after plopping down serious money for frivolous purchases. Some of us really are working through tight financial constraints, others simply don’t know how to manage their money. Through my four years here, I’ve seen more students who throw more of their money to the wind than those who struggle to rub two quarters together.
Usually, I would take this opportunity to cry out for increased self-responsibility among the student body; but this case is different. People our age have never been taught how to manage their money by either the public school system in our state or our fine university. It represents a failure in our educational system that in our rush to prepare more students for standardized tests and for tough university requirements we have neglected to teach than how to be financially literate in even the simplest of regards.
I was lucky that my parents taught me to be somewhat responsible with my finances and how to make sure I put a little bit of my check from the Lanthorn away for savings. There are far too many students on this campus that have to rely on having their mothers manage their monies or even hiding cash from themselves for fear of overspending, and it’s not because Grand Valley State University is a school for the dumb and reckless (that would be Western). GVSU is full of intelligent students who have been forced to learn how to manage their money the hard way.
While GVSU can’t change the public high school curriculum, it can add personal finance to its laundry list of general education requirements. Adding a personal finance class to the GenEd requirements that teaches students about banking products like checking and savings accounts, credit cards, CDs and loans; in addition to basic investment principals and budgeting would go a long way toward putting all GVSU students on a level where they could at the least keep themselves solvent.
A personal finance requirement would not even add to the course burden of students since GVSU reduced the theme requirement last year from nine credits to six and dropped the junior-level writing requirement. Putting up with the small hassle of having everybody take a class to manage their finances would probably be the most relevant general education requirement at our university, and given the rough shape of the Michigan economy, it would help students be financially sound when there isn’t much money to go around.