Building the Next Great Generation Starts With Financial Literacy

“I can’t adult today.” It’s a standard funny line, and it’s funny because it’s so true. Young people have no problem standing up and taking care of themselves. They are creative, talented and adventurous. But financial life skills are often lacking from their education. Parents sometimes share their knowledge, but in families of lower economic means, that knowledge might not be there to share.

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One of the largest shocks for college-bound students isn’t the cost of room and board. It’s the surprise expenses – extracurricular studies, conferences, unpaid internships, testing fees, living costs, and more. The “Hidden Costs of College” report, underwritten by Charles Schwab, found that when students are prepared to manage their finances, these costs become an obstacle. But when students don’t have that preparation, they can often become a barrier to higher education.

When we asked current college students what would have best prepared them for college life, we found that personal finance workshops, financial literacy courses and basic financial life skills courses on the high school level would go a long way to demystifying some of the “can’t adult today” financial puzzle. These courses aren’t typically required, meaning that most teens – especially those without parental support – are left to find their own financial way. 52% of those students who felt financially prepared to go to college said that they learned financial skills from their parents, while fully half of those without that support at home said they wished they could have gotten it at school.

In addition, credit card companies are happy to issue cards to entering freshmen. Students get them “for emergencies” and soon find that the real emergency is the maxed-out card and the exorbitantly high interest rate.

College loan debt is faced by 70% of graduating seniors. Many don’t realize that it can affect their ability to buy a home, finance a car, can’t be forgiven in a bankruptcy, and more. Others choose careers that they love, not dreaming that their future earnings will not equate the expense of an education at a prestigious school. There are so many factors at play when choosing a college – it’s not all about education and campus life. It’s also about how that education will pay off in a career choice upon graduation.

Young women put a lot of thought into these decisions. Chinasa wants to become a professor of computer science and to work as an industry research/tech professional, but it’s not just about that. “Majoring in computer science — a space usually reserved for white and Asian males — as a black woman gave me insight to the problems that minority students face and helped me realize that I have a passion for improving and innovating the way computer science is taught to students.” Chinasa has big goals to inspire future generations of young black girls to pursue a career in technology. She used her funding from the 1,000 Dreams Fund to help pay for GRE testing fees, application fees and travel costs for onsite interviews at the schools of her dreams.

If you’d like to know more about the 1,000 Dreams Fund and how it’s educating young women to make better financial choices, please click here. If you’d like information on becoming a donor, please click here. Finances are the number one thing stopping young women from their college graduation. Just a small amount goes such a long way to help them achieve their dreams.

Christie Garton, Founder & CEO of the 1,000 Dreams Fund