High school students learn about adult life

Posted on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittian mans a station during the “On My Own” Experiment at East High School with student Dana Bible.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittian mans a station during the “On My Own” Experiment at East High School with student Dana Bible.

Students at Morristown-Hamblen High School East and West had the opportunity to learn what adults already know; being an adult is not as fun as they might think.

Family and consumer science students (formally home economics) at both schools recently participated in a program called “On my Own.”

Teachers Cathy McClellan and Carrie Ashford, along with Nancy Marshall from the University of Tennessee Extension office in Morristown, organized the program.

On the day of the “On my Own” activity, students went into an entirely different classroom than usual. Tables were set up as booths, each one selling something different.

Through the program, each student selected his or her career and was randomly assigned a card telling him or her if they were married or single and the number of children, if any. The cards also told the student their salary and eligible tax deductions.

The program makes the assumption that students are 25-years-old and have the basic training required for that job.

Volunteers were secured from the community from different professional arenas to man booths and help those students learn how to budget money and live on their earnings.

Students were to go to each booth, make decisions and hopefully not run out of money before visiting all nine centers. They had the option to rent or purchase a house (with 100 percent financing), buy insurance, a car, groceries and clothes, obtain childcare and pay utility bills. They also had the option to choose to go shopping at the mall, take a vacation, go to the movies or play a game. There was also a game of chance, where students would occasionally win money, but more often lost more than they could afford to lose.

As students purchased their items, they had to write checks and keep track of what they spent. Some students learned how to write checks correctly and some learned that by not keeping their checkbooks current, they could end up far in the hole.

A high-pressure car salesman talked several into buying more expensive cars than they could afford, some lost their shirts in the game of chance, and some managed to be thrifty and came out of the game ahead.

All in all, the students thought it was a good learning experience. Some of the students realized that they might need to change their careers to one that paid more money.

“It taught us what being in the ‘real world’ is really like and that you have to be responsible with your money,” one student said.

“I really liked the activity. I did not realize the expense of daycare and what grocery expenses was each month,” another student said.

To continue the program the UT Extension needs to update the boards that are used in the conduction the financial simulation each year. If any business or individuals are interested in donating funds to assist to contact Nancy Marshall or Mannie Bedwell at UT Extension at 423-586-6111.

-From Staff Reports

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