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COLUMBUS, OHIO – May 1, hundreds of local high school students got a glimpse into the reality of financial responsibility that awaits them after graduation. More than 500 students participated in Get Real, a financial literacy program hosted by Huntington and The CW Columbus, to help them understand what it will be like to manage their money in the real world.
In a recent study of high school students, conducted by the Economic Center at the University of Cincinnati, participants scored an average of only 54.5 percent on tests of overall economic and financial understanding. According to a 2011 survey from the Council for Economic Education, only 12 states require personal finance or economic courses to graduate high school. While Ohio is not a state with this requirement, the partnership between Huntington and Columbus City Schools ensures that students have the opportunity to gain this kind of knowledge.
"I think this is a real eye-opener for students," said Jim Kunk the Regional President of Huntington Bank. "It shows them how fast money can disappear."
Sponsors who participate in the program hosted booths where students learned about and paid for certain necessities. For example, when students visited the auto insurance booth sponsored by Huntington Insurance, they learned about insurance premiums for their cars and wrote a "check" to cover their monthly costs.
Learning to balance a checkbook, manage a monthly salary and manage a mock Huntington Bank checking account are all part of the Get Real experience. Students who participated, randomly selected an identity that assigned them to a job and a family status, such as children or no children. Students used their accounts to "pay" for housing, childcare, taxes, education, transportation, utilities, groceries and other expenses. Many found themselves working a second job to "pay" monthly expenses. One of the volunteers said, “Get Real is such a great program for students getting ready to graduate. It’s an eye opening experience understanding how costly things like insurance, car payments and entertainment can be.”
Michael Childs, Vice President and Community Development Manager of Huntington Bank says, "By educating students it helps them avoid the common pitfalls that they may have when they’re making financial decisions. So, it’s a great program and it helps them learn and understand what’s really important.” He added, “It’s so important to have students experience writing checks and balancing in a ledger so they can see how to manage their expenses.”
This was the 15th Get Real event organized by The CW Columbus in the past eleven years.