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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Financial education must be more prevalent in primary and secondary curriculums

The conversation involving money and finances is not one that is always taught as younger students. Truly, money talk does not always even happen as an adult. In order to learn about finances, one must have a conversation with someone that involves personal finances. Many countries, including the United States, can be uncomfortable when talking about finances. Personal income is something that is not frequently discussed. When asking someone about their salary the conversations can become distant and awkward. In some places, discussing money isn’t bizarre, but just facts of life. Money conversations concerning personal salaries are open topics to be discussed. In order to make money conversations more frequent and open, it is crucial to start putting some type of financial education in place for students before they become adults.

Until adulthood, the only financial education a student may get is from their parents and family. For those children that come from an economically or culturally disadvantaged background, they are already behind on understanding money. Their home life does not have the resources necessary to educate them on how to get out of poverty. Many first generation college students come from poverty-stricken areas and homes. The only way they made their way into a college or university was by having a passion for learning and their education. Sometimes the parents of economically disadvantaged students play little to no role in the academic part of their child’s life. This can have negative effects on students who are struggling in school. For the children that are able to easily participate in school and pick up quickly on topics, they advance with ease each year. However, for those unable to succeed on certain topics, they are left behind from the start. That is why having a discussion about finances is important. The only true way to get out of poverty is with education and financial understanding. 

The money conversations should also include women. Women have continuously been seen as less than to their male counterparts when it comes to finances and the wage gap. Females still make less than males and are in what seems like a never ending battle for socioeconomic equality. By teaching young females about finances, they should be able to understand how to control their own. The historic and extremely dated narrative that a female must be taken care of by a male is unnecessarily inaccurate. All humans should be treated equally, especially when it comes to their financial well-being. Some financial programs are put in place to educate people about their resources. 

Financial education should be put in order to act as a precautionary measure instead of a repercussion to money activities. Often consumers don’t think much of financial education until their finances are out of control and they are concerned how they will survive with little to no money. Only consumers with established credit are allowed to finance items with reasonable interest rates. So those who may have had a rough first few years of their adult life in regard to finances will almost be punished later with no ability to finance with a poor credit score. If financial education was in place while they were in school, they may have had a better understanding of money and how their personal finances work after school. 

Along with the life of a cell, primary and secondary schools should also be teaching students basic accounting, economics, and taxes. Students are forced to learn advanced calculus and trigonometry in order to foster critical thinking skills yet are not taught the practical parts of mathematics. Instead of making business make an elective, it should be put into the core curriculum of schools. Since school is in place to create an educated society, it should also teach how the economic portion of society works. Financial education should be an option early on.

If a student understands how bills work and budgeting, they may have an easier time transitioning into adult life. Many young adults make mistakes. All humans make mistakes. However, but providing ample education in all areas of life, the mistakes might not be as large. For example, explaining to a student how compound interest formulas work may help when they first decide to avail of a car or a motorbike loan in the future. Doing a complex geometry problem is not going to help them get pre-approved for a home loan. 

The personal finances of society may improve if conversations involving money were not so secretive and infrequent. It seems that money conversions are only to be had by people who have money. For poverty-stricken people, they are not as excited by money because it is hard for them to get it. They don’t have money to invest because they live paycheck to paycheck. More job opportunities might become available if society is open to having those financial conversations and educating students at a younger age about money.

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