Upperclass Taskforce offers seminar on real world finances

“It’s the sort of thing that makes me want to curl up in a ball and never adult,” said junior Chloe Keller, echoing the financial fears of most college students.

At the Personal Finances: Wisdom and Common Cents seminar last week, students received a brief overview of student loans, insurance, investing and how to choose a benefit package when starting a job.

Learning how to manage money is “a way to love yourself, because finance is a big stressor for people,” said Bob Crow, dean of student development and head of the Upperclass Taskforce that hosted the seminar. “The average debt for a Calvin grad is just over twenty thousand dollars, so you’re sort of starting into life with this deficit. … Some debt might be necessary,” he said, “but if you’re not wise you can get yourself into trouble with poor decision-making.”

Even though they couldn’t learn everything about money in a one-hour seminar, students were grateful for the info, said business professor Dirk Pruis, who taught the seminar.

Keller explained that she learned, along with basic financial-smarts, to “go to someone who knows what they’re doing when you get your first big job or go to someone who knows what they’re doing when you want to invest money or buy something big.”

The Taskforce put on a similar event last spring which attracted many curious students. Students can also take a personal finance class over Interim, but according to Pruis and Crow 30 students are petitioning it because of its high demand.

“It would be a good thing to require students to take,” said Pruis. “We teach them how to be well, we feed their spiritual lives, but do we do enough to equip them to take care of their financial side?”

But, he said, there are other ways to learn personal finance. “You can just do simple things like subscribe to a personal finance magazine, Real Money magazine or Kiplinger’s. … There are some well-written books on the topic and then there are community courses. You can do the one-day things; Dave Ramsey is out there on the radio.”

A finances class, said Keller, “would be a good thing to take Interim senior year or as a preparing for graduation sort-of-thing like the last semester of college.”

“It’s one of those basic skill sets,” said Pruis, “that we ought to try to provide or at least make more accessible if we didn’t require it.”

The Upperclass Taskforce hopes to make finances and other upperclass student concerns easier to learn about. “We try to help primarily seniors and then juniors, and we’re thinking, what do they need to know as they leave Calvin?” explained Crow. “We’re trying to listen to what students are saying.”