The Money Management Mix Up


Max Ma, Writer

Wealth management and career exploration are essential 21st-century classes for teenagers to embrace. Thus, On June 17, 2009, the New Jersey Board of Education adopted the requirement that all students must have at least 2.5-credits in financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy. As a result, Kingsway wrote a curriculum to suit these requirements for the course Wealth Management.   Now that wealth management is a state mandate, students, staff, and parents ask:  What is the best time to offer this course?

The Current Situation:

Wealth Management is a half-year (2.5 credit) class offered to 9th-grade students. The class teaches students about personal finance through decision-making, budgeting, personal goal-setting, savings, taxes, credit, investing, and insurance. The course is designed to provide a basic understanding of how to manage money. Chief Academic Officer, Patricia Calandro, believes wealth management is ideal as a freshman course. Because wealth management is a graduation requirement, she said, “Offering the course to freshmen allows students multiple chances to pass the course. Taking the course senior year can put some students, who do not pass, in jeopardy of graduation.” Calandro also summarizes that taking the course freshman year exposes students to wealth management right off the bat. Moreover, students would be allowed more time to build their way up to higher classes throughout their high school careers.

Supervisor of Student Personnel Services, Michael Schiff, also thinks wealth management is well suited as a freshman class. Describing the benefits, Michael said, “This allows students to have space in their schedule in future years for electives that are of greater interest and/or align with their post-secondary goals. Imagine the frustration for the student who would love to take Allied Health but can’t because of Financial Literacy.” With the start of the next school year coming ever closer, wealth management seems to be holding its ground to stay as a freshman class. Sophomore and Stem student Emily Hessenauer liked having the course freshmen year as it paired well with her academy class.

Another Option:

Incoming students, existing schedules, and a tight curriculum are valid reasons for wealth management staying as a freshman class; however, there are other possibilities on when wealth management should be taken. These options include offering the course to sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Business Department Chair, Business Teacher, and  DECA Advisor, Patricia Conn, believes wealth management is more appropriate for juniors. She said, “Juniors are more likely to think about applying for a job. For juniors, the class is more impactful and meaningful.” Furthermore, she said, “A freshman isn’t worried about working [having a job] which makes them less interested and gives them less of a connection to the class.” Although the current wealth management classes are set up for freshmen, changing the course to start during junior year presents itself as a fitting option. Stem student, junior Jack Fitzpatrick said, “My freshmen year, I did not enjoy wealth management because I did not appreciate what it was meant to teach me. Now that I am older I think I would enjoy it more.”  Another student, junior Lauren Retkovis said trying to figure out what electives to take senior year is difficult as she has six slots to fill. She would have liked to have taken this course junior or senior year as opposed to freshmen year because it will be much more beneficial.

The Conclusion:

In the end, wealth management is a fundamental class for high school students. When taken freshman year, students will have more time, comfort, and options in the future. When taken junior year, students would be more interested and impacted by the information being discussed. Both freshman and junior year have their own unique benefits; hence, is the best solution to let students decide when they want to take the course?