Over the course of their internships, STC interns spent time considering career readiness— what it means for young people today, how it’s packaged, and why it’s important to have youth-centered conversations on work, pathways, school, and more. Here, STC intern Yves takes us through his opinion on the importance of finance classes in high school.

When we talk about finance classes in high school, the typical topics always come up: Savings accounts, sales tax, the basics of the basics. Even though these topics are knowledge that should be known by every adult, they are not required to be taught in courses at most high schools. Some high schools offer courses that brush over these topics as electives, but they are often not held up as a priority. Some research estimates only 14 states require personal finance education for high schoolers–but other sources say it is closer to 8 states, a very small percentage of the entire US population. 

This sets our new generations of kids up for failure. With the advancement in our economy when it comes to prices of homes, daily essentials, and basically the cost of our entire lives spiking, good financial habits should absolutely be a requirement and a prerequisite before graduation. Some researchers have found that too few students, especially students from low-income backgrounds, get no personal financial education in high school, but “are expected to make big financial decisions about student loans and budgeting for living expenses after graduation,” according to CNBC. 

A basic understanding should be required for each student, but more advanced classes can dive into deeper topics such as investing in the stock market, limiting debt, building wealth with properties, and proper budgeting. Some writing from experts talks about how important it is to talk to young people on topics related to finance that interest them, like investing.

For high schoolers that are entering adulthood looking to join the workforce, begin college, and be a part of society, skills such as negotiating, advocating for oneself, and handling big expenses such as maintaining a vehicle or college tuition are very pertinent. (A survey of college students found that 35% of students surveyed were worried about needing to drop out of college if a financial setback, like a car repair bill, happened.) Throwing teenagers into the world without knowledge on how to tackle these financial decisions sets them up for failure in the biggest transition period of their life. 

These finance classes would be more beneficial than many other classes offered at any high school–because they wouldn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the topic. Students are impacted by finances and money. The classes should cover real-life topics and provide students with hands-on experience when it comes to the finance world. There are a couple ways that could be done: Students working with budgeting, setting up their own budgets and learning how to manage them, or using games to teach students about stocks, investing, and the risks and the rewards. These specific skills are very useful, and would support current and future generations of students stepping into the world of adulthood.