Communities In Schools to host financial simulation at Callaway Middle School

Published 9:40 am Friday, February 2, 2024

Callaway Middle School students will soon get a taste of reality in their future finances with Communities in School’s Reality U program.

The program is a financial literacy program that allows students to experience what their lives are likely to be like as adults depending on their choices.

Troup County Communities in Schools Director Tabitha Lewis-Coverson said they host the Reality U program and present it to middle and high school students. The program is designed to educate students on the realities of life while preparing them for an employable future and adulthood.

The sessions are about an hour long and give 75 students a hard look into their potential future. Lewis-Coverson said they typically present the program to eighth graders in middle school and sophomores in high school. Communities in Schools will host two sessions at Callaway Middle School on Feb. 7.

Prior to the sessions, the students take a lifestyle survey and answer questions about their future goals, such as if they want to be married, have kids, go to college and what kind of job they would like. The kids are also asked about their current situation, such as if they come to school every day, do they turn in their homework on time and about their grades.

“That’s where it gets tricky,” Lewis-Coverson said. “If they have a really low GPA, say they have a 1.5 GPA and want to be an attorney, the software that we use will not let them select that job. They can only select a job that coincides with their current GPA.”

The software calculates their projected monthly salary. If they have a spouse, their incomes are combined, and they go through 13 stations where they use that income to “pay” for housing, food, transportation, insurance and all the stuff that adults have to do,  Lewis-Coverson said.

“They even have a credit score, student loans, child support payments or they receive child support,” she said, saying the program shows what their life could be like at 26 years old. “The goal is to go through those motions in life with money left in the bank.”

In the end, students are debriefed and learn that those with lower GPAs will find it difficult to get better jobs.

“They understand that if I don’t turn on my homework, if I keep those habits, I won’t pay my bills on time, and my credit score will suffer. If my GPA is low, I need to focus and start really working hard if I want this job that requires to have better grades,” Lewis-Coverson said.

Lewis-Coverson said during the simulation students learn about money about budgeting. Often they’ll make selections and have to go back and change them.

“Some choose to buy a new Tesla and then turn around and buy a 1996 Ford pickup once they realize that the insurance is just as much as their car payment,” she said.

Lewis-Coverson said the program is fun for the students, but they learn a lot too.

A big thing that kids come away with is understanding their parents. A lot of times they may ask for things, and their parents say no they can’t afford it.

One of the first things they say is how they now understand their parents and wonder how they are able to do this every month, she said.

Lewis-Coverson said they are always looking for volunteers to assist with running the simulations. To volunteer at the Feb. 7 sessions or for more information, contact Lewis-Coverson at (706) 668-7571 or tcoverson@cisgeorgia.org.