Students should learn to manage their finances

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Let’s accept it: UT provides us a protective bubble. But as soon as we graduate, we are on our own. Students will have to find a job and an apartment, buy a car, pay back their loans, fill out their income tax forms, start investing and plan our retirement. The school will not watch out for us when we get arrested — or need help filing out our income tax returns.

At UT, we learn math, science, literature, writing and even about Texas laws as part of our core curriculum. But no class teaches us how to do our own taxes, how to start paying off our loans or how to plan our retirement. For this knowledge that everybody should have, one must get accepted at the McCombs School of Business. Even then, as Zach Schultz, a supply chain management senior, described, only the finance and accounting majors get that education.

“Most of the finance that we are learning is more related to corporations,” Schultz said. “It’s not personal literacy that we are learning. (That’s) maybe covered in one class period.”

Knowledge of personal money management should not be restricted to only a few students. UT should offer a class that prepares students for real world monetary management after graduation. Otherwise, students who don’t have this knowledge can find themselves struggling with paying off their loans, handling their credit card or getting swamped by other mundane tasks.

These skills are expected to be learned through trial and error, but that could cost graduates a lot of sleep when they have to pay $10,000 to a huge $80,000 in loans. Seventy percent of U.S. college students already worry about money issues. Why learn the hard way?

Nicole Gonzalez, an administrative associate for the Department of Information, Risk and Operations Management believes the that “the school might have opportunities for (students) to seek out that information (and UT) offers that as part of (their) tuition.” But even though there is a lot of help available at UT, both for international students and students with jobs on-campus, none of those sources teach students the entire skill set they need throughout their lives.

Due to this lack of knowledge, students naturally look into other, potentially untrustworthy sources. Many students might put their trust in banks, but that could be an unsafe move as banks’ main purpose is to make profit off of their customers even when it’s unethical, such as Wells Fargo’s actions last year when the bank opened bank accounts to meet sales demands without the permission of the customer.

Even money management online courses aren’t very helpful since there is no interaction between students and a teacher — which is very important in money issues because they are related to changing laws and rules. In general, online courses have a higher dropout rate than classroom courses. This is why UT needs to offer a class focusing on personal finance and student loans — and maybe even make it mandatory.

There is a reason people go to college: to prepare for the rest of their lives. UT is a leading institution in preparing students for a professional career, it should also be a leader in preparing them for life.

Ratnika Batra is computer science and rhetoric and writing junior from New Delhi.