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Middle-schoolers don’t always know what a credit score is, how to write a check or balance a checkbook. Undergraduate and graduate students from the Harbert College’s School of Accountancy helped J.F. Drake Middle School students build an understanding of these concepts and more.
Harbert College’s fifth annual Financial Literacy Fair on Thursday, March 24, gave sixth-grade students at the Auburn-based school the opportunity to learn about money matters through a variety of interactive games and activities.
“It’s exciting for me to see the kids learning something,” said Keri Morton, a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) student from Dalton, Ga. “When I was that age, I had no clue what a credit score was or what a W-2 was or that taxes came out of your paycheck. It’s nice to see them learning this and be able to apply it to their future.”
Accounting professor and Harbert College diversity officer Sarah Stanwick, who organized the event in coordination with faculty at Drake Middle School, said it’s vital that sixth-graders “understand financial matters for the future and learn the concepts.”
Stanwick said the team developed new ideas to share with students.
“This year, they have developed needs and wants and we are trying to help them determine the differences between those,” she said. “We’re doing a money relay where they can learn to count money more efficiently. We also have goal-setting. One group has come up with an idea to teach them about different positions in a company. They’re doing a game where they decide whether they want to be CEO or middle manager or general labor and are rewarded based on that.”
MAcc students Kendall Schilling and Olivia Arnold teamed with Morton at an exhibit to help students better understand credit.
“I think we realize the importance of how credit cards work,” Schilling said. “But these are middle-schoolers and they don’t know a lot of financial information and we realize how important it is to teach them at a young age how all of that works.”
Arnold, from McDonough, Ga., added, “At our booth, we’re teaching them about credit scores, how with the credit card you are borrowing money and then having to pay somebody back. There are multiple booths that talk about career information, and how to count money or what’s getting deducted out of your paycheck. When I was in middle school, we didn’t have something like this. When I got my first paycheck, I didn’t know how much taxes were taken out.”
Stanwick explained the value accounting students get in service activities.
“Our students are preparing for their futures because in their firms they are going to have to interact with the community,” she said. “This gives them some ideas that they can institute programs like this in their companies. I’ve had students from the past four years contact me wanting to use the games that we’ve done and use the same concepts that we are doing in this program for when they go out to work with the children at schools.”