“You are 25, single, and just starting your career. This is your income based on your career choice. Here is the way it is. You can have no roommates or sharing of expenses. You are on your own,” said John Tynan, who along with Greg Reynolds teach Career Work Ethics at SHS.
For some time, students have been anticipating the workshop sponsored by the University of Illinois, designed to let them take a peek into the reality of paying their own way. Prior to the workshop, students were allowed to pick their career, with come caveats.
“The U of I contacted us about bringing the program to our school. They had a list of careers for students to choose from. They couldn’t just pick one that paid the most money. It had to be a career they were actually interested in,” added Tynan.
The Welcome to the Real World simulation consisted of 10 workstations with handouts and expert advice on banking, transportation, housing. miscellaneous expenses, entertainment, groceries, insurance and clothing.
Armed with their profession and projected salary, 94 students headed into the gym to find out how they might fare on their own. Soon they were picking out cars and insurance, renting or buying homes, budgeting for clothing and entertainment. As the students wrote checks, they quickly watched their earnings slip away. They also learned about the unexpected ‘hits’ that life can give.
Greg Reynolds was handing out ‘chance cards’, much like the game of Monopoly. Most of the cards represented unexpected expenses, just like in real life. “Here’s a broken arm – pay doctor bill; pay kid $25 to mow yard, flat tire, etc.” But occasionally there was a bonus. “Here is one that’s a plus— babysit neighbors’ dog for the weekend, collect $50,” smiled Reynolds.
Mary Beth Massey of the Shelby County U of I Extension Service and Mark Grabb of Grabb Motors, we advising on car purchases and insurance. “These are real world payments, and you haven’t figured your house payments yet. These are some of the basics of budgeting and keeping a check book, “said Massey.