Class provides instruction in financial management

Coach K: It’s not about how much money you make


Gracie Carr

Ms. Jean Kesterson instructs a personal finance class that teaches students real-world money skills.

Jackson Hern, Reporter

With the school year well underway, as the Senior Class begins to finalize its college applications in preparation for next year, the unavoidable transition from childhood into adulthood draws much closer. With this transition comes one important aspect that is often under appreciated by high schoolers in general, not just seniors: understanding personal finance.

One of the courses offered here is entirely devoted to ensuring that students are adequately prepared for the monetary responsibilities that exist in the real world. This class, personal financial responsibility, is taught by Mrs. Jean Kesterson, known as “Coach K” by the school family.

She is a firm believer in financial education for teenagers, because “so many kids get out of college and still don’t know how to handle their money,” she said. Personal finance is a required course that schools must offer in many states, but as of  now it is not mandated in Indiana, so there are some high schools that do not offer it. “It will hopefully be required in the future,” said Kesterson.

The personal finance class, which is one semester, covers the basics of savings, checking, banking, paying for college and evaluating job offers, among other skills.

Kesterson stresses the fact that unfortunately finances are something that most teenagers do not think about until it is too late. “You have to know these things, and if you don’t it is going to cost you a lot of money,” said Kesterson.

With the prices of college tuition being raised every year, it is imperative that high schoolers think in advance about how they will pay for their higher education. “Nowadays the average college debt, according to a study I saw last year, is around $42,000, which is incredibly high,” Kesterson said. 

In order to help students prepare for the circumstances they will face after high school, Kesterson teaches her students with projects that are applicable, such as creating personal budgets. “We spend a lot of time on credit as well, because most kids do not understand credit,” she said. “They have no idea that a low credit score will cost you down the road for things like car insurance.”

In order to help their children begin to understand the seriousness of personal finance, Kesterson encourages parents to be active in teaching their sons and daughters about handling money. “I encourage parents to teach their kids to earn money for the things they want,” she said. “When I was growing up my parents taught me all these things, such as how to save my earnings or write a check, which of course was extremely useful.”

Whether or not students take this class, it appears evident that high schoolers should try and take advantage of any opportunity to prepare themselves for the future. “It is not about how much money you make, but what you do with your money,” said Kesterson.