A personal finance course at Wellesley College in Massachusetts is one of America’s 10 Hottest College Classes, proclaims The Daily Beast. An impressive feat, given that other courses on the list include a Yale lab that takes students on a trip to an Amazon rain forest and the University of Michigan’s History of College Athletics, which brings in storied Big 10 football coaches to address the class.
One former student of the personal finance course told The Daily Beast: “Students take out loans and credit cards all the time without even thinking about it. [The class] should be renamed ‘life skills’ and be mandatory.”
Taught as an economics course by Ann Witte, the class focuses on everything from insurance to taxes to investing. And that’s a very good thing, considering that high school seniors who took the Jump$tart Coalition’s financial literacy survey in 2008 scored worse than their peers did in 2006, answering only 48.3% of the survey’s questions correctly. In fact, only 48% of those surveyed knew that a credit card holder who only pays the minimum amount on monthly card balances will pay more in annual finance charges than a card holder who pays the balance in full. And just 17% correctly answered that stocks are likely to yield higher returns than savings bonds, savings accounts and checking accounts over the next 18 years.
But your kid doesn’t have to go to Wellesley to learn the basics of personal finance. PBS is airing “Your Life, Your Money” tonight, Wednesday, September 9, at 9 p.m on most PBS stations (check your local listings for details). The one-hour special for young adults is hosted by Scrubs star Donald Faison and will feature insights from special guests, such as hip hop icon Russell Simmons. The show “isn’t a dry recitation of financial factoids or an abrasive lesson of economic terrors to avoid,” says producer Tom Simon. “It presents young adults in realistic situations that most people can relate to in a serious, but upbeat, manner.” The program will address banking and credit, investing, budgeting, insurance and self-employment through the stories of six young people, including a college senior with $30,000 in credit card debt, a freelance graphic designer and a woman working at her family’s Mexican restaurant.
Faison talks about his own money mistakes in the special too. “I spent a lot of money before I made it, and that was a big mistake,” he told IGN.com “When I make a purchase now, I’m always like, ‘I know this is a little bit more than I want to spend, and am I going to regret this later?'”
For more information on the show, visit PBS.org.