What I Didn't Learn in College

As someone who is halfway through her college career, there are many stressors I have when I think about entering, “the real world.” Through my education, I have taken a wide array of courses. These subjects vary from literature, to sciences, to economics, and so on. Being a student in a business college I have also taken classes in specific business concepts, such as accounting, marketing, and finance. However, even in a business school, the multitude of classes a university offers neglects to teach students even the basics about personal finance. This is not to say that what is currently being taught is unimportant. Learning the underlying business philosophies of the economy as a whole is vital, however, there needs to be an emphasis placed on educating students about financial matters they will inevitably face post graduation.

One concept almost impossible for recent college graduates to wrap their minds around is saving for retirement. People are living longer lives than ever before, meaning they need to have more money saved up for retirement. Despite this fact, alarming amounts of millennials have not started saving. 7/10 people aged 18-29 have not begun saving for retirement. One of the main factors contributing to this statistic is a general unfamiliarity with the concept. For someone’s entire life prior to graduating college, the focus has solely been on the future in a short-term perspective. While you’re in high school, your focus is on getting into college. While you’re in college, your focus shifts to gaining experiences to make you a good candidate for a job. Students live with blinders on throughout their education that do not allow them to look much more than five years into the future. This inhibits crucial long-term financial planning.

After getting a job out of college, a student’s financial world changes dramatically. While there may be loans to pay off and general living expenses that everyone incurs, this is the first time in many peoples’ lives where they have a disposable income. With this newfound freedom another issue arises: creating a personal budget. In my college experience, I was taught how to create balance sheets and income statements for large (fictional) corporations. However, creating a realistic personal budget was never a part of the curriculum. Concepts such as how much of a paycheck should be put into savings, emergency funds, and lifestyle activities were never so much as discussed. Students would benefit dramatically to have concepts such as these put into a realistic perspective before graduating college.

College is an amazing opportunity for someone to learn as much as they can. It is a unique time in one’s life when they can challenge themselves to gain knowledge in an almost infinite amount of subjects. However, these are also four years vital for a young adult to prepare themselves for their life. Seeking out opportunities to learn outside of the classroom about day-to-day financing will prove to be invaluable to preparing for a life post-grad.