Money management is a high school must

The majority of young adults polled said “personal finance” is the high school course that would benefit them the most.

A few close friends of mine have kids who are starting high school this month, and it’s got me thinking back to my own high school days. I was lucky to have had some truly gifted teachers, and I often find myself recalling specific details from their classes in the minutiae of my life. (I fondly remember the late Peter Polley, English teacher extraordinaire, every time I come across his daily vocabulary words, including jewels such as “cornucopia,” “lothario” and “obsequious.”)

Exceptional teachers create memorable lessons, regardless of curriculum, that resonate with students throughout their lives. Take this as my longwinded way of saying that I don’t think a course needs to be utilitarian to provide value. 

But, if you ask me which of my high school classes has been the most helpful in my day-to-day life, it’s a no-brainer. It’s got to be typing (now referred to as keyboarding, I think). I can’t even imagine how I would function at work if I didn’t know how to touch-type on a keyboard.

Now that we understand the question (and appreciate that high school ought to be a place where students expand their minds as well as their skillsets), consider that in a survey of 1,101 U.S. adults aged 18 to 24, more than half (51.4 per cent) said money management is the high school course that would have benefited their lives the most. Other responses included math (17.9 per cent), science (16.5 per cent) and social studies (14.2 per cent).

It’s a telling statistic. These are young adults, only a few years out of high school themselves, saying that if they could go back in time and choose one course to benefit their future selves, it would be personal finance.

So, if you have kids in middle or high school, talk to them about the survey results. Ask them to find out if their school offers any kind of money management class and, if so, to consider enrolling. If the school doesn’t have personal finance in its curriculum, find out why not, and what parents and students can do to get one included in the future.

You could also look into alternatives, such as CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy program, which provides materials and training to Chartered Professional Accountants (CPAs) who present free seminars on personal finance at schools, libraries and other community hubs.

Keep the conversation going

What high school course would have benefited your life the most?  Post a comment below.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of CPA Canada.

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.