A Consumer Science course should be required in a public High School curriculum

I wrote this essay for a composition course during my second semester of my first year of college. In this persuasive memoir, I point out some of the valuable points of why to make a consumer science course a requirement in a public high school. In today's world, the skills needed to succeed in personal financial success are becoming more and more prevalent. Issues pertaining to credit, savings, investing, and spending habits are a must for any high school graduate.

Persuasive Memoir
by Matthew Pitaro
April 23, 2006

A consumer science course should be a requirement for high school graduation. Many students decide not to continue their education after high school because they may be obligated to go to work fulltime. These individuals, who are fully capable of their work, may not be prepared for the conflicts and issues that arise from living alone or away from home. Primarily, my proposed consumer science course would go into great detail on how to save money, how to budget your money, and credit responsibility.

Saving money, or having a rainy day fund, is an important aspect of living independent in our society. Many of those who only have a high school education may have to live paycheck to paycheck. Living this way is a gamble. If an emergency arose and you needed money fast, you wouldn’t have any to access. Someone’s personal savings may not be for just rainy days though, it may be set aside for some sort of goal. Everybody wants nice things. Maybe you need a new car, a nicer apartment, or cable. Though saving money is good, it also good to live happily for the time that you are on this earth. How can you do both though? You can through budgeting.

Every person I know has a different method to budget their money. Some of the budgets work well, and some don’t. The ones that don’t work are ones designed by people who get greedy. For example, if a person wants to save a lot of money for the short run, they would give themselves less allowances for movies, dinning out, and entertainment. But realistically, this person would be is making an unreasonable sacrifice into things outside of work that would pass the time. After all, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.” The consumer science course would tech you to be reasonable in your budgeting and leave a little bit for several venial aspects that keep your life interesting. Living life is good and healthy, surviving life is not.

What happens if your car breaks down and you need to get a tow, or worse, rent a car? In this case, and in many similar cases, you will need a credit card. In other ways too, it is good to have a credit card. Everyone will need good credit to get loans to buy cars, or someday, a house. Many students who turn 18 years old receive applications for credit cards. For the most part, they know that credit cards have high interest rates and that you could very easily get into debt with them. But even with this common knowledge, students continue to get themselves deep in the hole. My proposed Consumer Science class would teach students responsibility with credit cards. But for this aspect is not enough to simply tell the students what they do and how they are dangerous, you have to physically show them. For this part of the unit, I propose a project in which students decide what purchases to make with a credit card.

To do this project, every student would be issued a paper credit card with a set limit, and phony check book with a consistent weekly paycheck. Day by day in the class, the teacher would tell the students to with draw money from checking for rent, cars, utilities, groceries, etc… Then the teacher would give the students emergencies which would require credit card purchases. In the end, the teacher would at a 20%, or higher based on the current real life rates, interest rate to the balances. When each student observes the money being lost with each purchase, it can show the reality of credit use.

A required consumer science course would be vital to any high school curriculum. Some high schools have a similar course as an elective, but making this course a requirement is imperative. Every person in our society will encounter consumer economics in his/her life time. This course would prepare students, even maybe in a small way, for the real world. Otherwise, the high school graduates would walk into the world and get themselves stuck, and no one may be around to pull them out.