OPINION: Personal finance classes should be a UCORE requirement

All students should learn how to budget, manage money; class could help



Having the ability to budget for yourself and manage your personal finances is an important skill for every young adult, being more applicable than many other entry level math courses.

BRUCE MULMAT, Former Evergreen opinion editor

College students must become more financially literate to succeed later in life. To help with this, WSU should allocate more funds and professors to teach basic personal finance to all incoming freshmen.

A student can take Finance 223: Personal Finance to satisfy a UCORE math requirement. Next semester, only four sections will be offered with a limit of 50 students each.

David Whidbee, Department of Finance and Management Science chair, said that before personal finance became a UCORE class, it was only be offered once a semester and had fewer than 20 students. Now every class is full.

“[Personal finance] is targeted for non-business majors,” Whidbee said. “The skills they learn there are huge for them to be successful, not just in managing their budget but being successful in life.”

Personal finance is a class that needs to be offered more, because of the benefits it can give to students. In a perfect world, this class should be a mandatory course in UCORE, but budget and personnel reasons make this impossible.

“I don’t really budget anything, because I take out loans,” freshman psychology major Daphne Hennings said.

No matter what job you have, you must understand how to budget to be happy and healthy.

“What employers are finding out now is that one of the highest levels of stress that their employees are facing is financial challenges,” Whidbee said. “Being successful in your personal finance is critical to being successful in your career.”

These introductory classes are a key part of making students financially literate. Without this literacy, WSU is allowing students to go out into the world unprepared while still touting graduates’ success.

Creating a budget is such a simple yet important part of becoming a more successful person. A mandatory personal finance class in UCORE would pave the road to success for Cougs.

Without a budget or a good idea of what to spend money on, the broke college student will go into the workforce being a broke employee. This means working from paycheck to paycheck, not being able to build up a savings account for emergencies or the lofty goal of buying a house.

The only real option is clear: make Finance 223 a mandatory class. Admittedly, this will be a tough prospect because there are quite a lot of freshmen coming in each year. Yet the benefits would be immediate and effective.

“We have a hard time offering enough seats for students, just because there is a significant demand for the class,” Whidbee said.

There are plenty of math classes offered at WSU. However, there are no other classes that could be as beneficial to every student here than a personal finance class.

Hennings said that she plans to pay off some of her loans with money that she earns over the summer, but also still wants to learn more about personal finance.

Personal finance is a critical part of everyone’s life until the day they die. The university needs to place a higher emphasis on this topic by making it a mandatory class. While this may impact the finance department in the short term, the university needs to support them with additional funding immediately.

Making this policy change to UCORE is not an easy choice, but it is the right choice if WSU wants students to be more prepared for life after college. The junior writing portfolio was instituted to make sure students could write for companies after they graduate, so making students take a personal finance class would not be a huge jump.

Take personal finance if you can. It is the most important class you can take here at WSU because it can provide you with a huge amount of information on how to be successful financially.