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Home > Teen Blog > February 2019 > How Knowing Who You Are and Managing Money Can Help Students Thrive in College
How Knowing Who You Are and Managing Money Can Help Students Thrive in College
Posted: 2/18/2019 10:00:00 AM

Intrepid Teen Blog

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by Ailyah G. — GOALS Ambassador

The Intrepid Museum hosts workshops for participants of its youth educational programs to develop leadership and life skills. On December 8, 2018, students in GOALS for Girls, a program for girls interested in STEM fields, and the Youth Leadership Institute, a co-ed program focused on learning about civic engagement, met with two influential guest speakers to find out what it takes to survive in college.

Joel Lock, from CityParks, is a college graduate and is very knowledgeable when it comes to applying for college. He spoke about what is essential to complete a well-written essay. A smart approach is to write about your identity, talents, interests and what is important to you. This will impress the admissions office and show that “you aren’t just someone with a good transcript, but rather a unique individual that has something to offer.”

Insert Alt Text During the workshop, students were asked to write down things they associate with random items, such as sneakers. Most of us wrote down the names of popular brands, which showed us how much we associate specific brands or logos with an item. He connected this activity to “self-branding,” which means creating an image for yourself and essentially giving yourself a reputation. This marketing technique is applicable to when you need to describe yourself to colleges in 650 words or less. You can leave the person reading your essay with something memorable about yourself–essentially a “personal brand.”

The second speaker was Yanely Espinal from Next Gen Personal Finance. She spoke about the financial side to college and how difficult it can be to handle. She started off with her college story and how money played a big role in her experience. She was proud to be the first one to attend college in her family and she even received enough money to pay for her classes. Although it seemed as if she was all set by escaping the horrors of student loan debt, her path took another turn. She said, “paying for the actual classes is just the first bump in the road.” Next you need books, school supplies and much more if you are planning to live in a campus dorm. Her debt quickly accumulated as credit card companies lured her into thinking that they were able to provide college students with a solution to all their financial struggles.

“You aren’t just someone with a good transcript, but rather a unique individual that has something to offer.”
Espinal shared her steps for tackling debt, starting with the root of the problem. She said that one of the reasons she found herself in this difficult situation was because she was never taught how to budget and manage her money properly. Now she teaches students how to avoid falling into the same vicious cycle of college debt.

The workshop ended with two games. The first was an interactive and entertaining online game called Payback. In the game, students had to make real life decisions such as what college to attend and whether we would spend free time with friends, working or studying. Next, the participants were divided into groups of “roommates” and given pretend identities, which included a salary and lifestyle needs and preferences. Each group had to then create a roommate budget complete with monthly expenses, how much each person was going to contribute and when the bills were due.

Both games revealed how fast and easy it is to lose track of money and incur debt. Payback showed the importance of balance, not only with money, but in your academic and social life as a college student. The roommate budgeting game showed that it is expensive to live on your own. If you are not properly educated about finance before entering college, it may be harder to thrive.

I am grateful for the chance to listen to these two speakers who gave me insightful information. It will be very beneficial to my future plans.