Students get a glimpse of Reality
RCHS students got a little taste of how life could be for them in the future. The students took part in an activity called RealityU.
Rawlins County students were invited to participate in this activity with the Decatur Community High School students. Several schools across the state use the program, which is based out of Wichita, to teach personal finance in a fun, engaging way.
RealityU is a 75-minute activity where students simulate one month of their possible lives at the age of 26. Reality U determines what a student’s life might be like based on the answers from a short survey all students took.
The survey questions were about their occupation, marital status, use of credit card, and grade point average. Based on the students’ answers, RealityU software created a scenario for each student.
The scenario told the students their job, if they were married who they were married to, if they have children, how many children, their children’s age(s), student loans, credit score, how much they earn a month, if they pay or receive child support, and their annual salary and taxes. Using this information, the students then had to visit 12 different tables to buy things, like a car, house, groceries and clothes, and pay bills like utilities, internet/phone bill, health insurance and child care.
One station was for the students who did not have enough money to make ends meet. There they could get some advice or maybe pick up another job. At the other booths, the students would make decision and pay their bills. The students had to keep track of their expenditures. The goals were to visit all the booths and to pay all the bills and stay within their budget.
If the students were married, then they would combine their incomes and go to the booths together and make decisions.
The students were divided into two sessions with Oberlin freshmen and sophomore students in the first session, and Rawlins County sophomores and juniors (43 participants) in the next session. It took 26 volunteers, which included teachers and staff members, business people, and retired teachers, to man the booths for each session.
One booth was banking, where students could open a savings account; get a loan if they bought a house or a car, and pay student loans. At the child care booth, “parents” had to figure out a child care plan. Most students were surprised at the cost of childcare. RealityU also brought baby simulators that cried. “Parents” had to walk around with the babies.
At the housing booth, students bought or rented a home or apartment – based on their income. Once they had their house or apartment, they could go to the utilities booth to pay for their gas, electric, water and trash removal,
At the transportation booth, students could buy a vehicle, anything from expensive vehicles to economical vehicles, or purchase a bus pass. Some students who bought an expensive vehicle had to return to the table to trade it in for something that fit their budget.
Students also had to purchase health and car insurance. Their driving record was determined by a roll of dice. At the supermarket booth, students bought groceries, and at the shopping center, they bought clothes for themselves and their children.
At the entertainment table, students determined how much money they could spend on entertainment, which included the cost of a babysitter if they had children, and at the communications table, they bought plans for cell phone, cable, and internet.
One of the last booths the students visited was “chance.” Here they rolled dice to determine the outcome. Each number rolled had a corresponding outcome, such as a broken arm, speeding ticket, or a tax refund.
After the time was up, the students gathered in the gym to talk with Dr. Sehl. They discussed what they learned and what they could do now to ensure a more successful future.
Dr. Sehl’s goals are to teach teens that their performance in school today can affect their future and to provide them with the opportunity to learn and practice personal finance skills.