Castleton State College graduates leave college armed with degrees in business, education, communication and dozens of others.
What they still lack, according to some school officials, is knowledge to deal with their debt and financial life after college.
“In my short time here, (I’ve noticed) students are not nearly as prepared for life after graduation as they should be,” Director of Career Services Renee Beaupre-White said.
Beaupre White’s sentiments are based on feedback from former students who have admitted to not realizing what student debt and living expenses would be before they were forced to make the payments.
Although there seems to be a deficiency in financial literacy understanding among students leaving Castleton, there are ample ways to fill in in the cracks, she said.
Beaupre-White and Career Services have organized several events to improve this lacking aspect of education. One of these events, “The Game of Life,” will be held March 25 in the 1787 Room from 5:30-8 p.m. and is designed to provide students with a series of choices they’ll be forced to make in life following college.
Peg Richards, business department chair, says she thinks graduates are not well poised to enter the professional world.
Kenny Bourneuf, a former Castleton graduate, supports Richards’s thoughts saying he never really considered the “next step” after graduating.
“Once the student loans, rent and insurance bills started rolling in, I knew I didn’t understand much when it came to financial literacy or budgeting,” he said.
Richards offered a financial literacy course this past summer, but had to cancel it due to under-enrollment. She says she’d like to see “a required financial literacy course implemented as another graduation standard, teaching students about student loan debt, budgeting and identity theft.”
Graduation standards are in place to make sure that Castleton students ultimately leave with a minimum baseline knowledge that, in addition to the course knowledge attained, can lay the foundation for a successful adult life. Since financial literacy appears to be a lacking brick in that foundation, adding this new requirement may prove priceless in the college education.
Former student Jeremy Cohen and current senior Nathan Koenemann, echo Richards’s idea. While Koenemann believes that the course should be open to any class, Cohen argues that only seniors and juniors should be among those eligible to enroll.
Bourneuf said budgeting was the most difficult thing he had to learn after leaving Castleton.
“I would like to see Castleton implement a budgeting program where students use real figures, from their own personal scenarios, to see the bigger picture. Students need to understand how a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly budget can help prevent future financial debt and turmoil,” he said.
Beaupre-White wants to stress to students how important their whole adult career is, which includes their time at college.
“My hope for all students is that they leave here with good skills and resume. School is a job, and the more that students focus on that the better off they’ll be,” she said.
Her goal is to have every student be required to have work-related or internship experience before graduation, conveying how important experience is in the job application process.
Without certain financial literacy information being distributed among the student body, students must pick up this knowledge elsewhere. According to Spencer Dandurand, a December graduate, that information will likely come from his parents.
“My parents have been teaching me the full perspective of how many bills you have to pay in order to live comfortably and what to expect as I start total independence,” he said.
Other past grads, like former communication major, Nick Lingardo, have found other ways to prepare themselves for the responsibilities of life after college. Lingardo says he learned a lot about how to save money by working at Admissions at Castleton starting his sophomore year. Many of Lingardo’s coworkers were recent graduates who gave him insight into budgeting when you start out.
Dominic Heller, a senior at Castleton, looks toward his proverbial finish line of education in May with confidence.
“I have a pretty good grasp on economic life after college,” says Heller.
The business major from New York elaborated by saying living off campus has allowed him to start budgeting and paying bills earlier than most, and speaking with friends who are a year or two out of school about their experiences allows him to have realistic expectations.
“I think I’m ready,” Heller said.