The 1787 room filled with Castleton students playing the “Game of Life” that flashed each of them back to little kids playing the classic board game.
But this game came with bigger responsibilities.
The second annual, “Game of Life” event at Castleton University taught 115 students how to participate in the next chapter after graduation. Career Services and the Academic Support Center teamed up with Heritage Family Credit Union to show them the importance of managing finances.
“We just really want students to realize the importance of financial planning and literacy, and just know what to expect,” said Renée Beaupre-White, director of Career Services.
Carrie Allen, from Heritage Family Credit Union, said she wants to make this game as real life as possible.
“It’s really, really, really important because ultimately people need to be their own financial advocate in order to be successful,” Allen said.
She said she has seen many times where people are in the credit union trying to fix mistakes they didn’t even know they were making at the time.
“It’s so much better for everyone involved if we can get ahead of that and teach them and help them learn, help them understand there are no taboos or bad questions. We want people to know we’re a resource,” Allen said.
Katie Haseltine, financial literacy assistant and event planner, was this year’s student ambassador and had a huge role in developing and planning since January.
“Overall, we were on track with just about every aspect early on and that helped us to adjust to last-minute tasks that came up. I was really pleased with the end result and honestly proud of myself for being able to pull it off while keeping my academics up,” Haseltine said.
Kelley Beckwith, director of the Academic Support Center, was happy to see the students becoming engaged.
“We want people to think what their financials will be like after college,” Beckwith said.
Groups of people gathered to wait their turn for the three rounds of play. They got the instructions for the game and the rest was up to them. The first mission in the game was to choose a major similar to their own, find out the annual salary for a job in their field and discover their credit score.
Next students had to visit required tables representing costs like housing, transportation, clothing, food, furniture and nightlife. Some of the optional tables were for costs associated with pets, fitness memberships and part-time jobs.
Another requirement in the game was the wheel of reality. It could hurt you in the game or it could help you. There were unforeseen car repairs on the wheel that would reduce their spending allowance, but some were lucky enough to get promotions of $200.
“They’re stressed. They don’t realize how expensive everything is,” said volunteer Eric Decker.
There were plenty of mixed emotions from students. Some were excited at their good fortune and some were on the verge of a breakdown.
At the beginning of her play, senior Emma Faucher said that playing the game was really stressful.
“I don’t want to be an adult,” Faucher said, only half kidding.
“It makes me scared for the real world,” junior Dylan Callan said with a chuckle.
When asked how the game was going, junior Jaime Nolan said “Well I’m winning…” She hadn’t lost her mind yet.
Once Faucher was near the end of the game and had time to process and breathe she said, “I think it’s really cool now versus when I hit the real world because I’m about to graduate, so I’m sort of thinking about this stuff. But seeing the numbers really puts it into perspective.”
Most students did well with budgeting their money in the game said financial advisor Teresa McCormack.
“Well the first three I met with thought they could ride the bus everyone without paying for their own car payment. They were all surprised how quickly they spent it,” said McCormack.
Freshman Sam Lewis ended with $133 in his pocket at the end of the month.
“I did the required stuff mostly, so I don’t have a pet which makes me sad, but I did pretty well,” Lewis said.
The students that financial advisor Kathy O’Meara met with ended up having money in their pocket left over.
“It was nice to have a conversation with them about what to do with that,” said O’Meara.
Junior Ally Brandland was very pleased with her results. She ended the game with having $1200 left at the end of the month. “It was nice to be able to ask questions and for them to give us advice,” said Brandland.
Beaupre-White and Allen were both very pleased and excited about the turn out of the event. Both also hope to continue the event for many years into the future to let students get a taste of financial responsibility.