Being employed by a credit union has presented me with some varying opportunities. One duty that has been somewhat spontaneous but also well appreciated is representing my company in a number of “fairs” around the community. One fair that I found somewhat beneficial, and very interesting, has been the CU4 Reality Fair. This fair is put on by a group of people made up of some credit unions faculty as well as a handful from the Credit Union Museum.

Students are expected to balance their living expenses with the salary that they make.

The purpose of the fair is to teach children some of the necessary budgeting skills for living. Each child gets to decide on the occupation that they want to strive for, and this then leads to a salary. The school then takes the salary of each individual child and subtracts the amount of taxes that comes out of the salary. The child then have to visit a number of stations or tables, decide on the living expenses, and basically balance their budget.

This program and tool is exceptional. I believe that every child should be comfortable with finances so that when it comes to them having to live on their own they will be able to live within their means. This is a large problem with today’s early college graduates.

After one “Block” of having these students go around and budget their future, we had a women come over to everyone and tell us that if we saw anyone with a salary over $60,000 we needed to send them to the “Credit Counselor’s” table to cut their salary in half. The reason for this was that these students were “pretending” to be 25 years old, and so if they were doctors or veterinarians, they would still be in college and anyone else without an education WON’T be making over $60,000.

The public school system presents students with rigid and frustrating tasks, limiting those that are capable of thinking outside of the box.

This brings me to the big problem that stuck out for me on public schools. I understand their argument, but here is mine. The majority of people will not be making over $60,000 annual salary by the age of 25 because the majority of occupations require at least 8 years of education (4 years of undergraduate, and 4 years of graduate).  But the thing is, that’s only the majority of people. If we teach students and children that you are only going to be able to achieve what the majority of people are achieving today, we are also teaching them to not think outside of the box and to conform to the beliefs of society’s systems. I remember feeling frustrated and even stuck with teacher’s rules when I was in high school.

 I feel that by restricting the students to a salary, they limiting the students’ potential greatly. When you only expect so much from a person, that person will only perform to your expectations. I wish who ever thought about this assigned an assignment that said, “what are you going to be doing at age 25? How far are you going to be in your education? How much are your school loans going to be?”.

That way, when they received that piece of paper with the amount they are making, they would be able to argue; “I will be making $135,000 because I will have graduated a year early from high school and be accepted into a 6 year accelerated pharmacy program and would have graduated by the time I was 23 years of age with 2 years of employment history. Although my school debt could possibly be over $120,000 I would use a combination of scholarships and grants to fund my full education. I would also seek grants during my graduate level courses and therefore avoid a large amount of debt. I may still come out with $15,000 in debt, but it would be substantially less than what is expected.”

Create an assignment that allows them to stretch the boundaries and challenge the limitations and expectations of today’s public school system. On top of it, before the fun begins you are challenging them to problem solve and think about their future.

Freeman Hrabowski, the president of the University of Maryland, spoke at a TED convention. He spoke about the importance of setting high expectations for students of all backgrounds and to push them to strive and reach goals that they may have not known were there. has some extremely gifted and well spoken people. Randy Pausch is one that sticks out in my mind. In 2006, Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away in 2008. But in 2007, Pausch gave a speach titled “Really achieving your childhood dreams”, but more famously known as “Last Lecture”.



Pausch has some great points that I hope you take away from his lecture. But one of the most key and most influential points that I have carried from him, since I first saw this lecture back in 2008, is his ability to not only eliminate limits set by the education system of today, but also to allow students to dream and accomplish great feats that to the “average” or the “majority” of people would seem impossible.

So before you are quick to tell anyone, “That doesn’t seem realistic”, or “you should change and try it this way as this is the easier way”, STOP and think first. Is what you are about to say going to limit this person’s future? And instead, I challenge you to ask, “how?” “How are you going to make this happen?”, or “Why?”.  A large part of the science process is constantly second guessing and questioning but don’t mistake this for handicapping or creating an excuse as to why it can’t be completed in that particular manner.

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