The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Financial class should be required

By Jeffrey Jenkins

Looking at my DARS report recently, I found that I still had international, applied science and physical/life science exploration requirements to complete to receive my bachelor’s degree. While contemplating the purpose of the general education requirements I noticed a large gap in my knowledge. My transcript lacked a course that would instruct me in how to be literate in personal finance concepts.

Given the tumultuous economic situation we find ourselves in8212;which many believe to be partially the result of superfluous credit spending8212;the more knowledge of financial concepts an individual has, the better prepared he or she will be following graduation. The U needs to institute a financial literacy course to take the place of an existing and less beneficial requirement or add an entirely new GE requirement.

Various studies also indicate the need to ensure young adults are financially literate. A Charles Schwab survey completed in 2007 revealed that bankruptcy among 18- to 24-year-olds had increased by 96 percent in 10 years. In addition, Nellie Mae, a large student loan organization, found that the average undergraduate student in 2001 had raked up more than $2,300 in credit card debt. In addition, 21 percent of those surveyed had a balance between $3,000 and $7,000.

The U’s GE requirements are dictated by a Utah policy, R470. R470 defines GE as the “intellectual and practical knowledge and skills required of students to communicate effectively, to employ quantitative and qualitative analysis in problem solving, to interpret and evaluate information, to work successfully within diverse groups and complex organizations, to adjust to and manage change, and to act with social responsibility, intellectual honesty, and ethical judgment.”

Although R470 does require practical knowledge to be acquired by students, it shortchanges U students by leaving an important gap in “practical knowledge.” Students would be hard-pressed to sign up for additional financial courses outside of their major because of increased cost and the possibility of prolonging graduation.

Raelynn Potts, the director of business affairs in the David Eccles School of Business, said the school would support offering such a course to nonbusiness majors if it would attract enough students. At least offering a financial literacy course would be good step. However, requiring the course would be most effective.

The U does offer a lot of business-related degrees, which prepare many students to make critical personal financial decisions as well as professional ones. However, there are a larger number of students who are not awarded these degrees and who are left in the dark.

By switching just one of the science-related or quantitative-reasoning requirements to a financial literacy course, the U would better prepare its graduates with practical knowledge they will most likely use in school and beyond. If the U wants to prepare its graduates for the real world with functional knowledge, a financial literacy requirement is imperative.

[email protected]

Jeffrey Jenkins

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