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APU Brings Real-world Finance Simulation to Local High School Students

by University Relations

APU partnered with the Azusa Unified School District and the Southern California Edison Federal Credit Union Foundation last October to teach 60 local highschoolers valuable money management skills. The event, called Mad City Money, drew students from Azusa and Gladstone high schools who belong to Think Together, one of California’s largest providers of after-school tutoring, as well as APU undergraduate students in the Personal Finance course.

The high school students received random fictional life stories that included jobs, incomes, and expenses. Taking on the responsibilities of adults, students managed their finances while visiting booths set up to represent a mall, childcare center, grocery store, and home goods store where the students “purchased” items. They could also visit a mock credit union for financial advice.

APU students taught by Adele Harrison, Ph.D., manned the booths as merchants trying to convince the highschoolers to buy their products. “This service-learning opportunity enabled my students to guide highschoolers by sharing their knowledge on budgeting,” said Harrison. “It is a great service to help high school students see now, before real money and people are involved, how their personal decisions impact their lives financially and relationally. Also, my students observed the decisions the high school students made and related them to the budgeting projects and discussions in their Personal Finance class.”

“I learned that there are a lot of things you have to use your money for, not just the fun ones,” said Mackenzie Esslin, an Azusa High School student who was given the fictional income of a personal trainer, with credit card debt, student loans, and a child. “Sometimes you have to buy the cheaper things, even if you want the more expensive items, because you need the extra money to pay bills. It gives me a greater appreciation for what my parents do.”

Harrison looks forward to the next Mad City Money event at the end of March. “Events like Mad City Money show that APU teaches students information that is vital to successfully navigate the financial challenges ahead of them and becoming better contributors to society,” said Harrison. “We have a moral responsibility to help people acquire the knowledge, skills, and discipline to effectively manage the monetary gifts God gives.”

Originally published in the Spring '13 issue of APU Life. Download the full issue (PDF).