Money: Think about it

By Amber Falkner CMC ‘16Contributing Writer

Money—think about it. Moneythink at the Claremont Colleges is encouraging high school students to do just that. Taking on the roles of mentors and teachers, 5C students have reached out to local high schools to educate students on personal finances, entrepreneurship, and college in general.

Moneythink “is an organization that benefits all parties involved,” said Madeline Sheldon ’13, President of the 5C’s Moneythink chapter. “High school students receive information that is highly important and pertinent to their lives, college mentors gain teaching experience as well as membership in an extensive national organization, and overworked teachers appreciate college volunteers who take over the class once per week.” Moneythink at the Claremont Colleges currently has connections with four schools in Upland, Koreatown, Claremont, and Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

According to the organization’s website, only 15 states require high school students take a course with personal finance content, while 13 states require a personal finance course for graduation. Additionally, the number of 18 to 24-year-olds who declare bankruptcy has increased 96 percent in 10 years, while more people filed for bankruptcy than graduated from college in 2002.

“Once students enter the ‘real world,’ they are expected to know and understand our daunting financial system, but more often than not have not received any education on the subject,” said Sheldon. “Moneythink strives to change this “unfair and unacceptable” system.

Chapter Vice President Sophie Brooks Ames (’13), said the impact Moneythink mentorship has on the high school students is long-lasting. “I think the chance to learn from college students allows a more real, peer-to-peer experience and may also inspire some students to achieve a college education, who previously would not have considered it,” she said.

Being a Moneythink mentor can be as beneficial for the mentor as it is for the mentees.

“Those who are interested in teaching get an opportunity to gain in-class teaching experience with a fully prepared curriculum and lesson plans. College students also gain access to a national network of extremely impressive entrepreneurs, professionals and other college students,” said Sheldon.

Brooks Ames said Moneythink is helpful not just to students hoping to some day be teachers but any and all students wanting to gain financial literacy. “Although I knew certain finance basics, Moneythink definitely increased my financial independence as I learned the ins and outs of different bank accounts, the stock market and financial planning,” she said.

“I think in recruiting, a lot of people get deterred by the name and emphasis of our curriculum... but the lessons are created to be taught by finance ‘newbs,’ like me; all the information is very clear and much of it is more theoretical and discussion-based anyway. Students are not crunching numbers in the classroom,” she added.

In spite of those setbacks, Moneythink has been successful in its endeavors and has recently added several new members to its team.

In its first year at the 5Cs in the fall of 2010, Sheldon estimated Moneythink only had between three and seven members, and has since grown to 16 members. “We are always looking to expand our Moneythink family,” said Sheldon.

For more information, contact claremont@moneythink.org.