It’s 5:00 p.m. ET on a recent Monday afternoon, and several Philadelphia high school students are hanging out on Zoom to talk about money.
As participants in an introductory finance course for high school students offered by the Wharton School, they begin by sharing with their instructor what they hope to learn during the course.
Derek, a junior at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science, says, “I want to learn how to invest my money.” Friends’ Central School’s Daija adds, “I’m interested in the stock market.” Samson, a senior at Central High School, chimes in: “I want to get better at budgeting and learn how to save more.”
a local association
These teens are part of Steppingstone Scholars, an organization that connects Philadelphia’s low-income students with a series of academic enrichment activities throughout their middle and high school years.
Your final learning opportunity: participate in the development of a course that will be part of the new Wharton Pre-Baccalaureate Program Introduction to personal finance class, where students explore everything from income taxes and financial decision-making to financing their higher education. The course ends with a project that evaluates your actual student loan offers.
In January, the Wharton Global Youth Program at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, launched its Pre-Baccalaureate program, an academically intensive dual-enrollment opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to enroll in online courses. from Wharton.
The Wharton Global Youth Program contacted Steppingstone Scholars to find a group of local high school students willing to try out parts of the Pre-Bacc Personal Finance course, which was being developed with the Wharton Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance. Faculty members David Musto and Nikolai Roussanov helped design the curriculum, and five of their Finance MBA students taught the course.
Very quickly, Steppingstone and Wharton formed a collaboration, with about a dozen high school students signing up for the no-credit personal finance pilot. The class met every Monday and Wednesday during April, which was also Financial Literacy Month in the US.
“The Personal Finance course was a good fit for Steppingstone students because many expressed interest in pursuing careers in business and finance,” says Stephanie Joy Tisdale, director of Steppingstone Academy. “In addition to this, the course introduces important aspects of financial education, which are valuable to young adults as they prepare for life after high school. Students were able to access tools that they can apply to everyday life and use to help them make real-world decisions in the future.”
Dom Daniels, Dual Enrollment Coordinator for Steppingstone, hosted online support sessions for students every week while they took the course, hosted by a Temple University work-study student.
Ultimately, Wharton refined a new course with input from local students, and the Stevens Center was able to gather valuable feedback for ongoing research on how high school students assess student loan risk.
“The students who took the class explained to us how they compared their financial aid offers and also how they looked for additional support,” says Musto, whose colleagues at the Stevens Center and MBA are in the process of designing an app to help students think carefully. . borrowing decisions. “The students had made great use of the tools they were given, but there were no tools to help them negotiate the territory between not borrowing for college and borrowing as much as possible. The experience taught us the value of developing this tool alongside high school students, and we will continue the effort through the summer and fall.”
Steppingstone Scholars who completed the course gained a Wharton Global Youth Program certificate and practical skills to improve their financial decision-making. “The session where we learned about credit was the best for me,” says one Introduction to personal finance graduate. “I recently turned 18 and have been wondering how to increase my credit.”