Jacob Starts Financial Literacy Group

Students participating in a new financial literacy group will handle a simulated college budget in order to better understand the finances of living after high school.

This spring, Joel Jacob, Instructor in Mathematics, will coordinate a weekly evening session on financial literacy to give students an understanding of how money works and how to manage one’s personal finances.

Interested students will conduct a simulation of what the first year after college will look like. With a hypothetical salary of $46,000, students will generate a budget that includes all of their living expenses, while taking into account residual debts from college as well as the effects of taking on consumer loan debts, according to Jacob.

The activity aims to help students learn how much it costs to rent an apartment, commute to work, buy food and have something left over to put into savings.

“Particularly here at Andover, I find that students are so motivated that they do what they think they are supposed to do in order to succeed, when in fact, if they saw the entire picture, they might have chosen a different path,” said Jacob

“I want to make sure that when students are going off to college, that they understand that whatever career path they take may be influenced by financial decisions you make in the future. I think I fashion myself as someone who likes to start the conversation,” he continued.

The idea started eight years ago while Jacob was teaching at New York City’s Hackley School, where he conducted a similar project.

“I realized that a number of my Seniors [who] were graduating had very little experience with managing personal finances. They expressed some interest in doing some basic financial literacy,” Jacob said.

Jacob conducted a similar project in his Math 570 class last spring after the Advanced Placement exams.

“I thought of different projects, like a research project on a mathematician or learning more calculus, but I decided that it would be interesting to step outside the classroom and into a computer lab to work on some applicable mathematics,” said Jacob.

Overall, the topic received a very positive response, and the majority of students enjoyed the initiative.

This project is open to everyone, though Jacob recommends that students at least be taking pre-calculus, due to the project’s non-linear nature.

“It is a group that aims to explore together, so if you have the interest and time, we would love to have you, although it would be nice to have a filter for pre-calc and above,” Jacob said.

Jacob hopes this project will foster a discussion about money, something that is seldom talked about on campus or in society.

“I think that one of the hardest conversations to have, whether you are an adult or a teenager, can be about money and finances. I don’t think we talk about it enough, and for legitimate reasons. It can make people uncomfortable: asking someone if they are on financial aid, asking a teacher about their salary, asking a friend how much his parents make. These questions are not socially acceptable,” said Jacob.