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Between the ages of 14 and 20, young men and women make critical decisions that affect the course of their whole lives – decisions about educational paths, career options, lifetime mates and family living.
Although thinking about the future may not be something that eighth-graders usually do, it is important that they make these critical decisions with the knowledge and a sophisticated attitude about the realities and options for their future.
All eighth-graders at Carroll County Middle School had the opportunity to think about where they would be at the age of 25 during the 4-H Reality Store last Tuesday.
Students were given a list of careers and were told how much education they must have in order to be employed in that career. Because the level of education determines the reality of a career, the students’ GPA was used to determine the students’ choices. Their career choice was based on completing post-secondary education, attending vocational or technical school, completing high school, going into the military or dropping out of high school.
The goals of the Reality Store were to give the youth a glimpse of their future in a fun and exciting way; to help youth become aware of their need for basic skills in financial planning, goal-setting, decision-making and career planning; to clarify the need for young men and women to examine their attitudes about their future and their career aspirations; and to motivate students to stay in school, stay away from drugs and avoid teenage pregnancy.
Volunteers came in and manned the different stations where the students paid their taxes and for everyday needs (utilities, food, etc,).
They also purchased housing, insurance, furniture and transportation and paid for childcare. This activity was meant to help the students understand that these bills must be paid monthly from their monthly income. Some students had to find a second job in order to live.
The student evaluation showed that out of 149 students, 115 students are now determined to try harder in school, 123 will seek more education after high school, 86 will delay having children (they had no idea how much childcare cost), 145 will make wise financial decisions, and 126 will save more of their money.
The students learned that there is a need to budget money and that they need to make wise financial choices. They learned about the costs to raise a child, what type of education they must have to get the job they want, how the type of job they have affects how much money they will make and how the amount of money they make will determine their lifestyle.
The students were wonderful, polite, and felt that this activity was beneficial. A big thank-you goes out to the eighth-grade teachers, guidance counselor Beth Wallace and the community volunteers for their time to make this event successful.
Joyce Doyle is the Carroll County Extension agent for 4-H and youth development. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to JWDoyl2@email.uky.edu.