TCU’s Intro to Personal Finance class grows


taken by Madelyn Steckbeck

By Madelyn Steckbeck

College prepares students to get a job, but when do they learn to handle a paycheck?

In the spring semester of 2016, a new class was offered to students: Introduction to Personal Finance.

The class has returned this semester with 47 students enrolled.

The one-hour class counts as an upper division elective that’s instructed as pass or no credit course open to students of all majors.

Instead of a textbook, students prepare for class by reading assigned articles from publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, CNBC and Market Watch.

Ramona Locke, the Introduction to Personal Finance professor, said she tries to keep the topics relevant to what seniors will need to know as they go into the real world.

Ramona Locke lecture taken by Madelyn Steckbeck

“We discuss basics but keep it current. I didn’t want the students to have to buy another expensive book so we use current articles pertinent to each topic,” Locke said.

The majority of students enrolled in the class this semester are juniors and seniors from all majors.

Lauren Tooman, a senior biology major on the pre-med track, is currently enrolled in the class.

Tooman said she first heard about the class from a friend, who took the class during the previous semester, “she said the environment was very welcoming and classroom discussions were encouraged.”

Tooman was interested in the class because she thought it would give her insight on taking care of her finances as soon as she graduates.

“Since I’m a biology major, I haven’t taken any finance classes and don’t know much about how to handle money,” said Tooman. “So, I thought this was a great way to get my feet wet. I also like that we cover many broad topics, including budgeting, saving for a house or car and investing throughout the semester.”

The first semester of the class was a success, growing from 30 students to 47.

“We had to find a larger room to accommodate the 50-plus percent increase in the students who wanted to register,” Locke said. “Originally, the class had a size limit, but I wanted everyone who was interested in taking the class to have an opportunity to do so.”

The growing popularity of the class has led to an expansion for the upcoming semesters.

There will be two class sections offered in the fall of 2017 and three sections in the spring of 2018.

“I think the course is popular because the students have stated that they aren’t getting this basic knowledge anywhere else in the curriculum…even the Neeley students,” Locke said.

According to a recent survey by U.S. Bank, 65 percent of students gave themselves a C, D or F when considering whether they can successfully manage their finances and money.

TCU is not alone. Universities across the country have added personal finance classes to their curriculum within the decade.

Oberlin College, University of California Berkley, Washington University of St. Louis and University of Michigan Ann Arbor all offer personal finance courses that cover a wide range of money management topics.

Tooman said it would be very beneficial if the class became a requirement to graduate.

“I already have learned so much and feel ready to handle my expenses once I have my first full-time job. I think other students would gain a lot of knowledge as well,” said Tooman.

While there is no future plan to make the new class part of the TCU core requirements, Locke said that if she could, she would make sure that every graduating senior had this fundamental knowledge before receiving their diploma.

“No matter what you studied in college, we all need to know the important foundational principles of managing your financial life in a responsible manner,” Locke said.