Almost 300 high school students from across southwest Michigan will get a dose of reality on Friday as Midwest Energy Cooperative and Southwestern Michigan College team up to provide a new interactive educational event.
“It’s Reality” is a personal financial management exercise for high school students.
The half-day program offers practical, hands-on experience designed to teach students about budgeting and learning to live within their means.
Each student will be provided a monthly net income based on a career of their choosing and tasked with visiting 17 stations where they must make decisions for basic needs and lifestyle choices.
Examples include housing, transportation, loans, banking accounts and utilities.
Like the popular board Game of Life, choices and chance help students understand some financial realities of a post-high school world.
“Today’s students are provided with great academic information and resources, and our goal is to supplement that with an engaging interactive experience to bring those classroom lessons to life in a fun and meaningful way,” said Lori Ruff, event organizer and community relations specialist at Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis. “This is an exciting way that we can work in partnership with the greater community to support the next generation of business and community leaders.”
“Our business faculty will be available as financial consultants,” said Kim Luthringer, SMC lead admissions advisor.
The event begins Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. on the Dowagiac campus.
A number of other businesses are working with Midwest Energy and SMC to offer this experience, including C. Wimberley, Fifth Third Bank, Greater Niles Federal Credit Union and Realtors Brian and Debbie Floor.
High schools converge on the Dowagiac campus in two sets: a session at 8 a.m. for 60 students from Dowagiac Union High School and 23 from Ross Beatty High School in Cassopolis; and a second session at 9:30 for 200 students from Berrien Springs (40), Lawton (80), Niles Brandywine (50) and Coloma (30).
Students will hear an address touching on resumes and interview skills by Dr. Stacy Horner, dean of the School of Business and of the Niles Campus and advanced technology chair.
“Most of these students are juniors and seniors,” Luthringer said, “but Berrien Springs is going to bring some freshmen and 10th graders mixed in.”
The event revolves around the Student Activity Center theatre and gymnasium in the Charles O. Zollar Building, the theatre in the Dale A. Lyons Building and Mathews Conference Center East for lunch.