Reality check – checked off the list! In March, students at the University of Texas–University Charter School participated in the second annual Reality Check event designed to give exposure to real-world challenges such as budgeting and buying a home or car.
Held on the MCH Waco campus, MCH staff and representatives from local businesses guided high school students through the event. Students first selected a career and learned what type of salary they might expect to receive, then were tasked with managing real-life expenses like doctors’ visits and childcare. Many were surprised by the cost of living and discovered compromise is key.
“A lot of kids wanted sports cars, but they didn’t like how much it ate up their budget,” said Debra Knox, Independent Living residential supervisor. “We helped them realize they could get an additional job or lessen their budget for other essentials. But we really encouraged them to give up on the sports cars and put their money toward higher priorities.”
Many students rose to the challenge and worked hard to make their budget fit within the paycheck their desired career might provide.
“Our students were determined to not finish in the red,” said Cortney Richardson, student events and volunteer supervisor, who organized the event. “They learned how to make financially sound decisions and how to manage their incomes well.”
Lacey, a senior hoping to attend Blinn College and then Texas A&M University to become a veterinarian, was assigned a hypothetical 1-year-old child as part of the Reality Check activity.
“I learned about the push and pull of budgeting and I learned just how much childcare costs,” Lacey said. “I had $500 left to spend or save after going through the reality check. I’m focused on my career goals and don’t want to waste anything away.”
“This is my favorite event of the year for our students,” said Trey Oakley, MCH president and CEO. “We foster a culture of learning and I am very proud of the work our staff and partners have done to ensure another successful Reality Check event. This serves as an eye-opener for our youth and ultimately helps them prepare for life beyond our care.”