Metamora Township High School freshmen, on April 24, got a chance to see what the real world will be like.
About 270 students participated in the Real World program, where students get an early look at the challenges of balancing a budget on their own.
“I heard about it at a conference and I observed it at Morton High School,” counselor Malinda Brown said. “Then, I tailored it to meet our needs.”
Brown said this was the fifth or sixth year the school has done the program.
The students, in groups of about 14 each, started off by choosing careers and getting an income before getting turned into 25-year-olds by a magic wand.
After the transformation, students started moving station to station and budgeting monthly expenses.
“So, they’re budgeting for things an adult would at age 25,” Brown said. “So they have their car loans, their house loans ... all the different payments that they make. Then, they try to balance their budget.”
The stations included college loans, transportation, housing, food, insurance, entertainment and more. They also had the option of joining the military.
Halfway through the stations, students went to the Reality Check station to make sure their checkbooks were balanced and that they were not bankrupt.
If a student did go bankrupt, and many did, they were issued a red card that stations had to sign to see how quickly they ran out of money.
At the final station, students pulled a chance card to see if they had an unexpected expense or income to factor in.
Stationed at each area were business volunteers from the area that gave personal experiences and helped discuss choices made. The businesses helping were: Illinois Air National Guard, Illinois Central College, CEFCU Bank, Commerce Bank, Henry State Bank, Heartland Bank, Eureka Community Bank, PNC Bank, RE/MAX Unlimited, MTCO, Honda World of Peoria, JC Penny, IGA, Country Insurance, Zobrist Scheirer Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Peoria Civic Center. Small group speakers: Illinois State University, Caterpillar, Robert Morris University and Woodford County state’s attorney-Greg Minger.
Four of the businesses also gave presentations to the students in the afternoon. They were: Caterpillar, Robert Morris, the district attorney and Illinois State University.
Brown said students that have gone through the program think that it is “very beneficial.”
“Usually, the students have been very receptive. It gets them thinking about money,” she said.