Ramstein middle and high school students had the opportunity to learn lifelong skills through the CU4Reality program May 5.
CU4Reality is a business model curriculum that has been integrated into classrooms to teach students the importance of budgeting, career and lifestyle choices. The program has been used in American schools in Germany for the past nine years.
Sandra M. Campbell, overseas education department manager, said the purpose of the program is to show students how their grades can impact their future career and the overall choices they will make on a daily basis.
The program is part of a business class that students can choose to enroll in. When they first start the class they do not know what their career path will be yet, but as students progress throughout the semester, their potential professions are dictated by their cumulative grade earned.
Once the students had a better idea of their status in the class, they were given options on what career path would match their grade. The hope is that the students will understand the correlation between receiving good grades to pursue a well-paying career in the future, Campbell said.
“We did research on what types of careers are available to each grade-range,” she said. “A lot of them realize they may need to do better in school to make the right career choice. The purpose of the program is to show them the importance of school for their futures.”
Erin Markus, Ramstein High School business, computer and health education teacher, explained that this is the second semester her students have participated in this program and she hopes it continues in the future.
“I love teaching the business course because it’s important to be prepared for the current economy and instability these days,” she said. “We’re trying to get them prepared for any adversity they may experience, but also the realities in life. I always tell my students that they may not understand the relevance of this course until they’re faced with making their own budgets and paying their own bills. Hopefully they’ll remember something they learned from my class, and that’s how I know I did my job.”
Through the semester, the students basically created a fictional life for themselves reflecting their real goals. The teachers made sure they were ambitious but realistic at the same time.
“They had to choose their career, research how many years they would have to go to college and the average salary for their chosen career,” Markus explained. “This course is just a snippet of reality and a familiarization of what’s to come in their futures.”
Some students struggled to stay within their financial means, while others made the most of their situation and kept their spending practical.
“It was an interesting experience,” said Dominic Kubaz, Ramstein High School senior. “There are a lot of things I didn’t think about like insurance and taxes that really cut into your pay. It made me realize how bad things can get really quickly if you aren’t budgeting.
“I chose to be a doctor, so I definitely had money to spend,” he continued. “I was convinced to take the exclusive apartment which was a one bedroom for $3,900 a month. I also went with a Tesla car, and almost bought a Macbook, watch and sports game tickets, but when I looked at my budget, I realized I couldn’t buy everything I wanted. Even if you make a lot of money, you still have to cut back.”
Brittany Peterson, Ramstein High School senior, said her career of choice was a high school teacher.
“I didn’t have a whole lot of money so I had to be very realistic,” Peterson said. “I learned that if I’m really thrifty and don’t spend a lot of money on food or temptations, then I definitely do have enough money, but I have to be very careful. I had enough money for everything I needed and some things I wanted. I went with things that were mid-priced and practical. I learned that I can spend in my range, I just have to make sure I keep my spending reasonable.”
The students agreed that the experience taught them the importance of budgeting and being practical regardless of their income in the future.
Though some students are graduating from high school, while others have years to go before reaching adulthood, they were all able to get a head-start on practicing budgeting and being realistic when it comes to living on their own financial plan. With programs like this, students are able to learn important lessons and better prepare themselves for their futures after graduation.