Why Most High Schoolers Don’t Know How to Manage Their Money

High school students are studying up 5474825330_4470fa5928_zon calculus, advanced chemistry, and world history, but most aren’t learning fundamental money lessons to help them financially navigate the real world.

Such is the case with Jessica Pollack’s son Adam, an 18-year-old who graduated in May from Los Alamitos High School in Orange County, California. Much to Jessica’s chagrin, the school doesn’t require its students to take a personal-finance class to graduate. “It’s a top-rated school, but there is no personal-finance requirement, which is just astonishing to me,” Jessica says. “There’s a technology requirement that’s statewide. As a technology teacher, I appreciate that, but these kids are exposed to computers and technology all the time. Yet when it comes to buying the computer and financing it, they’re clueless.”

Like Jessica’s son, the majority of children will graduate from high school without being taught basic money lessons, including how to create a budget or write a check. For an article for U.S. News & World Report, I explored why only 13 states require high school students to take a personal-finance class to graduate.