University of Illinois Extension serving Clay, Effingham, Fayette and Jasper Counties
Main Office (Effingham County)
1209 Wenthe Drive
Effingham, IL 62401
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm
Branch Office (Clay County)
223 W Railroad St
Flora, IL 62839
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm
Branch Office (Fayette County)
118 N. Sixth Street
Vandalia, IL 62471
Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm
Branch Office (Jasper County)
Newton, IL 62448
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00am - 4:00pm
On March 27, 2015, approximately 123 sophomores at Vandalia Community High School participated in the University of Illinois Extension Welcome to the Real World! simulation program. Welcome to the Real World! is an active, hands-on program that gives young people the opportunity to explore careers and make lifestyle and spending choices similar to those adults face.
In this simulation, participants assume that they have completed basic educational requirements for their careers and are single and 25 years of age. They live on their own and are independent with no financial support from family or others. They receive a monthly salary for their occupation, deduct taxes, determine a savings amount, pay a student loan payment, if applicable, and spend their "salary" on the necessary and other items that reflect their chosen lifestyle. Using sample savings and transaction account registers and deposit slips, students learn how to record and manage their accounts. They make the appropriate deposits/deductions and record the amounts in their transaction and savings account registers for the following categories: clothing, entertainment, groceries, housing, insurance, transportation, and utilities. They also choose a “chance” card which represents the unexpected expenses and incomes encountered in the real world. After each choice, they make a deposit, use a debit card, make an online payment, write a check, and balance their check register.
“During the simulation, students gain an understanding of the expenses associated with daily adult living,” said Tabitha Welch, Extension educator in 4-H Youth Development at University of Illinois Extension in Fayette County. “One of the most valuable parts of the program is the local volunteers who share their skills and knowledge with the participants.”
Local volunteers for this year’s program included: Laquita Hans of Midland States Bank, Kelly Washburn and Kris Nalley of Fayette County Real Estate, Steve Ledbetter of Hosick Motors, Kyle Anderson of Willms & Yakel Insurance, John Winter of Southwestern Electric, John Ashdown of Family YMCA of Fayette County, Mary Schulze of Kaskaskia College, Janet Shulman, Matt Philbrick, Annie Bright, and Mindy Cox. Extension Staff and VCHS employees also helped to make the program a success.
At the conclusion of the activities, students evaluate how well they spent/saved their money. They consider the choices they made and discuss what alternatives might be taken in the real world. Here’s what participants had to say about how this program changed their view of life in the future, “I’ve realized that having a job and making money is going to be highly important. It was very fun! I spent money!” “I realized that being an adult is stressful, but I can do it!” “I know now that it will be important for me to finish school and go to college. I’ll have to get a good job where I’ll make good money.”
“This Real World simulation helps youth practice skills they need today and will continue to need throughout their life,” Welch concluded.
A nine session Welcome to the Real World! classroom experience is also being conducted at Alternative Education Programs in Vandalia. The program began on March 4, 2015 and will continue through April 29, 2015. Both High School and Junior High students will not only participate in the simulation portion of the program, but are also learning about defining values and setting goals, making money and saving money, spending money and using credit, managing risks, and planning spending.
To learn more about Fayette County 4-H and Extension programs, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/cefj/ or find us on Facebook U of I Extension Clay, Effingham, Fayette, and Jasper County.
Source: Tabitha Welch, Extension Educator, 4-H and Youth Development, firstname.lastname@example.org