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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

Opinion: The Pitiful Personal Finance Course

The Personal Finance Course is missing critical pieces of information and entertainment that GBHS seniors need to succeed.
Seniors are left confused and frustrated about finances after taking the Personal Finance Course.

The dreaded Personal Finance Course. This online course, which can take hours to complete, is a required course to graduate. Furthermore, you must pass a final exam before a certain date that’s available once a month, or else you are placed on Senior Conduct and denied entry and enjoyment at the end of senior year. 

The Personal Finance Course (PFC) is an online Canvas course given to all Granite Bay High School seniors that teaches important financial information. The details are divided into four sections – Budgeting, Credit & Loans, Taxes and Investing & Retirement. Students must proceed sequentially, with each subsequent section locked until a green checkmark appears.

A screenshot of the Credit & Loans unit. The green checkmarks on the sign designate whether a section was completed (or marked as done). (Sabine Kanz)

Now, the PFC is not the worst class known to man. While it does induce stress, panic, crying and death by boredom, it attempts to educate us on useful information that we, as emerging citizens in the United States, need to know in life. If anything, the sooner we learn the information, the better, because those who choose to get a work permit have to deal with taxes, and many of us who go off to college receive student loans. Furthermore, the alternative is for us to learn about finances independently, rather than having a nice course laid out for us now. 

However, this is not the way to teach us this vital information.

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There are many problems with the course set-up. Firstly, it is an online, independent learning course. Any questions we have as students, we must either Google it, which leads to questionable resources, or just move on and hope the confusing topic is not tested on later. Asking other people is also out of the question, as how can we trust they know what they’re talking about? Sure, parents are a great option, but what if your parents are learning alongside you? They might know as much about the differences between a Roth IRA and a Traditional IRA as you do! 

Secondly, I find it not engaging at all and if anything, it drives students away from the possibility of learning about finance. Due to the thick bodies of text with mismatched formatting, many students become bored and skip through the course rather than taking the time to note down and absorb information. Since Gen Z has an average attention span of eight seconds, even less than a goldfish, whatever is marketed to us needs to be interactive and engaging, something the PFC strives for but struggles to do. Given, while multimedia elements like Youtube videos are used, who actually enjoys watching videos about taxes? They are also used in conjunction with thick bodies of confusing and distracting text, and important information is included in both.

An excerpt from a lesson explaining the options students have as investors. The varying font sizes, bolded words and capitalization, while fun to read, can be difficult to read and focus on for students and especially those with learning disabilities. (Sabine Kanz)

Additionally, many students don’t understand why they need to know this information. Seniors are only told that they must complete this course to graduate, leading to feelings of resentment and frustration towards a course that many feel is pointless and they should not have to take it. Financial literacy is important and creating irritation towards it from a younger age is not the best stance to give students when they are about to enter the workforce.

Another major problem with the PFC is its outdatedness. The PFC is chock full of heady, detailed information such as different variations of the 1040 (the tax form everyone fills out). The variations 1040EZ and 1040A are no longer offered, yet we still had to learn them. Furthermore, much of the data is based in the Spring of 2023, irrelevant to Spring 2024 students. This fuels  angry feelings towards the PFC – if the administrators don’t care enough to update the statistics, why should we care enough to waste our time learning the material?

These frustrations have a simple solution – get rid of the Personal Finance Course. We are a public school, meaning we’re funded by the government (and tax dollars), and California does not require students to graduate with personal finance understanding. We should not have to do this. Plus, a majority of students don’t feel they are learning anything. The information flows in one ear and out the other. 

The best method to ensure kids actually learn about finance is to embed it within our curriculum, within Economics, which is already a prerequisite to graduate. This way, students have a teacher to whom they can direct questions, and the information can be delivered in an engaging manner. Additionally, seniors should be allowed exemptions if they are taking AP Microeconomics or AP Macroeconomics, or can reasonably prove that they already have a general understanding of finance.

We are tired of online classes. We are tired of boredom. We are just tired.

The plea of all our GBHS seniors is: please, just get rid of the Personal Finance Course.

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About the Contributors
Sabine Kanz, Assistant Editor
Sabine is a Senior, and this is her second year on the Gazette staff.
Sienna Rodriguez, Assistant Editor
Sienna is a junior and Assistant Entertainment Editor. This is her third year on the Gazette staff.

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