Ross Seaman, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Spring 2016 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the prompt: “As a senior nearing graduation, you’ve learned many things but there is much you don't know. What is something you think Pepperdine could have taught you in order to better prepare you for post-grad life? Create a proposal for a course that covers that topic.”
I am a senior in college who has had some sort of job every month for the last seven years of my life. My bank account has been up, but it is currently not looking as healthy as it once did. Working jobs that bring in anywhere between $10 and $20 dollars part time, while paying for Coachella tickets, drinks in Hollywood, Cabo spring break, and going out on dates can be a little excessive. Not to mention that currently I haven’t even started paying student loans, my own rent, or auto insurance. Because my bank account is at a measly $600, the well is going dry. Based on this, the course I would recommend for Pepperdine is a basic money management course.
When we look at all the finances that adults face, here are the major categories: automobiles, childcare, clothing, education, events, groceries, insurance, healthcare, rent, and vacation. A college student, on the other hand, will only encounter a fraction of those costs, depending on how much help from daddy that they get. It is understood that college students dedicate lots of time to class and studying, but the transition from being a dependent college student to an independent graduate should be assisted by the university.
This basic money management course I am suggesting is not just for business majors; everyone needs to learn how to manage their money. This course will walk through understanding what money is worth in terms of all of the previously listed categories. If one is earning a 50k annual salary, what is an appropriate price to pay for rent? A car? This course will teach students how to budget, save, and most importantly, invest. I am nearing graduation and still have no idea how the stock market works. I am not in this boat alone. With no idea how the stock market works, I stand as an intimidated spectator, scared to get my hands dirty and lose my money. I have also not had a serious talk about credit scores, beyond the woman at Macy’s or Wells Fargo who biasedly tries to pitch the limited-time credit card. This is the type of knowledge that is practical for each student, knowledge that everyone needs.
As far as skills taught in this class, negotiation and basic tax paying should be incorporated. When negotiating a price for a car, rent or even a used lawnmower on Craigslist, many students have little experience in negotiating. Negotiation is a basic skill that is used in every field, one that definitely needs to be emphasized in education more than it already is. Lastly, paying taxes, bills and insurance can be confusing and daunting. Students should be required to learn with basic knowledge how this works so that we are able to be self-sufficient.
If this course were offered while I was at Pepperdine, maybe I would have more than $600 in my account and wouldn't be as stressed as I am on finances.
Ross is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in Advertising.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.