On March 20, 2013, 280 UK students participated in the first It’s Your Reality financial simulation. The event allowed students the opportunity to learn about and consider the financial realities they will face after completing college. Twenty-five booths manned by experts showcased a variety of financial conditions and decisions that will confront college graduates as they enter their careers.

Katie Keith helps a student through It's Your Reality

The first stop for all students provided a salary based upon the student’s major. The students then chose a projected life path, including plans for marriage and children, graduate school and other decisions. Each booth thereafter provided information regarding basic life expenses that will be faced each month. Examples included a credit counselor discussing credit card debt, a student loan counselor discussing repayment, a car dealership discussing options for new and used cars, and a real estate professional discussing rent or mortgage payments. Students were encouraged to visit all of the booths and the time for these visits was equivalent to a 50-minute class period.

As students progressed through the simulation, they began to see how expense from basic life activities will quickly tap and deplete earnings. In total, 244 students completed on-site evaluations. Those evaluations indicated that students gained a greater understanding of the importance of budgeting. Evaluations also documented that students had not considered how family size and children will impact a monthly budget.

UK student Jordan McDowell stated, “The event was a well-organized process of experiencing future based living resources. This event showed me the challenges I will face in the near future!”

Katie Keith, Extension Associate for Family Financial Management, was one of the organizers of the event. She remarked, “The program was very successful. There was tremendous support from the community, faculty and staff. Through this simulation, students understood how important it is to set and follow a budget.”

With the overwhelmingly positive response from the March event, planning is underway to repeat the simulation during the fall semester. The fall event will provide opportunities for participation one of two days, either September 17 or 18 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Student Center Grand Ballroom. Additional details will be shared as the fall semester begins in August.