Caren Pauley knows a lot more about financial planning than most high school seniors -- she's been lucky enough to learn it firsthand from a bank officer.
But Caren and other students enrolled in consumer math classes with teachers Dorothy Schleupner and Frank Peterka at Northeast High, put aside regular classwork for a chance to hear what Kathryn P. Rolls, assistant vice president for Maryland National Bank, had to say about "the real world."
Rolls left her office on Defense Highway in Annapolis for two weeks of instruction after seeing too many customers with limited knowledge of financial planning.
"My motivation as branch manager was that I see a lot of people who don't understand how to manage their money," Rolls said. "Many come (to the bank) in their later years and will not reach their financial goals because they haven't adequately planned. I wanted to work with young people to help them understand how to make it work for them."
The High School Financial Planning Program was developed by the Denver-based College for Financial Planning, where Rolls became certified as a financial planner in 1987. She is working on a master's degree in financial planning through the college.
The 18-year-old independent non-profit college, which trains professionals in financial services, is footing the bill for student workbooks and instruction materials at Northeast.
The national program is geared toward students, 16 to 18, designed to improve their understanding of financial planning, including information on earning income to meet goals, protecting assets, and saving and planning.
Even though students had just completed lessons on savings and checking accounts, Rolls offered practical life experiences.
Students were divided into groups of four to work on a case study involving a 17-year-old senior who had to make tough decisions between an out-of-town soccer trip, buying a new stereo, and planning for college and the senior prom.
Their priorities varied from passing on clothing expenses to parents in order to save for college or postponing it for a year or so. However, most students agreed that money should remain in their budgets for the prom and buying a stereo.
"They learned quickly that there was not enough money in the budget to do everything they wanted to do," Schleupner said. "I'm real pleased with the program."
But when it came to discussions in Peterka's class about buying a $5,000 used car (on paper) they were astonished to learn that they would have to earn at least $20,000 to qualify for a loan.
Peterka said he is especially excited about having someone from the "outside world" teach some of the more practical aspects related to consumer math.
"Students were able to see that if there are 100 different things that they want to do, they have set priorities," he said. "It was especially important for them to learn about planning for short-term and long-range goals.
"They saw that they should be putting their needs before their wants. I wish I had this type of information before I went to buy my house."
Schleupner said she is planning to incorporate the materials into her class next year including videotapes of the presentation this year.
Rolls is teaching the same program at Chesapeake High and is interested in offering it to all 12 county high schools.