Financial Literacy class offers students the chance to learn how to manage their finances

Tulane offers a broad range of subjects and courses from graphic design to molecular biology. One subject some students say they would like to learn more about, however, is financial literacy.

According to Toni Weiss, Lawrence M.v.D. Schloss Senior Professor of Practice, the average college student is not skilled at managing their finances.

“I’d say that, for the most part, [students] are not particularly financially literate — through no fault of their own,” Weiss said. “There generally aren’t places to learn things that we somehow expect people to know how to do.”

Weiss teaches a financial literacy class at Tulane which she says allows students to develop skills to be financially successful during and after college. The course is taught every spring semester and is open primarily to School of Liberal Arts Management Minor students, though any student is allowed to register after SLAMM students if spots are still open.

Topics discussed in the course include the time value of money, taxes, insurance, budgeting and much more.

The course was endowed by Tulane alumnus and finance expert Lawrence Schloss, who Weiss says funded the class after watching his daughters graduate from college with no understanding of how to succeed financially.

“If you [invest] every year for 30 years, and invest it judiciously, you’re going to wake up with a million dollars,” Schloss told a Tulane New Wave reporter. “You have to force yourself to do this. It’s too important not to do, and only costs about the price of a cheeseburger per week.”

Some students, including junior Sarah Tatarski, said they believe they could use a class like this.

“I think in general college students spend erratically,” Tatarski said. “I definitely notice that trend with my Tulane friends and even myself. There isn’t a real rational approach to spending money.”

Financial literacy, however, is only one practical skill set Weiss said she hopes to teach students in her class. Weiss called it a “how to adult class” and said the material covers a range of skills, including negotiating rental agreements, reading leases and even getting a divorce.

“What they keep hearing is ‘Follow your passion, follow your passion,’ and in reality most people don’t have a passion, and they just need a job.”

Toni Weiss
Lawrence M.v.D. Schloss Senior Professor of Practice

According to Weiss, though academic, theory-based classes have their place, skills-based classes like financial literacy are an important part of education that students often miss. Weiss said some students struggle to find a job after college because of the heavy focus on taking classes that interest them rather than signing up for practical courses.

“It’s no fault of their own, because what they keep hearing is ‘follow your passion, follow your passion,’ and in reality most people don’t have a passion, and they just need a job.” Weiss said.

Weiss said she would like to see Tulane do more to make sure graduates receive the education and support they need to succeed in all areas of their lives.

“We spend so much time and energy and money helping freshmen adjust to college — really valuable — but we spend no time helping seniors get ready for the world at large,” Weiss said. “We do career training, but it’s so much bigger than that, and we don’t do anything, and we send them off at graduation, and we say good luck, and then really the only thing that they hear from us again is to ask for money.”

Sophomore Ashley Chen said she would like to see more resources and workshops available for Tulane students.

“I don’t feel prepared at all because I haven’t been able to start working and really managing my own funds,” Chen said. “It would help with my confidence — and hopefully actually help with real-life applications, too — if there were things like workshops on how to do taxes, or introductory classes on stock markets, investments, and trends in finance and international businesses.”

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