(VIDEO) High school students from throughout the country visited Texas Tech to learn about finances.
Most teenagers use summer vacation to stay as far away from school and homework as possible, but last week almost 40 teenagers traveled to Texas Tech University to learn more about financial planning.
With projects around the College of Human Sciences building and teenagers seen taking notes in lecture halls, the inaugural Financial Planning Academy was deemed a success by organizers and participants alike.
The organizers, including faculty members from the Department of Personal Financial Planning, started preparing for the academy in January and continued until the camp. Assistant professor Christopher Browning, director of the camp, said he got the idea from a program at another university, and he knew he could bring it to Texas Tech.
“It's a great opportunity to expose young people to important financial planning concepts, regardless of what they want to do in college or professionally,” Browning said. “It will benefit them, but it'll also expose them to really great degree programs and opportunities.”
He and PFP professor Deena Katz worked with the Charles Schwab Foundation for funding, and Browning made his idea a reality and brought 39 teenagers to Texas Tech to learn about financial planning.
Browning had many goals for the camp, the first being to teach teenagers financial concepts that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. The second goal was to recruit students to Texas Tech.
“The goal is to recruit students who are interested in financial planning into our program and to grow this profession,” Browning said. “The growth of the profession is a product of more students in degree programs; that's another huge goal we have for the academy.”
Tanner Castle, a student adviser for the week, said the students came from throughout the country and have shown an interest in financial planning.
The students were split into teams at the beginning of the week, Castle said. Each team made its own firm and was given an imaginary client and case study. From there, the students had to come together to help the client reach its goals.
“As student advisers, we weren't allowed to give them any answers so we let them learn about all this and then find those answers on their own as a group,” Castle said. “That's what they did all week. On Friday they all presented their plans as they would to their clients to a panel of judges, who judged them based on their presentation.”
The students also competed in other competitions throughout the week, all of which factored into their final score. The campers built a virtual office space for their firm using Legos. There also was a social media challenge so the students could learn about marketing.
All of these competitions factored into the grand prize: $500 for each student on the winning team, Castle said.
In addition to planning with their groups, students heard from industry professionals on retirement, investing, credit, student loans and more. While the students are still in high school, Castle said the speakers explained the topics so as to make them relevant to their age group.
Brayden Lambrecht, a 17-year-old student from Castle Rock, Colorado, said he and his friends drove about 10 hours to attend this camp after an internship sparked his interest in financial planning.
“I did an internship as a freshman in high school at a financial planning firm and liked it, and Texas Tech has probably the best financial planning school in the country,” Lambrecht said. “When I saw they had their inaugural academy, me and my other two friends applied and we're all here now. I really wanted to seek out what they had to teach.”
Lambrecht said he is looking at financial planning as a career even more seriously now than he was before, and the academy made him interested in Texas Tech.
Throughout the week the students learned several lessons in finances, but Lambrecht said the one he got the most out of was retirement planning, because it is never too early to start.
Even if he decides not to pursue financial planning as a career, Lambrecht said retirement planning is still a skill he needs and is glad he got to learn it at the academy.
Besides learning about money, the students also worked together and learned teamwork and leadership skills throughout the week.
“We're all from really diverse areas; there are kids who were younger, older, athletes, not athletes, from different states,” Lambrecht said. “We're just kind of thrown together in a melting pot and come together, set aside differences and really work together for the betterment of the group. It was not necessarily easy, but I am better for it.”
Ben Slyker, a 15-year-old from Lubbock, said it was exciting to visit Texas Tech, because the campus is like a separate city from Lubbock. Those attending the camp also got to visit Jones AT&T stadium and swim at Robert H. Ewalt Student Recreation Center.
The teenagers stayed in Gordon Hall for the week, which Slyker said he has wanted to do for a long time and cannot wait to do it again.
Amidst the intense curriculum, Slyker said having the Texas Tech student assistants kept the camp fun.
“The student helpers and friends helped relieve our stress about winning the competition,” he said. “They helped me appreciate the strategy behind the decisions we made.”
Slyker said the camp is more advanced than what he has learned about financial management in school, and balanced learning tough subjects with fun experiences.
“If you have an interest in managing money and investing, I think this camp is a really great thing,” he said. “It really gave us a chance to experience what a career in financial planning is like. It was pretty intense.”