Elease Dillard, 15, isn't planning for a career on Wall Street. But she understands that the better she understands finance, the better off she'll be in the future.
That's why she decided to enroll in Wall Street on West Peachtree, a day camp for local high school students that ran from July 21-25 at Georgia Tech College of Management.
"I thought it would be an important class to help me save up money," says Dillard, a student at Mill Creek High School in Gwinnett County, who plans to become a doctor. "It's good to start early."
Meeting the Need
Jonathan Clarke, associate professor of finance, developed the curriculum for this one-week tour of finance for high school students. "National high school financial literacy scores are horrendous," Clarke notes. "There's clearly a big need for this type of program."
The 35 students who participated in the College of Management's first annual finance camp learned strategies for saving money, how money grows over time, and differences between types of savings and investment accounts.
They were given an imaginary stock portfolio to manage using simulation software on the dual-display computers that fill the College's state-of-the art Ferris-Goldsmith Trading Floor.
Source of Inspiration
Clarke, the primary instructor in the finance camp, remembers that what first got him interested in a financial career was having the opportunity to participate in a stock simulation run by the local newspaper when he was a high school student in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"I just loved it and got really interested in Wall Street," he says. "I hope our camp's stock market simulations get these high school students excited about finance. It's a great career and an important area to study."
Noah Adler, 15, says that finance is among the careers he's considering to build upon his strong math skills. Getting to manage a stock portfolio was his favorite part of the camp, he says.
Given the shaky state of the economy, he hadn't thought that now would be a good time to invest in the stock market. "But now I see that you could make more profit than I had thought," says Adler, who attends Yeshiva High School in Doraville. "The teacher said it might be a good time to invest because stocks are low. If you keep money in there long enough, you'll get a profit."
The program cost $230 per student. Contributions from College of Management alumni and friends at Merrill Lynch enabled the College to offer need-based scholarships to approximately 14 students.