The Real World

Eighth graders from NMS, T-SJ and St. Ann School line up at the “bank” during the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s Reality Day, held at the Nashville Community Center on Thursday, April 26.

Welcome To…

The Real World

By Alex Haglund

Bankers distributed funds. College employees assessed tuition bills. Real estate agents set people up with houses or apartments. It was a normal day at the office to them, but the folks they were serving weren’t their normal customers – they were eighth graders from Nashville District 49, St. Ann School and Trinity–St. John School, and if one had to guess, the thought running through many of their heads was, “my, oh my, what have I gotten myself into?”

The event was “Reality Day”, sponsored by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, an annual education event which puts the budget and checkbook into the hands of young students and asks, “where does your money need to go?”

Reality Day was held at the gym in the Nashville Community Center on the morning of Thursday, April 26.

The bankers, realtors, college employees, and yes, newspaper editors and ad managers, were all there as volunteers, taking checks cautiously written out by the youngsters who got just a tiny glimpse of what their parents and other adults go through every day.

Before the event, students were asked to decide what career they wanted, were assigned a monthly “paycheck” from this, and then had to figure out how to make the numbers work.

While some of the students seemed not to care very much, many got a real glimpse at what the adults in their life do, not just for themselves, but for their kids. Hopefully, some of the lessons they learned will be retained, but some things need to truly be experienced by one’s own self, before they “stick.”

This newspaper editor was assigned to the evaluation booth at the very end of the circuit that the students progressed through, and before turning over the students’ evaluations of the event, took his choice of some of the more entertaining ones to publish (without including names), here.

The question was, “What was the most important thing you learned?”

Some of their answers were:

“To not buy new cars and big houses if you don’t make very much money.”

“Life is not as easy as I expected.”

“If you spend too much on some things, you won’t have any money left at the end of the month.”

“Big jobs and no family equals lots of money to spend.”

“No family means more money.” (This is a recurring theme – there are others too).

“Big bills will drain you of your money.”

“Buy cheap things.”

“Not to get married.”

“That everything cost a lot more than you would think.” (The prices assessed to the students were actually quite a bit cheaper than those experienced in the real world, at least for some of the stations)

“Adulthood isn’t very fun.”

“Adulthood is a tough pill to swallow.”

“Adulthood is stressful”

“Don’t have kids. Life is very expensive.”

“Don’t spend all your money on children.”

“Save all your money well. Also, eat at home.”

“I will have a lot of student loans as an ophthalmologist.”

“Be cheap.”

“How to fill out a check. And that I do not want children for right now.”

“Not living in a cardboard box. And that missing classes is fun!”

“Don’t keep spending money on random stuff.”