Treasure Mountain International students get a taste of reality
November 9, 2010
Students in eighth grade at Treasure Mountain International School began their careers and budgeted for real-life needs at Reality Town Thursday. Students chose occupations based on their current Grade Point Average.
As part of the Reality Town curriculum, Treasure Mountain counselor Mary Klismith visited social-studies classrooms to teach students about how their GPA could affect their long-term goals.
"There are certain colleges that will just look at your GPA and your test scores," Klismith said.
The level of education a student achieved for Reality Town was directly linked to their grades. Students with a 3.8 GPA or higher were able to apply for jobs requiring a doctorate. A job requiring a master’s degree was attainable with a 3.5 or higher. With a 3.0 or higher, students qualified for a career with a bachelor’s degree, while a 2.0 equates to an associate’s or technical training degree. A 1.7 GPA warrants a high school diploma and anyone can choose to apply for an occupation that has no educational requirements.
Klismith said many students chose the highest-paying job they could get as determined by their education. But many took a risk by choosing to follow their interests instead.
Caitlin Lanzel could have chosen an occupation from among those requiring a master’s degree. Instead she decided to follow her passions and become an actress.
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"It turns out, in Reality Town, that doing what you love doesn’t necessarily pay off," she said.
As part of the program, income closely matched current occupational trends to create a real income environment for the students. They filled out realistic job applications, listing their name, address, education, experience and references.
After choosing and securing their career, students drew a "life" at random, which outlines whether they are married and if their spouse is employed, how many children they would need to support and whether or not they have health care.
After drawing a life in which she is the primary source of income for three children and a husband without a job, Lanzel had about $2,500 a month for her bills.
Students decided what type of vehicle and home to purchase and then budgeted for clothing, groceries and other responsibilities. Some experienced surprise expenses they hadn’t anticipated.
"I found that my income just wasn’t enough to take care of everything," she said.
Lanzel had to withdraw from her emergency savings account and get a second job to supplement her income before she could make ends meet.
Some of her friends chose jobs as doctors or lawyers and they were not only comfortable with their income, they were able to afford luxuries such as cruises and tropical vacations, Lanzel said.
"I think it was one of the most realistic parts, because a lot of people in the world do things for money and not to make them happy," Lanzel said. "A lot of people were very successful and a lot of people were like me and were struggling to get through."
Klismith said the students understood GPA isn’t the only factor in building a successful career. "You can go to college with a 2.5, it just may not be the college of your dreams," Klismith said. But she said they learned the importance it plays in seeking a college education.
"I think the reason for reality town is to show us that education is important," Lanzel said.