Money Not for Dummies

One of life’s challenges—managing your own money—is seldom taught in college. But making personal financial decisions is inevitable for most people, and scary, even for Scripps women. So, what has Scripps College done about it?

Patricia Dillon, professor of economics and the Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Professor in European Studies, is committed to making Scripps women “money wise.” This spring, seniors can take an innovative personal finance class that helps prepare them for financial independence.

Part of an umbrella program called “Money Wise Women,” Economics 40 teaches women tools they’ll need when they step out into the world on their own: how to buy your first home or what to watch out for when signing an apartment lease; how to avoid debt, or manage debt if you fail the avoidance test; and even how to write a prenuptial agreement, and when it’s a good idea.

“Managing personal finances involves a set of skills one is expected to acquire through experience, by osmosis, or around the water cooler—or by reading a book for dummies,” Dillon says. She has a better way.

In her class, Dillon brings finance professionals, often alumnae, to stress the importance of being prepared. Discussions of postgraduation financial priorities and retirement planning foster an attitude of empowerment in students. Each year, the class fills quickly.

Dillon’s class is the only such course offered for credit at The Claremont Colleges. However, there are weekly activities across the five campuses to help students become financially savvy, such as lectures, conferences, workshops, and club activities.

The personal finance class is an integral part of Money Wise Women, which oversees the many financial education opportunities at Scripps. Representatives from the student run enterprises—the Motley Coffeehouse and The Scripps Store—as well as entrepreneurial, business and economic organizations such as the Student Investment Fund, join alumnae, faculty, and staff to coordinate activities, and in some instances, pool resources.

The most recent component of Money Wise Women is Finance Fridays, an increasingly popular social event where Scripps students travel to Santa Monica to meet-and-greet alumnae in finance.

“It’s an opportunity to help students understand how important networking is,” said Arianne Pagsisihan ’03, an investment manager and Riordan fellow at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “It also teaches etiquette—like not stuffing your face at a business mixer.”

 

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