Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship: Helping high school seniors consider a future in small business

With only a few weeks of school to go before graduation, Van Wert City School seniors were offered yet another option to consider for their future:  becoming an entrepreneur and owning their own business.

Members of the Van Wert City Schools senior class are required to take Senior Government which includes a segment focused on Financial Literacy within the overall curriculum. The Financial Literacy portion of the class offers several aspects of personal finance, from car loans to credit cards. Missing in the program was an opportunity that involved owning your own business. Last year, Ohio State University Extension and the Wright State Lake Campus Business Enterprise collaborated with school administrators to teach students about starting their own business.

Van Wert HS EntrepreneurshipWith the program finishing its second year, Senior Government teacher, Bob Priest, was again impressed with the students’ interest and excitement about owning their own business. “Van Wert High School government students had the good fortune of participating with two universities at the local level for a three-day introduction to entrepreneurship, business planning and financing,” stated Priest. “I was impressed with the ideas the students created for the betterment of Van Wert, and then they had to put the numbers to their business plan. That was the difficult part. I think students now have a better understanding of how expensive and time consuming it can be to own a business.”

The program involved personal entrepreneurship assessments, identifying local market opportunities, and creating a business plan. In addition to a visit from local entrepreneur and business owner of Firehouse Pizza in Middle Point, the students learned about start-up expenses, on-going operating costs, pricing and break-even analysis.

Post-program evaluation results indicated that 98% of the students felt the program was suitable for graduating seniors and 95% recommended Van Wert High School continue to offer the program. Surprisingly, 48% of the students responded they would be interested in owning their own business in the future. “Because of this, I may now think about starting my own business while I may not have wanted to before,” remarked one of the participating students.

(Submitted by Cindy Leis, County Extension Educator, Van Wert County & Maumee Valley EERA and Van Wert City Economic Development Director)

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