Millennials to the Rescue!

Chip Corley |

Image via Library NaUKMA/Flickr CC

Doom and gloom hullabaloo: that’s what tomorrow’s leaders seem to think about today’s state of affairs. For the past several years I’ve been a Junior Achievement volunteer at the local high school. In the past I’ve taught Personal Finance and Entrepreneurship, this semester I’m teaching Career Success. Yesterday, during our initial get to know-you introduction I got to ask the students their view on the world, now and in the future. Unanimously, each student was optimistic!

I asked them the following questions:

1) Do you think that Americans are living in tough times?
2) Are you confident or unconfident about your future?
3) What percentage of millennials will be able to achieve the American dream?

Again, each of these senior high students believe their future looked promising. I informed the students that 44% of today’s Americans are unable to pay for an unexpected $400 expense (according to the Fed’s report on U.S. Household Economic Well-being). Yet, these resolute high school students were undeterred; they believe in a better world just the same. This high school class is just a small sampling and yet their answers and positions on important issues is in stark contrast to what is depicted in the news.



The media at large seems to wage war on our nation’s health and the world’s dire state-of-affairs. News services portray our country as deeply divided along political lines. They broadcast hostile protests and marches that are brazenly flaunted as systemic. At times, it becomes difficult to ascertain which news stories are accurate or inaccurate. The spin of such things is noticeably and lopsidedly negative. However, this wasn’t the case for these high school seniors that I had the privilege of spending time with yesterday. They are readying themselves for what’s next in their lives: college, creating a better life for themselves and others, and dreaming big.

What do I think about our educational system? Is it failing or not? I can tell you this, the students in my J.A. class are winners. And, you know who else is a winner? Their teacher. I define a winning teacher as someone who is knowledgeable, passionate about the students’ development, patient, understanding, eager to educate the students each day, nonjudgmental, caring, in many ways selfless, and holds a firm belief that developing the minds of our children is fundamental to our way of life. The teacher in the class I’m contributing to embodies these qualities.

What’s this have to do with investing and personal finance? Everything! Ours is a world of both physical and digital necessity. For America to remain a shining light, our future leaders must be well equipped to thrive in the new age. Why aren’t top educators paid like athletes, movie stars, artists, doctors, lawyers, and the like? Should they be? Yesterday’s methods of teaching and training may need to be tweaked, improved, or in some instances revamped entirely, but not always. A fulfilling education begins with the teacher. The best teachers make all the difference. Students are clever and instinctual. They will seek the very best teachers as a rite-of-passage. Successful educators that enable their students to thrive and achieve exceptional results deserve to be paid accordingly. As Warren Buffett likes to say, “Bet on America.” I’d add, “Bet on millennials.”

William Corley

Author of,
Financial Fitness: The Journey from Wall Street to Badwater 135

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