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For Lycoming College’s 2019 Fall Semester, the first-year seminar, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” was offered to incoming freshmen. Created and taught by Georg Grassmueck, Ph.D, associate professor and department chair of business administration, the course provides students with important financial information for their life after Lycoming.
Grassmueck created this first-year seminar with the intention of going beyond the regular instruction of finance and applying it toward practical and real-life means. “When I teach basic finance, we do almost the same thing, except it’s much more finance oriented and less about what it means for your life,” said Grassmueck. “I always thought it would be really fun to emphasize the impact finance has on your life. [In the first-year seminar,] we spend more time on topics such as saving for college and saving for retirement, and then follow that up with guest speakers and other activities.”
According to the course’s description, the overall purpose of this first year seminar can be summarized in three main points: to improve math skills by learning about the time value of money and basic statistics applied to financial decisions; to strengthen understanding of the financial decisions we face on a daily basis, such as how much should be saved, should minimum payments be made on a credit card, how to pay off student loans, or whether to buy a stock or a bond; and to enhance the transition and learning experience for new college students through field trips and guest speakers.
This semester, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” has closely followed its description. The first section of the course focused on understanding the math and calculation side of finance, while the second section turned to real life applications and advice. Grassmueck accomplished this through bringing in a wide range of guest speakers, from finance-informed community members to Lycoming alumni. Students have learned how to deal with mortgages, buy insurance, and save for retirement. The course also held numerous field trips, one to the Blaise Alexander car dealership, where students learned the essentials of buying a car. The students have also visited and interacted with workers of multiple banks in the Williamsport area. So far, the course has heard from a total of eight guest speakers, and Grassmueck plans to have even more come in before the semester’s end. In addition, Students were required to participate in the events organized by the Center for Enhanced Academic Experiences (CEAE), including “Resume Writing” and “Exploring Majors” workshops.
The required work for the class encourages students to think financially. “A lot of people say, ‘I wish somebody would have told me this when I was in college, and I would have saved immediately, or set up a budget,’” explained Grassmueck. “For the final project, students have to come up with a personal budget for their time after Lycoming.” This project urges students to think about their major, their possible career, and how they’ll handle their money — all skills that will place them ahead of their peers in terms of financial preparedness.
“Who Wants to be a Millionaire” is a part of Lycoming College’s First-Year Seminars, offering students an opportunity to explore a topic that may be totally new and unfamiliar. A student can broaden their mind and discover a new interest by selecting a First-Year Seminar outside of their immediate areas of interest. Each First-Year Seminar meets a general education requirement, so all will advance the student toward graduation. Other first-year seminars include “Zen and Art,” “Medieval Food and Culture,” “SciFi Technology Society,” and many more.