At a place like Bowdoin, chances are high that you will find more than a few students who can do calculus and talk about classical literature, but have no clue how to do taxes or what a 401(k) is. 

A new Financial Literacy Group on campus is looking to solve this problem by helping to educate students on managing personal finance, a skill often not acquired from a Bowdoin education. 

The group, founded by Jessica Gluck '18, aims to educate students through a series of speakers and newsletters. 

Gluck’s inspiration for starting this group came over the summer when she was part of a mentorship program with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which deals with corporate and investment banking. 

“I [asked myself], ‘How am I learning about finance as a career and managing other people’s money when, personally, I don’t know about finance for myself, personal finance?’” she said.  
Gluck had heard her friends and peers express similar concerns and decided that creating a club would help herself and others learn about personal finance at Bowdoin.

Dean of Student Affairs Tim Foster praised the group’s decision to tap into an area of concern for many students. 

“Seniors identify [that] the thing they feel least prepared for as they leave Bowdoin is managing their personal finances,” said Foster, referring to the annual survey sent to graduating seniors.
“For some of our students, personal financial management is something that is a well-developed skill before they ever set foot on campus,” Foster explained. “For other students, it’s not something they’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about or planning for, and as they get ready to leave, it becomes apparent that they’re going to be managing their own finances.”

The group’s first event, which was on April 18 in MacMillan House’s living room, featured alumnus Emily Lao ’11. Lao, a financial wellness coach, spoke to a group of approximately 20 students, covering topics from budgeting to saving to negotiating salaries with employers and fielding questions throughout her presentation.

“She was really, really engaging—someone who I think would be great to come back,” said Dave Berlin ’19, the group’s vice president. “Especially for college students, it seems like something that would be really, really dry and uninteresting, but she made it really interesting.”

Next semester, the group plans on holding similar events and will begin emailing articles explaining aspects of personal finance to its members. Gluck and Berlin encourage anyone interested in joining to contact them.

Editor's note (Friday, 5/6/2016 at 2am): This article originally featured a sentence that was misidentified as a quote by Jessica Gluck '18. The quote attribution has been removed and the sentence has been clarified.