Entrepreneurship, budgeting, and how to finance college

IMG_5063Last month, we had a great day of discussion on personal finance and entrepreneurship with nearly 400 amazing students from girls’ schools in Honolulu.  We ran three interactive sessions designed to introduce students to the topics of budgeting, learning how to finance college, and understanding the purposes and functions of the Fed.   The day was capped off with a panel discussion on entrepreneurial leadership.

Students from Honolulu’s La Pietra and Saint Andrew’s Priory joined their peers at Sacred Hearts Academy for the day, supported in part by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools (NCGS).

Manage your money.  Don’t let it manage you.

Our session on personal finance stressed the importance of creating a budget, as well as the need to understand investment options, risk, and rates of return.  Young people need to be proactive instead of reactive with their money.   We used a modified version of this lesson plan during the session; feel free to download it and use it in your own classroom.

Discover what you’re passionate about and talk about it.  Have your elevator pitch ready!

During the session on how to finance college, students learned organizational strategies for the scholarship hunt, as well as tips for the application and interview processes. An important part of the scholarship process is tailoring each application to the organization or group giving the scholarship.  Also important is nailing an ‘elevator pitch,’ or a short, eloquent description of one’s background, interests, and plans for the future that can be delivered in the time it takes to go up an elevator in a tall office building.

Students also watched a short video recorded by Yale undergrad Joel Bervell, who collected over $200,000 in scholarships by his senior year of high school.  He encouraged students to think broadly and creatively about finding money for school.  Our presentation on how to finance college, and Joel’s video, is available online here.

Are entrepreneurs born or cultivated?

The afternoon panel on entrepreneurial leadership centered around the need to discover one’s interests, set realistic goals, and constantly pursue improvement.

Participants included Susan Yamada, founding CEO of TRUSTe and Executive Director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the University of Hawaii’s Shidler College of Business; Lauren Ellis, founder and lead wedding coordinator at Aloha Bridal Connections; and Kimo Carvalho, Chairman of the Board at Envision Hawaii and Development and Community Relations Manager at the Institute for Human Services (IHS).

“Take the time to discover who you are, what you like and don’t like,” said Yamada.  “It’s not an encouragement to wander, but you need to figure out what your goals are and how to do that.”  Carvalho added, “I keep raising my bar.  After hitting one goal, you set another, higher one.”  Ellis emphasized her focus on maintaining relationships: “You’ll never have it all figured out.  Listen to others’ ideas, learn, and ask questions.  It’s only going to increase your knowledge.”

The entrepreneurship panel participants tied many of the day’s lessons together.  All three stressed the need for taking calculated risks and staying involved in business and personal relationships, both creatively and intellectually.

For students’ reactions to the event, read this article in Sacred Hearts Academy’s online newspaper.

Interested in more perspective from inspirational young entrepreneurs?  Watch these videos on our YouTube channel from an event in Los Angeles last year.

Tell us:  Do you think entrepreneurs are born or cultivated?  What strategies do you use to teach personal finance?

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