Why Students Should Have Personal Finance Skills Before Entering College

September 6, 2016
VMD Staff

Mike Chaddock, DVM, EML, associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, explains why veterinary students should have basic personal finance skills before entering college.

Mike Chaddock, DVM, EML, associate dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, explains why veterinary students should have basic personal finance skills before entering college.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Students, particularly veterinary students, when they graduate from college, all of a sudden find themselves having to start paying their debt back; it’s something that they really haven’t thought maybe a lot about before that happens. Yes, they’ve applied for loans, they’ve taken them out, and those loans that veterinary students take out are, I’m going to say, unfortunately, very easy to take out.

But, stop and think: why do these young people go to veterinary college? They want to be a veterinarian. Passion: you become a veterinarian because you love the profession, you certainly have an affinity to animals [and] into making animals healthy and well. What we need to do, I believe, is find a way that not only the students are learning and understanding the debt or the cost of education, but the families [are learning] this, too. I do think there’s a responsibility as students are looking at what they want to do, [to ask themselves] ‘what is that cost?’ and start comparing; do some shopping. What’s the cost of one school over another? What kind of courses are offered, maybe in this area? I think they also should take a look and make sure that they have some of these skills coming into veterinary school; we talked earlier about business skills.

Students coming in to veterinary college certainly have a responsibility to know a little bit about business coming in, personal finance is what I’m talking about. What does it cost to live? What does it cost to buy my groceries? What is a checkbook? What is a credit card? How do I reconcile my credit card statement? These are things that would be very, very helpful. Now, I’m not saying that none of them know how to do this, but I do think that if I were sending my son or daughter to school today, these are things that I would teach them at home, so that when they come to school and all of a sudden they’re faced with taking out a student loan, understanding the payment schedule, trying to understand the interest rates, that they have this knowledge coming in; that would be very, very helpful and that doesn’t only pertain to being a veterinarian, that just pertains to growing up.”