316 Alexander Street, Ste. 5 Marietta, GA 30060

Reality University


Reality U is a one-day financial literacy event – for students in high school and middle school – designed to help students understand some of the “realities” involved in preparing for an employable future and adulthood.  The goal is to learn about the correlation between fiscal well being, academic achievement, and financial literacy, all the while enabling students to understand some of the real life examples in preparing for future employment.

At Reality U, students are provided an Adult Scenario complete with marital status, number of children, occupation, and net monthly income. Students visit a variety of booths to “purchase” housing, transportation, communication services, child care, food, utilities, insurance, etc.

Volunteers are needed to run each booth. No experience or special skills necessary. Brief training provided at the event and then the fun begins!

Click here to view the flyer with the full schedule.


Please email Patty Yohn at pyohn@cismcc.org to schedule (flexible times available at each event).

Upcoming Reality University Dates:


During this event,  participating students are provided an occupation based on their educational plans after high school, their current GPA, and their desired career field. They complete Lifestyle Surveys prior to the event that provide an outline about the life they plan to have at age 26.

Before attending, the students receive their Lifestyle Surveys back along with their adult scenarios – complete with marital status, number of children, occupation, and net monthly income. Their net monthly income is based on the equivalent of the average monthly salary in the selected occupation at the age of 26.

The students have the opportunity to visit a variety of booths to purchase housing, transportation, communication services, child care, food, utilities, insurance, etc. They also have the opportunity to save money, give to charity and learn about unexpected things that affect daily life such as accidents and unexpected visitors. The students are given one hour to complete their Reality U session.

Tables are set up as various stations, with examples including a bank, car loans, housing, supermarket, shopping, entertainment, childcare, charity, an SOS table for government assistance, utilities, and so forth. The students utilize their surveys they previously filled out as a guideline.

Communities in Schools staff research and put real world dollars to the careers and provide each student with a net income, marital status, number of children, etc. The students are then required to visit each station to purchase housing, etc. on the budget they are given based on their chosen career. Many of the students soon realize they need to buy a less expensive car, get a roommate or have fewer children.

Rebecca Whicker, representative of Cobb County School District’s Success for All Students Program and Teen Center Board member and officer, said, “There is no doubt that the students walk away with new insight about staying in school, maintaining good grades, and a greater appreciation for what their parents struggle with on a daily basis. There is no better education than that!”

Meghan Wilson of Communities in Schools said, “The best part of Reality University is that the students make the connection between working hard in school and getting a good job so that they can live the kind of life they want.” Wilson also said, “Students have so much fun pretending to be adults, sometimes even married with children, while the community volunteers have a great time acting as realtors, car salesmen and insurance agents while helping students negotiate real-life choices.”

The Reality University program is funded totally by volunteer donations. The Kennesaw Dream Foundation Board, (dba the Kennesaw Teen Center), partners with Communities in Schools of Cobb/Marietta to present this program to the teens at the Center. Proponents of the program say that volunteers are crucial to ensure the success of Reality U in providing the necessary manpower and expert advice for the students to navigate through the experience.

Whicker says, “I feel safe in saying that the volunteers come away believing that this program should be part of every middle school curriculum. Itias truly an amazing thing to watch as the students begin to see what real life is actually like. It is awesome to see the light bulbs going off in the student’s heads.”

For information on hosting or volunteering for Reality University, contact: www.cismcc.org.

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