In response to a survey in the fall of 2016, North Park University students sent a clear message: they wanted more financial education resources on campus. Evie Peterson, the career programs manager at North Park, used this feedback to guide the school’s first campus-wide financial education initiative. Her starting steps included learning more from students and getting faculty buy-in.
“We have taken a very basic approach to see how students would engage with online financial literacy this semester,” Peterson says. “In January, we sent out an email to faculty explaining the initiative and asked if any were willing to have us come to a class and introduce students to CashCourse and our deep-dive workshops.”
Working with faculty gave Peterson an invaluable chance to connect with students, and she took these opportunities to advertise the school’s financial education offerings while asking students about their interests.
“During these classroom visits, I would walk students through CashCourse and show them how to create an account. We also poll students during these classroom visits. We ask them what they want to learn about money,” Peterson says.
Adjusting her programming as needed through open communication with students has been key to Peterson’s success.
Peterson explains, “This feedback helped guide our programming. Each month has had a financial theme. February was about credit and credit cards. We had students do the CashCourse credit quiz and be entered in a raffle for an Amazon gift card. Each month they would have a new opportunity to be entered into a raffle by doing a CashCourse quiz.”
Beyond classroom visits, Peterson worked to build partnerships with groups that have a shared interest in financial education. For instance, she worked with the Commuter Association to reach their students at a weekly event.
“We have tried to be creative on collaborating with groups on campus beyond faculty. We asked ourselves what groups could also benefit from this work and tried to collaborate with pre-existing events. For instance, we partnered with the Commuter Association at their weekly coffee and bagels hour. I provided food and gave a 15-20 minute presentation on money management. That relationship has been really good and we hope to continue the same opportunity next year,” Peterson says.
She also made sure to highlight financial education at other campus-wide events.
“We also worked with campus counseling services during their ‘Sleep Week’ – it’s a week where they highlight the importance of sleep and tips for college students,” Peterson says. “I set up a booth there with a sign reading ‘Losing Sleep over Money?’ and had our resources on display.”
Peterson has focused on word-of-mouth marketing and her department’s network of students.
“We are smaller school with about 1900 students. Relationship capital is crucial when it comes to marketing. We literally go around and talk to students and just let them know about events. We had some faculty provide extra credit if students participated in our events. Students would see posters or hear peers talking about it and would stop by,” she explains.
North Park University was a spring 2017 recipient of the CashCourse Reimbursement Program. Peterson credits this additional funding as essential to incentivizing events and for providing the unique opportunity to learn from other schools across the nation.
“I am so thankful we have been able to be part of the reimbursement program to have funds to be able to do things. We have been really thankful for that program and the check-in piece and hearing from other people on what they are doing and how they are approaching this,” says Peterson.
Peterson stresses their programming is centered on the student and that student input is crucial to effective outreach.
Peterson says, “Get student input right away! We see that if students don’t understand what you’re trying to do or don’t feel that it applies to them, it’s not going to pay off.”
By frequently polling students, Peterson has been able to keep the program relevant and adaptive to her campus’ needs.