University of Houston

At the University of Houston, Simone Doudna and Frank Kelley each work within their colleges to promote financial education to their students. Using a variety of programming and courses, students are able to learn about personal finance in a number of ways, and at a variety of depths.

At the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, Kelley serves as associate dean of Undergraduate Business Programs. The college offers several different ways to engage in financial education, ranging from workshops to an academic track.

“We hired a professor to teach a personal financial planning course. In addition, we developed a series of courses and a track within the Finance major for personal financial planning. The track even fulfills the education requirements for the  CFP® Certification Examination administered by the College of Financial Planning.”

The college utilizes students who are involved in the academic track to provide workshops to other students. This gives the students experience with giving presentations while also sharing essential financial education with other students.

Much like the introduction to personal finance course in the Bauer College of Business, Doudna has taught a financial education component into two courses—developed through exploratory studies, and one as a professional development course in the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Doudna, who serves as instructional assistant professor in the college, says that financial education was a key component that they recently incorporated.

“For two years, the professional development curriculum committee collaborated to ensure we have the most innovative program with 21 st century skills for our students. Financial literacy was one of the resonating themes.”

Doudna was introduced to CashCourse by Kelley earlier this year, and shared that it has been helpful amidst the university transitioning to virtual learning.

“I gained access to CashCourse just before spring break, and we never came back to campus. [CashCourse] was such a godsend because it is all online and I was able to deliver all the content and monitor the progress online. Even without the global [COVID-19] pandemic, online learning is certainly one of the trends of the future of education. It worked out well with students, and there were wonderful responses from students because it is self-paced and they can be selective in the topics that are impactful to their personal financial empowerment. [CashCourse] has been very adaptable in both courses.”

Doudna utilizes digital badging to promote financial education to students, as well. “CashCourse is promoted as a digital badge, and our software integrates with LinkedIn… we market it to students by making it something that is not only relevant to themselves, but also to their marketability in the workplace with the goal that it will be integrated on their LinkedIn profiles.”

With a student population of 46,000, not every student takes classes in personal finance. Kelley shares that the Bauer College of Business has struggled to garner general student interest without a dedicated money management center, like some other large Texas schools have. To prevent financial education from being siloed in the College of Business, Kelley has worked with the University of Houston’s libraries to promote financial education resources on the library’s website.

“There is a direct link to CashCourse on this resource page. All of the links are governmental or nonprofit, so there’s no hidden agenda.”

Financial education is also promoted to students through a variety of programs throughout the university, such as the Emerging Leaders Academic Success Program for freshmen, which incorporates a financial literacy workshop. Each year, the University also brings over two thousand middle and high school students from the surrounding area to campus. Students learn about personal finance through programs such as the Texas Reality Check and the Stars of Tomorrow Excellence Program.

Kelley says, “We’re trying to reach students earlier, because many students do not go to college because…they may not know the resources available to them. We have grants and loans, but students do not know the process. It’s critical for us to get the next generation of first-generation students into a pipeline of financial empowerment early.”

Kelley emphasizes that his College prefers the term financial empowerment, which gives this work and education a positive connotation. Both Kelley and Doudna shared their belief that financial education is critical to student success. Doudna says, “I do not think it is possible to learn as effectively when you have obstacles as a student such as financial constraints.” Both Doudna and Kelley share an inspiring mission to empower their students while they are enrolled and prepare them for life post-college.

April 2020