Wisdom From Our Alumni

The Spectator surveyed alumni on how well Stuyvesant prepared them for handling real-world finances. The results are clear: a lack of education in financial literacy has been and continues to be a problem for Stuyvesant students.

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In order to assess the extent to which Stuyvesant prepares its students for managing their own finances in the real world, The Spectator asked alumni about their financial experiences after high school and how much they learned about personal finance at Stuyvesant. The unanimous decision among alumni clearly indicates that Stuyvesant lacks the resources necessary for college-bound students to understand or even recognize vital aspects of financial literacy. According to the data gathered, Stuyvesant did not effectively prepare students to independently manage their finances and gave little to no information on topics relating to personal finance. Ninety-two percent of the alumni surveyed reported that Stuyvesant taught them nearly nothing about the basic elements of personal finance, and a majority ranked their financial preparation coming out of high school at a one out of 10. The overwhelming consensus among alumni was that Stuyvesant needs to play a more involved role in educating its students on these important topics so that they can be better equipped for life after graduation. Especially since many Stuyvesant students come from first generation families or are first generation immigrants themselves, the need for a financial literacy class is greater than ever before.

“If it doesn’t exist at Stuy yet, there should be a required financial literacy class. It’s critical.” —Ali Dib (’89)

“I just finished paying for my student loans. I had to learn how to manage my budget while in college, as I put textbooks on credit cards and only paid minimum payment for a couple of years before realizing I was basically paying interest and not much toward what I owe to get my balance back down faster. My parents were immigrants, so really, they weren't savvy with the financial matters themselves. In NJ where I live now, financial literacy is a class that is required for graduation, and I'm happy my kids have to take it.” —May Chan (’90)

“I most definitely misused credit. Got to the point where I had to declare bankruptcy back in ‘13. Currently, I'm living comfortably on a fixed income, primarily due to my keeping a spreadsheet showing exactly what my financial situation is on a daily basis, month-to-month and even with yearly comparisons.” —Daniel Gersten (’63)

“The little I learned was presented in a dry, academic manner rather than tangible things a young adult could use. For example, I didn't know that the cost of college textbooks could be used for a tax write-off. But I know how to calculate monthly payments on a mortgage, for some reason. Before you make a new class devoted to this, you have to realize that juniors/seniors won't take anything that's not AP or ‘good for college.’ But I support the effort nonetheless.” —Max Zlotskiy (’18)

“I think I had no financial literacy and wasn't aware of how important or necessary it was until after graduating college. In my senior year I took Economics but the class didn't help me connect with the real world and my real life. It’d be great if there was a Stuy class dedicated to everything you gotta know about taxes [that] just put information on any kind of loans in an easy to understand way that's relevant to the current world. Also, I feel very behind [compared to] my peers who studied business-related majors in college (I studied civil engineering) in terms of my knowledge of investing and stocks because the vocabulary is hard to follow along and I do not feel like I have real life skills in a financial sense at the age of 22—half a decade after graduating [from] Stuy. Would be awesome if Stuy kids leave high school more prepared for the real world than me.” —Anonymous (’17)

“I still don’t fully understand how to do taxes and was especially confused about withholdings information my freshman year of college. [A Personal Finance class] would have been a lot more helpful than taking classes like jewelry design and drafting. I’m a business major in college and even though [...] we learned about interest rates [in finance class], there was no class covering any other area of personal finance. I guess we were just expected to learn about these things on our own. The Internet is a good place to start but it’s difficult to know who to turn to when we have questions. I can’t really think of a course in Stuy that taught me valuable skills in life but personal finance could definitely be helpful.” —Anonymous (’19)

“[I’ve experienced] credit card debt, not knowing how to manage my money when I won a lawsuit and had a windfall, and ending up in bankruptcy. The only class I had that even touched on finances was economics, and all I remember from that is supply and demand and that my teacher talked about his daughter.” —Eryka Peskin (’92)