High school students at Cavalier Public School in Cavalier, N.D., who were considering skipping college and going straight into the job market are probably having second thoughts now.
After taking part in a recent "real-life fair" organized by two vocational education teachers at the K-12 school, most now know just how hard it can be to live on a budget.
"You can't make it on minimum wage," said Sandy Peterson, one of the two teachers who organized the activity as part of a career fair for students.
Before the event, the students researched career categories and chose the areas that best suited them. Based on those choices, each student was given a monthly income that he or she might expect to make, ranging from about $1,200 to about $2,200.
The students then stopped at 10 stations, where they had to make choices about expenses such as college loans, housing, food, utilities, furniture, and clothing. And each student was required to put 10 percent of his or her earnings into savings.
Car shopping was also part of the exercise. Parked outside the school were nine vehicles on loan from local dealerships. After eyeing the shiny new cars, many students realized that in order to make ends meet, they would need to opt for a cheaper, used one, Ms. Peterson said.
"A lot of the students said, 'I realize now what my parents go through,'" Ms. Peterson said. "Real life is expensive."
Last month, Brillion, Wis., business owners Bob and Pat Endries offered the local school system $4 million to pay for a school auditorium, provided that residents passed a bond by May 1 to build a new high school.
Residents will now get a chance to accept the gift next spring. The seven-member school board voted unanimously this month to put an estimated $13 million bond issue on a ballot in March. The proceeds would pay for a 400-student high school and auditorium.
The couple's offer would cover the roughly $2.4 million construction cost for the auditorium as well as interest on the debt.
Brillion's 3,000 residents voted down a bond last May for a new elementary school and auditorium. But that was before the Endries' offer.
The couple, who own three local businesses that employ more than 500 people, understand the town's need for a school, having seen local school enrollment grow from 770 students to 878 since 1990.
--LINDA JACOBSON & ROBERT C. JOHNSTON