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Students learn career and financial skills with Illinois Extension and 4-H

Students gather around a tba

GILMAN, Ill. — Nearly 200 students from Central, Donovan, Milford, Iroquois West, and Watseka high schools met at Iroquois West High School on September 20, 2023, for a Welcome to the Real World Simulation. The simulation is the culminating event of the Welcome to the Real World Curriculum, a program developed by University of Illinois Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H educators. The curriculum is a hands-on experience that utilizes fact sheets to help youth explore careers and finances and make daily lifestyle and spending choices in situations faced in adulthood.

“Financial literacy is one of the most requested subjects from schools and community organizations,” says Family and Consumer Sciences Educator Emily Harmon. “In today’s world, financial education is crucial, which is why there’s been so much excitement from schools, volunteers, and more that we’ve recontinued this program.”

In the Welcome to the Real World simulation, students assume they have completed the basic educational requirements for their chosen career, are employed, are twenty-five years of age, and are independent with no financial support from family or others. During the simulation, participants select a career or occupation they would like to pursue. After they choose an occupation, they receive a monthly salary for that occupation. They then proceed through the Real World activity, deducting taxes, determining a savings amount, paying a student loan (if applicable), and spending their salary on their lifestyle choices.

“It gave them a better perspective of what it’s like to live in the real world,” said Watseka High School Assistant Principal Erika Sterrenberg. “It gives them a greater appreciation, hopefully, for what their parents do for them, but also prepares them for after they graduate. I was so excited to see that they brought it back.”

To learn more about Welcome to the Real World or other offerings from the Family and Consumer Sciences or 4-H teams, contact Emily Harmon at or Myla Munro at For more information about Illinois Extension in Ford and Iroquois Counties, contact our office at 815-268-4058.

Source: Emily Harmon, Family Consumer Sciences Educator,

Myla Munro, Ford-Iroquois Counties 4-H Youth Development Educator,

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.