Virginia high-school students are required to pass a one-credit course in economics and personal finance to graduate. Some also will receive college credit, thanks to a Longwood University dual-enrollment course that apparently is the only one of its kind among four-year colleges for this graduation requirement.

About 40 Henrico County high-school students are enrolled in a personal finance dual-enrollment course which satisfies the state mandated financial literacy requirement as well as earning Longwood course credit. The hybrid course will be taught from June 17-July 10 during the second summer school session.

"This will be a Longwood course, Personal Finance 250, with the same rigor and requirements that any Longwood student taking it would face," said Dr. Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate, who will teach the course.

Longwood is the only four-year Virginia college Waller knows of that is offering a dual-enrollment course for the high school economics and personal finance requirement. "The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is unaware of any other four-year college in Virginia offering a dual-enrollment course in ‘economics and personal finance,’" said Dr. Joe DeFilippo, SCHEV director of academic affairs and planning.

In the course, for which students will pay tuition, there will be one day of face-to-face instruction at Longwood and two days of face-to-face teaching at a Henrico high school, in addition to the online instruction. During a six-hour visit to Longwood on July 10, which Waller called the "culminating event," they also will meet with faculty and staff. The Longwood bus will pick them up and take them home.

"This is a pilot program," said Waller, chair of the Department of Accounting, Economics, Finance and Real Estate. "We plan to expand this and offer it to other Virginia school systems. I’m excited about what is a great opportunity for high school students and Longwood."

The course is part of the relationships that Longwood is building with Virginia high schools, said Waller. Dr. Glenn Dardick, director of Longwood’s Cyber Security Center, has started cyber security clubs in Hanover County high schools.

The graduation requirement for a one-credit economics and personal finance course for high-school students [Standard of Learning 6120] was approved by the 2009 General Assembly and became effective with entering ninth-graders in fall 2011. Most students take the course during their junior or senior year. The requirement seeks to "further the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for responsible citizenship in a constitutional democracy," according to the legislation that led to its creation.

"There is a glaring need for financial literacy education," said Waller. "This course has real-world applications—things that everybody will need throughout their life—and should be taught and retaught in high school and college."

Waller is confident that the high school students can handle a college-level course. "These are really good, motivated students, many of whom are in honors programs," he said.

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