Smitha Students Face Reality in Reality U!

Communities in Schools put Smitha Middle School eighth graders through the paces in their “adulting” simulation, Reality U!

Reality U is a one-hour simulation that provides students with the opportunity to practice money management for one month’s expenses as a typical 26-year-old. The students make decisions about home and car ownership, insurance coverage, student loan payments, groceries, and much more!

A group of eighth grade students gathered on the floor of the indoor gym at Smitha Middle School, surrounded by tables with large signs behind them reading, “Car Insurance,” “Child Care,” and “Home Ownership,” among others.  Each student clutched a piece of paper with their fictional new personality printed on it, including their monthly income.  As Executive Director of Communities in Schools, Natalie Rutledge, gave final directions to the students, the excitement and anticipation grew.  These students were finally going to try their hands at “adulting.” 


Reality U is a one-hour simulation created by Communities in Schools that provides students with the opportunity to practice money management over a fictional month-long period.  In the days before the simulation begins, students fill out a lifestyle survey, which then creates a unique, fictional 26-year-old life for each student.  Some students are married, some divorced, some single.  Some have children, others do not.  Some have large student loan debt, others pay child support, and all students have a defined credit score based on their answers to the survey.  These print outs, which include each student’s monthly take home pay, are what they use to get through one month of bills, purchases, and payments without breaking the bank. 

 For the simulation to run smoothly, community volunteers man booths for each type of expense.  The students rotate through the booths to make all their payments and purchases for the month.  These booths include purchasing or renting housing, purchasing cars or buying bus passes, buying insurance, paying for phones and recreation, buying groceries, paying for childcare, and much more!  The volunteers present the students with their options and help them make decisions based on their fictional lifestyle and income.  Students who find they need more support can visit the “Q & A” booth to get the financial guidance they need. 

 When the simulation ended, Communities in Schools’ Programs Coordinator, Shayla Jones, asked the students to summarize their experience with the group.  The number one take away?  “Children are expensive!”  

For more information please click the following link:

Laura Franco
Title I District Academic Coach – Social St

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