Battle high school students compete in a money stacks college game show

Students from Columbia’s Battle High School compete in a Money Stacks college game show, which teaches about financial literacy while paying for college.

Students from Battle High School filled Bixby Lecture Hall Wednesday. These ninth graders are part of a Columbia Public Schools program called AVID, Advancement via Individual Determination, a college and career readiness program.

As part of the college preparatory portion of the program, students attend colleges around state of Missouri. For these Battle High School students, they attend Columbia College in their freshman year. They then go on to attend schools in Kansas City, St. Louis and the University of Missouri in subsequent years.

Since these students, as freshman, are just beginning to explore college opportunities, one of the questions that looms largest can be how to pay for an education.

To answer questions about paying for college, Columbia College’s Student Success Office offers a financial literacy program, called Money Stacks, which helps advise not only current students, but also prospective college students – whether or not they attend Columbia College – about saving and making smart financial decisions when paying for college.

Through an interactive game show format, students divided into four teams, each competing for the top prize. Students were asked to complete “minute-to-win-it” competitions. Those who successfully completed a task within the minute time frame received “free aid” in the form of a grants or scholarships. However, those who did not successfully complete their task took on debt in the form of college loans.

One such challenge, asks a contestant to stack hex nuts on top of each other:

A crowd of more than 40 students sat quietly, each cheering the student on, quietly, as she tried to stack the hex nuts on top of one another. Encouraging words such as “you go girl!” and “you got this” were whispered by those watching, literally sitting on the edge of their auditorium seats.

These ninth grade students cheered each other on and were genuinely excited for each other with each correct answer or successfully completed challenge. That camaraderie – and lessons learned about financial literacy – will serve these students well as they move ahead in their college and career preparation.