Attending University and Learning Financial Literacy with help from Enactus and Capital One


It didn’t surprise me when Noah decided to go to Memorial University.

When he was six years old, we went for a walk along the “Motion” trail…a beautiful spot just around the corner from where my grandparents had their home in Torbay. A spot that’s near and dear to my heart.

As the waves crashed against the island cliffs and into the “pit” below, and the cool breeze blew around us, my son stood there with arms outstretched and declared it was the most amazing place in the world.

Several years later, in 2014, Noah was in Newfoundland for the Memorial Cup Tournament…a high school tournament his team had travelled from Halifax to play in.

Throughout the tournament, dozens of family members came to the games. Meeting him outside of the dressing room, they handed him babies, hugged him, cheered him on and gave him cookies baked for the team…I could see his amazement and bafflement over all of the attention. Despite not really knowing these people well – some he barely remembered – he really felt their love.

When it came time to look into going to university, Noah discussed the potential of attending Memorial. While I was happy for him, I was concerned about how far away he’d be.

The distance is a challenge, but I’m so happy he has this opportunity to get to know this place I call “home.” Along with the fact that he’s attending one of the best business programs in Canada, Noah has an opportunity that many people never get the chance to have. While he didn’t grow up in the same province as so many of his relatives, he now has the great privilege of getting to know people he’s only heard about (some he spent a bit of time with when they visited us in Halifax, others he only met as a little boy).

A whole new world is about to embrace my son and I’m simply delighted for him. As he begins this new adventure, moving on to the next phase in his life, he’s greeted with open arms.

In fact, just the very night he arrived, there was a gathering and a cake to celebrate his 18th birthday – three of his little cousins were eager to help blow out the candles.

Finances and Post-Secondary Education:

While I’m not surprised Noah chose to go to MUN, we quickly had to talk about the costs involved. While MUN has one of the lowest tuitions in Canada, there’s still residence, a meal plan, books, travel, dorm room outfitting and many other things to consider when attending university.

Post-secondary students may be prepared for their required curriculum this fall, but quite often they’re completely unprepared for the costs associated with attending university, and have very little understanding of finances as a whole.

In July 2016, Capital One Canada conducted a survey among 1,523 randomly selected Canadian adults and determined the following stats:

  • 46 per cent felt unprepared to manage their finances as they entered post-secondary education
  • 83 per cent think there is not enough financial education in the school system and that financial education should start in elementary school
  • Three out of four wished they started learning how to manage their money at an earlier age
  • One out of two indicated that they’re uncomfortable talking about their finances
  • 72 per cent of 18-25 year olds wish it were more socially acceptable to talk about money
  • 41 per cent did not talk about money with their parents while they were growing up

“In order to build a basic comfort level with finances, we need to begin stripping away the taboo that most Canadians associate with it,” says Nathalie Clark, Managing Vice President, Capital One Canada.

Capital One Financial Education Challenge:

Enactus Canada is the country’s largest student leadership development organization dedicated to inspiring students to improve people’s livelihoods through entrepreneurial action. Enactus Canada provides a platform for post-secondary students to create projects that advance the economic, social and environmental health of Canada.

At post-secondary institutions around the world, Enactus participants create projects and compete in an annual series of regional, national and international competitions.

The Capital One Financial Education Challenge is one of four challenges in the Canadian Enactus regional and national competitions. Teams from across the country present projects that most effectively use financial education and/or inclusion to empower people to improve their lives in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable way.

In April, the Enactus team at Simon Fraser University became the National winner of the Capital One Financial Education Challenge for their Count on Me project.

Through their project, Enactus SFU directly impacted 41 disadvantaged youth, empowering them with the tools necessary to build their own secure and fulfilling futures.

At the same National competition, the Enactus Memorial team was the overall winner with their project SucSeed. Enactus Memorial provided microloans, financial literacy training and economic opportunities to fresh produce growers in rural Labrador.

They worked with the engineering department to develop a hydroponic system made out of recycled materials. They also partnered with a local charity for at-risk youth to build the systems, providing employment opportunities and compensation.

The Enactus Memorial team will head back to Toronto this week where they will compete at the Enactus World Cup.

To learn about what other student teams are doing across the country, check out a video series here.

Teaching our Kids:

The Memorial and Simon Fraser Enactus teams, along with many other teams across Canada, are doing their part to build financial literacy in their communities. But we all have much to do to open the dialogue in our homes and educate our children on managing finances – this includes teaching them how to budget, save, invest and set goals for their futures.

We asked Curtains are Open readers about the most important financial lesson they’ve learned and they offered the following advice:

“I think the most important lesson I learned was to invest in myself: I found my passion, I found my educational program and I put the time, effort and money into building a career from nothing. No one can take your education from you.”  – Ashley

“Always have a ‘dream fund’ because if you’re living right, opportunities will come and you always want to be able to just say ‘yes’!” – Erin

“Begin investing early. Invest $10/month if that’s all you have.” – Tina

So, I’ve sent my son off to school “sort of” knowing about finances – he knows how much everything costs and how we’re paying for it. Nonetheless, there’s so much more I haven’t taught him…in fact, there’s likely lots I need to learn as well.

It’s my hope that he’ll learn a great deal from his Business program and maybe even join a group like Enactus – a program that’s dedicated to educating students and improving the future.

Noah is facing new adventures and challenges – and with a lot of support, he’s going to come out enriched with new knowledge that will help him in the years to come.

As an added bonus, he’s doing it all while surrounded by family, in one of the most amazing places in the world.

Disclosure: I’ve partnered with Capital One to help support Enactus and talk about Financial Literacy. As always, the opinions in this post are my own.