Top 12 Things a Graduate Should Know About ‘The Game of Life’

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Students spend their college years striving to meet the challenges of the workplace they will someday be entering. But not all students have a grasp of the more pragmatic matters they will no doubt face — from managing student loan debt to purchasing insurance, securing housing and even looking ahead to saving and investing their money.

Game of Life

Playing the Game of Life

With that in mind, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services teamed up with the Bursar and Student Accounts to organize an event recently at the Student Activities Center Ballroom that was based loosely on a popular board game known as “The Game of Life.” Titled “The Game of Life: After Stony Brook Edition,” the event was held just weeks before Friday’s graduation ceremonies and was set up with 12 tables that students visited to learn survival strategies for life after graduation.

According to Lyndsay Johnson, a financial advisor in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Services, 89 percent of the 127 student participants said they came away with new information and 92 percent of them said they found the game useful.

The organizers also wanted the event to raise student awareness about the University’s financial literacy program, Money Smart Seawolves,

“I thought the unexpected expenses aspect was realistic because most people live paycheck to paycheck,” said a student who completed an anonymous survey.

The event began with check-in at the registration table.  To start, students were given a “game board” and monthly salary based on their anticipated career following graduation.

The students then visited each table, much like moving a player piece around a game board.  The time spent at each table varied.  Some students were at each table for no more than two minutes while others spent up to 10 minutes learning and decision making.  Students engaged in conversations with a trained representative who encouraged them to make financial decisions once they were ready.

Students were also asked to pick a card during the game that led to their either being asked to make a small payment or collect money.  As a further challenge, when the students reached the credit and debt table they spun a wheel, which indicated an “unexpected event.”

Examples: Sorry to rain on your parade! You lost power from a storm and you need to restock your fridge. Pay $200. Although you don’t always sell your old stuff, when you do you make some money! Collect $200.  

Once the game was completed, participants visited the debriefing table, which featured volunteers in senior level positions from various offices on and off campus who discussed the student’s budget and identified areas of overspending and unrealistic expenses. Students who left the event with money were declared “winners” in “The Game of Life.”

The following departments and University organizations were also key players in the event: Accounting and Payroll, Alumni Relations, CAPS, Career Center, Division of Student Health Wellness and Prevention Services—Chill Peer Education, Faculty Student Association, Health Sciences and Office of Student Services. Businesses who participated included: Aetna, Island Federal Credit Union, Liberty Mutual, Novak Motors, NY, and Sallie Mae.

We pulled together the Top 12 Things Graduating Students need to know about “The Game of Life,” with photos from the day and based on the best advice shared with students.

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