Why High School Students Should Develop Investing in Themselves as a Life-Long Habit

What do you think of when you hear the word “investment”? Most likely, you’ll think of the ones involving money like real estate or the stock market.

That’s probably what students think too, but investing doesn’t always have to be about money. And at this point in life, it most likely wouldn’t be applicable even if they learn how to save money fast.

What they can do is improve on their skills and maybe even pick up new ones along the way.

The biggest lesson you can give them: Education is an investment

And here, their most important resource is time. That’s why it’s also important for them to discover time management strategies that would work for them.

When I say education, I just don’t mean formal education. Everything that can help them learn and improve would be considered education.

Let’s say, with straightening out your finances. I can’t imagine anyone how you can learn that if you don’t have an income source.

Money and time spent on education will reward you later on.

3 questions to answer in helping them decide which investments are worth it

Ideally, the answer would be YES to all three. But if that isn’t the case, you can use this part to help the students choose which investments to prioritize.

QUESTION #1. Would it help with their college application?

The job market’s only getting tougher. And you can give them a head start on their future competition by helping them get into a good college.

Whether we’re talking volunteering at a food bank or brushing up on their communication skills, everything they can do to get into the college of their choice is an investment.

By answering this question, you can give them recommendations that would help them come college application season. You can introduce opportunities that would look good on their application, or even connect with local businesses, charities, and organizations to open up volunteer work or internships.

QUESTION #2. Would it help them in the field of study they want?

For example, a great sketch artist can branch out to digital art. Someone who wants to study computer science can get started by learning basic HTML and moving up from there.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

By engaging them in activities that are going to be useful when they get to college, the transition won’t be so hard. They can easily get ahead because not everything is new to them.

And with the advantage of having more time to learn new skills and to process new concepts, college won’t be as stressful.

QUESTION #3. Do they enjoy it?

By pushing them to go beyond the four corners of the classroom, you’re nurturing their interests.

The idea here is to give them some agency to figure out these interests for themselves. So when they get into college, they can focus their energy on what they want instead of using it as a time to explore.

According to Forbes, most US colleges right now are test-optional. Although it’s mostly because of COVID, this means that the top colleges aren’t just looking for the smartest students to join their programs.

They’re looking for well-rounded people who can contribute to the diversity on their campus.

So if one student who wants to be an architect enjoys playing the piano, encourage them! And advise those students to put their whole heart into it.

Help them discover their most valuable asset: themselves

Just like investing in the stock market won’t make you rich overnight, creating a paradigm shift that education and skills-development are an investment won’t happen overnight either. 

But you can move them to that realization by:

  • Creating a relationship between the investment and what they want to achieve. Point out how this specific investment (say, doing volunteer work or extra credit) would help them.
  • Encouraging them to improve one of their existing skills because they’re probably using that skill already. That means build on strengths and help create wins! 
  • Empowering them. This is the most important for me.

If the students believe that they have control over their success, they see themselves as valuable assets. 

Leif Kristjansen is the co-founder of FiveYearFIREescape.com where he and his wife write about finances and early retirement for busy people. In their early 30s, they even retired from their corporate 9-5 and want to teach you how you can do the same. They have kids and a house in a high cost of living city but managed to succeed via saving skills and rental houses.