The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' student board of directors program offers high school seniors a dynamic way to learn about our nation's central bank. Participants gain a thorough understanding of the Federal Reserve's role in the U.S. economy and experience its unusual partnership with banks, businesses and the community. St. Louis-area students are selected based on the quality of their essay and letters of recommendation.
Read more about the student board of directors program and how to nominate a student.
(The application process for the 2017-2018 student board is closed; stay tuned for details for the 2018-2019 application process.)
The video below originally appeared in the essay For Better or Worse, Your Decisions Matter, from our 2016 annual report. It features members of our student board of directors talking about the preparation they've received from the St. Louis Fed to make better decisions.
Below is a full transcript of this video. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability. Links within the transcript are to our online resources and other information as indicated.
Narrator: The St. Louis Fed’s student board of directors program offers high school seniors a dynamic way to learn about our nation’s central bank. During their monthly visits to the Fed, members gain a thorough understanding of the Federal Reserve’s role in the U.S. economy, participate in online and in-person learning, and engage with employees in various roles throughout the Bank. We recently asked a handful of our student board members to talk about their experience with economics and personal finance before and after joining the board. They shared some unique perspectives, including how the St. Louis Fed’s Econ Lowdown learning series helped to teach them many important basics tied to economic literacy.
Maria Hyrc: Before I started being on the Federal Reserve Student Board of Directors, I had taken a personal finance class at school and I took economics as well, but I didn’t really realize all the nuances of economics and finance, and I wasn’t really as aware of everything that goes into it. And I think being at the Federal Reserve and seeing sort of the ins and outs of the system actually working in place was really powerful.
Ben Carlson: I never took, like, any economics classes or personal finances, so I kind of just knew that there was an importance to it all, but I didn’t fully understand why it was important and the impact it has on your life.
Amanda Meyer: For me, the importance wasn’t exactly clear until I started taking those classes of economics and personal finance and then being on the Board. And after taking them, I really do see the importance of it. It’s something that I think should almost be required of high schools, because it’s knowledge that helps you make many decisions, both in your life and as being able to judge policies that the government makes and especially in the political world these days to understand what they’re actually saying and how their policies will impact you as a consumer are really important for you to know. We learned about both credit and then forecasting your college expenses and how that is a great investment, but how you also need to be aware of your post-education salary expenses and things like that, and I think that lesson was really helpful for us, because we need to understand how decisions we make now can affect us in our future. Especially with credit.
Egzona Ramushi: Yeah. I agree. I think that was one of the most important things we learned. Because I mean, we are all seniors and heading out to college, so we don’t want to be, like, in debt for the rest of our lives.
Maria Hyrc: For me, all of the different types of credit were sort of all jumbled around in my head until I was able to take the course and that really clarified for me how diverse credit is, but also all the benefits and risks that it has.
Amanda Meyer: And how they all work together and how they all impact each other was a big thing for me, too.
Maria Hyrc: And I have a lot of friends who sort of in their transition to, I guess, high school or adulthood and gaining a little bit more financial responsibility got their first credit card and discover that’s a lot easier to spend plastic than it is to spend cash and fell on some tough times because they spent more money than they had and then had to find a way to pay it all back.
Ben Carlson: The most recent one we’ve taken was called Credit Cred, and it explained to us, like, what is credit. I went into this not having very much financial background, so it’s eye opening to see what is credit, and how credit works, different types of credit cards, and how everything you do could effect your credit negatively or positively.
Maria Hyrc: We’ve also taken GDP and Pizza and The Story of Unemployment, which sort of talked about these larger macroeconomic concepts, really explaining the difference between just unemployment versus labor force participation rate, as well as what GDP is, how it’s adjusted year by year, and those are numbers that get thrown around a lot in the news, but a lot of people don’t fully understand them, so they’re really helping me to process, I guess, all the information that’s coming out more clearly.
Ben Carlson: People our age, they don’t know much about finance. So when they hear that, “Oh, you sit on the Student Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank,” to them, that’s just like a bunch of, like-
Egzona Ramushi: Gibberish.
Ben Carlson: Yeah. Gibberish. Like, oh, that sounds smart kind of thing.
Amanda Meyer: They just don’t understand how economics plays into their life, and how important it is for them to understand. They just don’t realize that learning about credit, and me trying to explain credit to them, it might really help them in the very close future.
Maria Hyrc: I think it’s funny that you say that so many students aren’t really considered with their finance classes, because of all the classes you take in high school it seems that personal finance is going to be one that’s the most immediately useful.
Amanda Meyer: Yeah.
Maria Hyrc: And for me, I think I loved my economics classes and my personal finance class, and I think one of the reasons that they were so effective is that my economics teacher actually used some of the Fed’s materials in order to teach economics, and that really helped solidify some of the concepts that he was teaching us.
Egzona Ramushi: At my school we’re only required to take personal finance for a semester. And so when I got into the Fed and we had to do our presentations for class, no one knew, like, what I was talking about. They had so many questions. We worked with partners. I actually worked with Maria. We had to give a presentation on the structure and function of the Fed and how it related to everything and just explaining what the Fed was and its job. And a lot of my classmates, they had a lot of questions afterwards, and they just wanted to know, like, more and how it worked.
Maria Hyrc: So I think that goes to show that students are interested, it’s just a lot of times they might need the resources and the people to show them what the Fed is and what it does. I think economics for a lot of students can often seem really dry just because it’s just drawing axis and then putting spaghetti on the axis and then trying to make sense of it. But a lot of the Fed’s programs really do put that real world scenario into economics and help aid understanding.
Narrator: If you know a student who might be interested in applying to the St. Louis Fed’s student board of directors program, visit stlouisfed-[dot]-org-[slash]-student board of directors. To view some of the resources that our student members highlighted here – from online courses to videos, podcasts and more – visit econ lowdown-[dot]-org.