Reality Store

What is the Reality Store?

The Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition Reality Storesm invites all 8th graders at Central and Northside Middle Schools to this real life simulation every in November. Reality Store has ran 24 consecutive years Reality Storesm in Bartholomew County.

Explore what life might be like in your chosen career path. Over 1,000 8th grade students will participate from the following schools:

  • Central Middle School
  • Columbus Christian Academy
  • Edinburgh Middle School
  • Hauser Middle School
  • Home School Academies
  • Northside Middle School
  • St. Bartholomew Catholic School
  • St. Peter’s Lutheran School
  • Whitecreek Lutheran School

“How does it work?”

In school, prior to the Reality Storesm, 8th grade students will take a Career Interest Inventory and will select an occupation based on the results of this test and their current GPA. At the Reality Storesm students receive a checkbook with an average month’s earnings for that occupation. The students get a “dose of reality” as they must spend their income on the necessities and luxuries they envision they need as part of their adult lives (age 28). The students will learn how much of their income they need for housing, utilities, groceries, childcare, transportation, etc. After the Reality Store, guidance counselors and teachers expand on what the students learned and provide assistance with selecting high school courses.

Reality Store Impact

These children are our future workforce. The Reality Store shows students the correlation between grades, careers choice and income. By providing a real world approach to what their lives might be like in the future students can start to make the needed changes to be successful in high school and beyond. The Reality Store experience provides a wakeup call for many students.


November 9, 2017 at Central Middle School

November 16, 2017 at Northside Middle School

Comments from Students

“My mom works two jobs, and I’m going to go home and be like, “Mom, I love you!” Central Middle School eighth grader.

I’m broke! I had to sell my house and get a junky car. I thought I would make a lot more and have a cushion.” Hauser eighth grader.

Comments from Guidance Counselors

“Our students consistently say that the Reality Store is one of the best learning experiences of 8th grade. They are often surprised about the real expenses of daily living and say that what they learned through Reality Store will influence their future choices.”

Sharon Williams Hanrattie, Guidance Counselor Central Middle School

“I believe the reality store is a real eye opener for our students. They really see how their success in school can affect their quality of living later on in life. Middle school students rarely think about how their efforts now can affect them in life and the Reality Store makes them do that.”

Scott Ousley, Guidance Counselor North Middle School

Teacher Comment

“They (students) usually talk about this experience for several weeks.” Hauser math teacher

How can I help?

It takes two days for all students to experience the Reality Store. It is made possible by financial donations and volunteer support from businesses and individuals. Please consider a donation to help with expenses or signing up to volunteer for a morning or afternoon session. We need 50 volunteers for each session.

  • Like to Volunteer - Register Here
  • Donations to support the Reality Store and the work of the Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition (BCFLC) can be mailed to:

Bartholomew County Financial Literacy Coalition

1531 Thirteenth Street; Suite 1100

Columbus, IN 47201

For more information regarding the Reality Store contact:

Written by kprather on Monday February 29, 2016
Permalink - Programs: Reality Store

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