Western Dubuque High School seniors took on the Real Life Academy, Feb. 5. The event puts students through the ringer of what it is like to be an adult. They face situations such as purchasing health care, auto insurance, buying a house and having kids, all with a budget to manage.

Students started their day by getting checkbooks and certain situations for their lives. From there, they had to find what exactly they could afford with their monthly incomes.

“The main thing that I took away from this is that life is expensive,” Curtis McGrane, WD senior said.

He added that there are many things that students do not think about for when they get older.

“When I was a student,” Jake Feldmann, Western Dubuque’s principal said, “one thing I wish that I would have known is how expensive having kids is. There are so many things that add up over the years.”

“I was really shocked at how expensive child care is,” McGrane said. “Luckily, I had a stay-at-home wife in my situation, so I did not have to pay any fees for that.”

Most high school students don’t have too many expenses, mainly just gas for their cars and entertainment. However, Feldmann believes that just going through this simulation helps from the moment they begin.

“When the students first go in,” Feldmann said, “I’m not sure they know what they are doing. But then they get in and realize what’s happening.”

After this academy every year, students provide feedback on what they thought of the simulation. Feldmann said that the majority of students enjoy this and take a lot from the exercise.

“I just want these students to have an understanding of what real life is like,” Feldmann said, “realizing what one month will look like. When these students ask their parents for $20, I want them to know what the effect is.”

“This was very useful because it will help me down the road,” McGrane added. “I appreciate that WD does this for us. It allows us to make our bad decisions now so that we can succeed later in life.”

Western Dubuque has been hosting Real Life Academy for the better part of two decades now. It helps prepare students for what the next step in life is like, and the students benefit from it in the long run.