Waverly High School seniors spent Thursday participating in an exercise to learn what expenses they will encounter as they enter adulthood and begin to live independently.

Visions Federal Credit Union brought the "Life is a Reality" workshop to the school Thursday in partnership with the Career Development Council. Students attended 16 stations staffed by credit union employees in the school's library and learned the true cost of maintaining their lifestyles.

Students prepared for the workshop by researching their career choices and determining an entry-level salary realistic to what one would earn in the Waverly area, said Colleen Barton, the credit union's youth educator and marketing coordinator.

Taxes and social security deductions were then removed from that figure, giving students a net monthly income to work with. The students were shocked to see the difference between the two figures, said social studies teacher Mary Ann Gray, whose economics classes took part in the exercise. "It's a reality check," Gray said.

Students then visited the stations, each representing an expense students will face upon living independently. The expenses included loans, savings and retirement funds, charitable contributions, entertainment, housing, utilities, furniture, groceries, insurance and other items.

Some teachers allow the students to reduce their living expenses by finding roommates, Barton said, but Gray required her students to live alone.

One station featured a wheel spun by students to generate a random event, representing life's unexpected occurrences. The wheel included unplanned deductions, such as car repairs and doctor visits. However, the wheel could also reward students with the cash from a well-attended rummage sale, birthday money and other additions.

At the end, each student was required to have at least $150 remaining in his or her "checking account." Some were asked to go back and re-negotiate their budgets to meet the requirement, Gray said.

Visions has put on the workshop at area high schools for five years, with the program visiting 11 schools this year, Barton said.

The program helps the students understand the financial decisions they'll be required to make as they enter the next phases of their lives, Barton said. "Some even reassess their career choice," she said.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.