The value of education is often in preparing students for life by teaching them to think, reason, debate, articulate their thoughts and write logically, rather than to remember historical dates or chemical formulas. That is why the Hong Kong International School (HKIS) offers a Senior Transitions Seminar for final-year classes in the second semester of the academic year that prepares students for life beyond school. "The seminar encourages students to reflect on their high school experiences, to anticipate changes ahead, and to develop skills to manage and enjoy the challenges of college life," HKIS high school counsellor Madeleine McGarrity says. The seminar covers possible future personal problems - such as handling difficult situations with roommates - awareness of personal safety on campuses and surrounding neighbourhoods, the importance of exercise and nutrition, and managing finances. "The discussions begin with students' current experiences on managing their allowances and their possible use of credit cards. We talk about how successful they currently are with budgeting by listing the variety of things they spend money on, such as snacks, transportation and clothing," McGarrity says. Students receive detailed guidance on budgeting for college costs beyond tuition and room and board, such as books, stationery, flights, phone bills, clothing and entertainment. They are also given advice on personal banking, where a teacher explains the functions of checking and savings accounts, and points out the hidden costs of opening a bank account. Special attention is placed on credit cards, with details provided on the variety of charges that can be incurred due to annual fees, late payments, interest rates and finance charges. Students are also cautioned about the downsides of credit card companies obtaining their personal information. "We recommend students keep records of deposits and withdrawals to check against their monthly statements, and that they are aware of their credit card limit. We also recommend budgeting for the semester on a monthly basis and keeping track of expenses," McGarrity says. The seminar also gives final-year students a thorough understanding of the importance of maintaining a good credit record for the purpose of making major purchases in the future, such as buying a car, a house or an apartment. "We also discuss credit card safety issues, including how to protect passwords and what students should do if they lose their card or if it is stolen," McGarrity says.