Going to college can be intimidating.
You're in an unfamiliar town, away from Mom and Dad for the first time in your life. From finding your first classroom to finding your first friend, there's a laundry list of things to fret about during your first week as a real-life student.
Not at the top of your list: Choosing a bank.
"If you are 18 or over, you can open your account online in minutes," Bank of America tells potential student customers, "So why wait?"
You're busy getting settled at school, but you don't want to keep all $108.92 of your life savings in some night table. So you go online, or visit a sign-up table conveniently located every four feet across campus, to open an account as painlessly as possible. Guess which banks partner with universities to set up around their campuses?
There's certainly nothing wrong with convenience, but if you're wondering why most students choose the biggest bank in sight, that's why. With few exceptions, we collegians simply don't think -- don't care? -- about silly details like what our banks actually do with, you know, our money.
But how do you get students to more carefully pick a bank?
A big benefit of picking a community bank is that it's more likely to spark your neighborhood's growth, because it allots its loans locally. But how many students are from the community in which they attend school?
Some are, but most aren't.
To say we don't care about our newfound communities would be unfair. You can't walk through a school's campus without bumping into one advocacy group or another. But inciting that passion all too often takes a sexy cause, regardless of its importance.
The banking industry is a lot of things, but "sexy" isn't one of them.
It's no secret that the Move Your Money campaign is trying to change that. In less than a month, we've seen it on the "Colbert Report", we've seen Bill Maher advocating for it, and perhaps even this student's blog post is a small step towards making the issue more relevant to us crazy kids.
Joe Student may not have much money to his name, but his banking decisions now will likely impact the rest of his life. When trying to get approved for his first credit card, Joe will likely go the bank where already has a checking account because that bank is more likely to approve his application.
From there, according to PNC Bank, he'll likely stick with that credit card for his entire life. This just isn't the kind of thing most 18 year-olds think about when they open a checking account.
There are plenty of factors that go into choosing a bank -- whether they be financial, moral or political. The fear here isn't that students are making the wrong choice, it's that they aren't making a choice at all.