Why High Schools Should Require Life Skills Courses

Why High Schools Should Require Life Skills Courses

What students can gain by learning practical skills before going to college.
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Several years ago, as I finished my final year of high school, I felt nervous about going to college in another state. Even though my parents made a point to teach us skills for living away from home, and despite my desire to get to college and start my adult life, worries nagged at me.

How would I do taxes? How could I get a good job and write a good resume? How long would my groceries stay fresh? How would I make a successful budget? What would I do if something broke or needed to be fixed? How would I manage my time and stress?

These important questions – things everyone should know how to do to be a successful adult – were completely glazed over in every high school class I took. Sure, I spent years learning about every ancient Chinese dynasty and memorizing the quadratic formula (both very useful as an English major, let me tell you), but no one bothered to create or require a comprehensive life skills course to prepare students for any of their future life paths.

In my high school and many others, some life skills classes, such as nutrition and cooking, car repair and personal finance, existed, but they were very specialized and not required to graduate. With the number of classes each student was required to take, very little space was left to add five separate classes just to understand how to live alone.

As far as I can tell, very few schools in the U.S. offer broad skills classes that would teach a little of each subject – basic repairs, finance, job skills, time management, cooking, stress relief and frankly, common sense. Certainly, even fewer schools require students to take these types of courses.

I completely understand that the main focus of every high school is to prepare their students for college and/or gainful employment. This leads to an intense focus on rigorous academics, testing and college-prep courses. All of these helped me when I was applying to college and, later on, once I started college.

However, high schools completely overlook the fact that their students will go to college academically equipped but far from socially, financially and emotionally equipped to handle the real life challenges of adult life. Academic success is a huge factor when preparing to enter the job market after college, but no recently independent adult can have a prosperous and fruitful life without also knowing how to get the job they've been preparing for, how to pay for the apartment they need or how to file the taxes that'll come along with their dream job.

It is past time for high schools to incorporate comprehensive life skills courses into their curriculum. Our generation has the ability to impact the future in an incredible way. But, until we are equipped with strong foundations of social, mental and practical skills, we can't be logically expected to enter adulthood and make the difference we have the potential to make.

Cover Image Credit: Pictrsearch

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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3 Things i learned at pride in NYC

The people, the flags, and the glitter are even more magical in person.

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On Sunday, June 24th, my girlfriend, my best friend and I, all hopped on a train to the World Trade Center in New York City. After a short subway ride, we arrived at 16th Street, where the parade festivities began. Dressed in our decked out rainbow attire, we entered a vibrant crowd of flag wielding, self-loving having, beautiful people. Pride is something the LGBTQIA+ community knows how to celebrate well. Lesbihonest, I think its safe to say that the LGBTQ+ community essentially created loving yourself, along with embracing those around you, whether you know them or not. While at Pride, I learned a few things about myself, about how to love others, and what it means to be apart of a community.

1. Love thy neighbor

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Because pride is such an important event to the LGBTQIA+ community, the number of people that attend each year is increasing by the thousands. There were an expected 48,000 people this year and when you're amerced in such a large crowd keeping your cool is super important. I learned that in most cases, giving love will result in receiving it, especially in 84-degree weather. So when I was making my way through energetic crowds, I used my p's and q's and was met with the same energy from strangers.

2. At pride, the dress code is no dress code

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If you're in the mood to wear your birthday suit, glitter, or witty t-shirt and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community as a member or as an ally, pride is the place to be! The extravagant outfits and expression of self-pride through clothes and even lack of clothes made me feel extremely comfortable in my own outfit. I think we all have had our share of being uncomfortable in our skin or clothes, but being around thousands of people dressed in whatever made them most comfortable that day was a beautiful experience.

3. Pride is not solely about the LGBTIA+ community

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Heritage of Pride, the nonprofit organization that organizes New York City's LGBT pride events each year, strives to work towards creating a future that consists of equal rights for all under the law. The march is an annual civil rights demonstration that brings awareness to the fight against aids, the Black Lives Matter movement and memorializes those who have lost their lives to illness, violence and neglect. This year over 450 different organizations participated in the march and about 110 floats were shown, each float bringing awareness to different organizations.

As an Afro-Latina, lesbian, I felt very represented and extremely grateful to participate in a civil rights event such as pride. The opportunity to educate myself and even feel more comfortable in my own skin, and enjoy myself with the people I love most, is something I will truly cherish. Hopefully, my experiences and knowledge will expand next year at the 2019 NYC pride!

Cover Image Credit:

Em Goss

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