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.

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.

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Being A Leader Can Be A Double-Edged Sword

Leadership experience is key, however, with it, you have to be able to roll with the punches.

“What kind of leadership experience do you have? Do you plan on taking on leadership roles in the future?” I feel like leadership is a word you cannot avoid anymore and these are just some of the questions that students face on a regular basis.

In this day and age, college students have faced an extreme pressure to get involved on campus, gain leadership experience and then translate those things onto a resume. In the last year, I have held different leadership roles within a couple different organizations and it has really opened my eyes to the positive and negative sides to them.

Gaining leadership skills is imperative in order to be successful in the workforce, hopefully, in writing this I will be able to shed light on the positive aspects while preparing readers for the possible hardships that can come.

Being a leader can be so fun! Within any organization, there are so many different leadership roles you can take on, and I highly suggest you do. Take on whichever role really speaks to you and your character. The more you feel you relate to the requirements of the position the better you will understand and value it. That’s the exciting part! You learn so much, get to grow as a person, doing something you’re passionate about, while also leading others and giving yourself to something bigger.

Some other really great aspects are the tools that the role can offer you. You all of a sudden gain access to people, technology, and opportunities you would not otherwise have had. You learn how to communicate with people that you may not have otherwise crossed paths with, you learn how to feel compassion for those same people, these things learned on top of basic organizational skills and public speaking skills. When given the title you automatically become the go-to person for that thing and over time, given the effort you put in, master it, which is truly an accomplishment.

Leadership, in general, can and will test most if not every aspect of you as a person.

The knowledge you have of your position will be tested, but even further it will test the strength you have as a human. Being the leader means owning up to your mistakes. Every. Single. Time. It means that you get to fulfill all of the fun parts of the job, but also the not-so-fun parts. Your leadership position can and will make you question yourself as a person and what you stand for. This is something I had no idea would happen, and frankly, I was not ready to have to do that.

However, just like with most things, I did it and learned more about who I am.

Something else that is important to remember about these roles, is that when things go wrong, you and the other leaders, will be the fall guy. When something happens that those in your organization do not agree with, whether it be organizationally sanctioned or not, those members will look for someone to blame. That in and of itself is something we as people will always do, and it may not always be the right way to approach the situation, however, it does happen.

Just like any good leader, when things don’t happen the way they were supposed to, that person not only takes the emotional hit that comes with it, but they also have to take the heat from those in the group that do not agree with what happened.

Experiences such as those are the ones that will make any leader question if they are truly fit for doing so. In the end, that leader will learn, grow, and hopefully change, in order to keep the best interests of the whole group in mind.

Taking on leadership roles, will for most people be inevitable.

There is so much a person can learn about themselves and others when doing so. In the last year, I have held several different leadership roles within different organizations and it has really opened my eyes to what leaders face every day whether it be on a small or large scale. Gaining leadership skills is key to being successful in the workforce, and hopefully, in putting my experiences into writing I have taught readers that you should pursue every opportunity afforded you in the realm of leadership, but that it takes a strong person willing to adapt and grow.

Cover Image Credit: Ian Schneider

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30 Thoughts You Probably Had During The First Day Of Classes

It's all fun and games until you have to go back to class

One of the greatest joys in life is finally heading back to college after break. While it is accompanied with some sadness of leaving your family, pets and bed, it is made up for with college friends, independence and just the general greatness of college life. However, actually going to classes is another story. Here are 30 thoughts you probably had while getting adjusted to the first day of class.

1. *Alarm goes off* Is it really time to get up?

2. I forgot how much it sucked to have community bathrooms

3. Should I dress nicely?

4. What is everyone else wearing?

5. I don't even know where my classes are

6. Am I in the right room?

7. I sorta know that person. Should I sit next to them or is that weird?

8. How are we already on lesson one?!!??!

9. What happened to syllabus week???

10. I already have homework??

11. This is not what I signed up for

12. Okay, it is but still! I wasn't ready for this

13. I wonder if anyone else has lunch right now

14. Why are all my friends in class

15. I guess I'll eat lunch alone

16. Oh good, people I know!!!

17. Why am I already sick of the food here it has only been one day

18. Time for my class! Yay!

19. *repeat thoughts six through 12*

20. Finally done for the day!!!

21. Should I go to the gym or nap?

22. Maybe I'll be productive

23. Or just hang out with friends and do nothing because I don't have that much work yet

24. It was only the first day and I'm exhausted

25. At least I get to pick what time to eat dinner!

26. Why are there so many club meetings

27. Back to the communal showers!

28. I miss my big bed

29. I wonder if my pet misses me yet

30. Can't wait to do this all again tomorrow!

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