When you’re just starting out as a young adult, you think that you know everything about “adulting,” but the “real world” can be a huge reality check. You also might think about all of the things that school didn’t prepare you for, like paying taxes and balancing a checkbook. Here are seven basic life skills that I wish I was taught in high school before heading into adulthood:
1. Practicing Self-Care:
When I was in school, I stressed over finals, getting my grades up, and meeting deadlines. I would “go, go, go” until I had a breakdown – and I know that I wasn’t the only one who brought this mindset into adulthood.
Teachers and parents should teach students healthy ways to manage stress and encourage them to listen to their bodies in order to avoid burnout. Adulthood can increase stress, and learning how to cope ahead of time can make the transition a little bit easier.
2. Saving and Investing
Saving for retirement or even just a rainy day isn’t always on the top of our priority lists as young adults – but it should be. High schools should teach teens about mutual funds, 401k accounts, and the benefits of saving money for emergencies. Many of us might be a little bit better off financially if schools taught us about saving and investing money.
3. Opening and Managing a Bank Account
As adults, most of us are no longer babysitting or mowing lawns for extra cash – the majority of us have paychecks that require depositing. However, it would have been nice to know how to open and manage a bank account so that by the time we reached adulthood, we knew exactly what to do. Some accounts have extra fees as well, and it’s important to know what those mean before you actually need to set up your bank account. High schools need to teach students all about bank accounts, especially how to use credit and debit cards and write checks.
4. Renting an Apartment:
Most of us probably didn’t realize how expensive apartments are when we first reached adulthood – and it might have come back to bite us later. That’s why high schools need to teach students about the apartment rental process and just how different the cost of living can be in different areas. Students should learn how to make an “apartment rental budget” with every cost associated with apartment living, including daily living expenses. If students learn about these costs in high school, they might not feel so much pressure to move out right after they graduate.
5. Protecting Yourself
As teens gain independence, they’ll have evening classes and night jobs (and maybe a few house parties on the weekends!), which can put them at risk of needing to protect themselves. Knowing basic self-defense skills and planning who they can contact in an emergency can help them stay safe post-graduation. Learning these skills in school would have helped a lot of us stay safe in college and beyond too.
If you think back to your first few times paying for your own meals at restaurants, you may remember not knowing how much to tip your server. You probably didn’t want to leave a “bad” tip but may not have known just how high to tip. High schools should teach students how to calculate basic tips so that they make sure to pay their servers, hairdressers, and valet service providers a fair amount.
Entering the adult world was scary for most of us, but it would have made us a lot less anxious if we had been taught many of these basic life skills in high school. The good news is that we figured most of these things out, but we shouldn’t have to learn it all alone – high schools need to teach students practical life skills!