Life skills shouldn’t be an afterthought | Emma’s Editorial

High school teaches students the basic core subjects like math and English but often fails to teach important life skills needed for adulthood. I have learned how to solve basic equations and cite a source in MLA format, but I’ve never been taught how to pay my taxes or how to use a credit card. 

As a result of the American education system failing to provide students with crucial information needed to succeed in the real world, many high schoolers enter adulthood feeling completely unprepared.  I certainly do. While I personally have a support system that is capable of teaching me the skills I need, there are many people that do not have such a system and have no easy way to acquire life skills that aren’t taught in school. 

One skill that I think all schools should teach is budgeting. I think that it is important to learn how to properly spend your paycheck and how much money to set aside for savings and retirement. 

Another skill that I think all schools should teach is how to open a bank account. Anything that has to do with finances deeply confuses me and I get stressed just thinking about all the different types of bank accounts. I don’t know whether to choose a savings or a money market account. And what happens if the market crashes?

Knowing how to use and pay off a credit card is another life skill that I think could be beneficial. It is very easy to misuse a credit card and go into major debt and considering how long it takes to pay off student loans, more debt is the last thing I want. 

I also think that it’s important to teach students mental skills like emotional intelligence. The amount of adults that I have met that lack emotional intelligence because they were never taught how to develop it is astounding.

 Going along with emotional intelligence, empathy is another important emotional skill that I think should be taught. Nowadays, it seems to me like there is a shortage of empathy in the world because while some people are empathetic by nature, others have to work harder to achieve an empathetic mindset. In my experience emotional skills are a lot harder to teach to adults with fully developed brains, which is why I believe it is crucial to learn it at a young age. 

While I think a lot of schools do not teach necessary life skills, Dow High has started to teach their students a few vital life skills. For example, in my Marketing class I was taught how to build a strong resume and portfolio. I also learned how to do well at a job interview and what employers are looking for in a potential employee. In my Student Leadership class, I was taught how to create a balanced schedule of activities that I have to do and activities I like to do as well as how to effectively manage my stress. 

However, Marketing and Student Leadership were classes that I chose to take and I did not know that they would provide helpful life skills. A lot of students I know have never taken either of those classes, and would therefore not have access to those skills. I think that all schools should have a mandatory class that provides students with pivotal skills to help them succeed in the real world. 

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Emma Mertes

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