Beyond your chosen major and a smattering of liberal arts, there a lot of important lessons colleges should teach, but, sadly, don’t. Or if they do, it’s through workshops, not required material. Now, I went to school at a liberal arts college (GO RU-C!), and I loved every minute of it. But, looking back, I think I would’ve preferred my general education classes to require me to learn basic adult life skills, instead of calculus and psychology. So here are, in my opinion, some of the lessons colleges should teach their students about real life.
1. How to Balance a Checkbook
I am twenty-four years old and I will honestly say that I just learned how to do this. I used to think that, because I don’t use checks, this was a skill I would never need. Come to find out, it’s a way to keep track of your monetary intake versus your spending, and it is a helpful skill to have. Why wasn’t I taught this in between long division and the Pythagorean Theorem? I don’t know, but balancing a checkbook is definitely one of the important lessons colleges should teach.
2. How to Build Good Credit
I don’t know about y’all, but between tuition, housing, books, supplies, and general living costs, I found college to be excessively expensive. Like many others, at the ripe age of eighteen I though credit cards were the solution to my dwindling monetary resources. And let’s not even talk about loans. Problem is, no one ever taught me how to use those credit cards correctly, or about how to start picking away at my loans early. I had no clue how to build my credit until post-graduation, when, let’s be honest, I was already kind of in the hole.
3. How to Fix Bad Credit
Which brings us to our third point: since I did not learn how to get good credit, I then had to figure out how to fix my sub-par credit. Which no one taught me, either! Now I am not blaming my school’s Career Center here, because they likely offered me many amazing resources if I would have looked for them. But between classes, jobs, extracurricular activities, and some semblance of a social life, what college student has the time to look around for life lessons? How to build and fix credit should be required learning. I truly believe that I would have benefited far more from this skill than I ever will from chemistry.
4. How to Interview
Now, I know this one is definitely offered at almost every college in workshop form. However, it should be in a class, where you are graded, because without this skill, getting a job after college is seemingly impossible. I am lucky enough to find conversing easy, but not everyone has that level of comfort, or ease of speaking with a stranger. What’s the use in filling our heads with knowledge, when we don’t know how to use that knowledge when we get into the real world? College students should be taught how to present themselves to prospective employers, and should not be allowed to leave the university without this knowledge.
5. How to Write a Proper Resume and Cover Letter
Like with interviewing, your college probably has the resources available to help with resume and cover letting writing, if you take the time to look. But why is that necessary? Why are colleges requiring that you learn another language to pad your resume, but not that you learn to write said resume? I can’t even tell you the number of my friends who have asked me to look over their resume or cover letter for them, and I’m far from an expert. PLEASE, colleges, make these skills general education requirements!
6. Workplace Etiquette
You figured out the resume and cover letter, you made it through the interviews, and you got the job. Congratulations! But the hard stuff doesn’t stop there. There are certain dos and don’ts of working in every kind of job, from the way you dress, to how much extra work you do, to how to present ideas or worries to your superiors; and most times you don’t learn these basic forms of etiquette until you get there. Wouldn’t it be nice if colleges taught us the basics of this stuff before we left?
While this may not be a singular lesson that can be taught in class, it is probably the most important one of all. When a student is preparing to leave college, the hope is to find a well-paying, enjoyable job in the field in which he or she studied. That was my hope, anyway. The lesson that needs to be taught is that college is not enough. Most jobs require an ample amount of experience, and many times more schooling. And the jobs that don’t? They aren’t likely to start at $40k a year. A little realism goes a long way, and college students should know what to expect upon graduation.
I loved college… it taught me so many valuable lessons, and it even taught me a whole lot about myself. But I think it’s high time that some life lessons be added into the curriculum, because, truly, real world skills are far more useful than algebra. What do y’all think: should life skills such as these be made into a general education requirement? What lessons do you think colleges should teach?