Originally written in April 2017 as an in-class assignment.
A college education is pretty valuable, despite the high and rising costs of attendance. The Department of Education reports that people who receive bachelor’s degrees typically earn sixty-six percent more than those who only obtain high school diplomas. A degree is more valuable and more expensive than ever, but degrees typically only certify the student in one area of study. I want my college to teach me how to be a functioning adult, to prepare me for the world I’m going to be thrown into as a new graduate.
When I leave college, I want to be able to do more than be able to write a really strong column, or know what the event manager at an arena does – both of these are required as part of my major or minor. Everything I learn as part of my major, minor, or the classes I take for fun are for areas that, in the long run, will help me. I’m glad that I learned how to insert quotes into a news article, but inserting quotes into a news article is not equivalent, in any way, to being able to file my own taxes.
The core curriculum at this school seems to touch on what the school sees as important, but I can tell you right now that general chemistry I and history of science are not classes that are going to get me, a writer with dreams of working in sports or theater, anywhere in life. I can’t think of a class I’ve taken in my core that I’ve finished the semester thinking, “wow, that class was valuable,” besides introduction to theater.
I wish my school would teach me how to budget and pay taxes. General life skills go a long way. A lot of that does come from common sense, but at the same time, I’m not just going to wake up one day and magically know how to finance a mortgage. I know the school offers classes on taxes and managing finances in the accounting and finance departments, but those classes are high-level and tailored toward people who plan to do that professionally. There are no classes geared toward the greater majority of students here in forensics, criminal justice, or even the liberal arts students. It’s kind of like the school is telling us to figure it out on our own, since they won’t teach it to us.
I want my college to offer a class of general financial life skills. Teach me how to begin repaying my loans instead of teaching me United States history for the fourth time in my academic career; unsurprisingly, history hasn’t changed. I want to know how to do my own taxes, so I’m not paying an outside service or person money out of my return to do it. How do you take out a mortgage on a house or condominium? I don’t know, but I’ll need to one day, and my college degree isn’t going to help me with that.