Schools off-beat, not preparing students for real life

“Life’s a dance you learn as you go… don’t worry ‘bout what you don’t know. Life’s a dance you learn as you go.”

This country tune by John Michael Montgomery tells us not to worry about the unknown, but most of us can’t say that we haven’t. All of us worry to an extent, and with good reason. For me, senior year is here, and my worries focus around my future. While I’m excited, I’m also concerned.

Growing up comes with huge responsibilities, and with huge responsibilities comes the need to know how to manage everything on my plate. For many of us, the rapidly approaching years ahead of us will throw us into “real life”: bills, money, college, important decision making, complete with good and bad times.

I don’t know about my peers, but I don’t feel quite prepared for all of this. I feel as if I’m stepping into a dark room and have to feel my way around to get acquainted with my circumstances. I don’t know how to pay bills, buy a house, deal with insurance, file a tax return, or manage a budget. I guess I’ll have to learn how to do these things by myself as I grow up, but I don’t believe that trial and error is always the most enjoyable way to learn.

Another area of life that is foreign to many people my age is college. The process is intimidating, and some high school students face the challenge of being the first person in their family to go to college. This can be discouraging, especially when students don’t have the luxury of help, support and advice from their families. While my school has helpful places and programs like the Go Center and Gear Up to help prepare students for college, many still need an extra push – a push that only school can give.

Life isn’t all about college and bills, though. It is about being a good, responsible citizen who contributes to society. Many students do not have good role models at home who set examples for them to follow. Some do not know how to treat people they dislike in a responsible, mature manner, how to be responsible pet owners, or how to take care of the environment or their community because they have never been taught.

I propose a solution. While classes like math, science and history are important foundational classes, schools need to be teaching all students fundamental skills that will help develop students into responsible adults. These classes should be mandatory all four years and should teach students about money and finances, college and time management, the importance of doing your best in high school, responsibility and morality, sex education, and even how to avoid getting involved in a bad relationship and should be taught in the years and order in which students should learn them. Learning about these topics early on can prevent many damaging or life-changing consequences such as doing poorly in college, regretting classes taken in high school, going to jail, or even an unplanned pregnancy or heartbreak.

While a majority of life is living and learning from experience, schools could do a better job of raising responsible adults who will make a contribution to society and live sensible lives. I don’t know about the rest of my peers, but I know I could have benefited from being taught a little more about the important things in life earlier on. The more people we have who are educated and sensible, the better the community and school would be for everyone.