Editors note: This post is originally from 2012, when I was a wee 20 year old. Because it randomly still gets a decent number of clicks, I decided to update it a smidge.
It’s been almost seven years since I graduated from high school, but even now, several full time jobs into adulthood, there are still some gaps in my education that I wished were better filled before letting me fly from the public school nest. So here are the six things I wish I’d been taught back in high school that would have benefited me greatly out here in the “real world.”
1. How to write a resume and cover letter. Resumes are, arguably, one of the most important things to know how to create, and cover letters as a concept are confusingly vague. The problem is that you can write them in a lot of different ways, and there’s no central, agreed-upon format that everyone can easily follow. As such, a comprehensive lesson on the basics of what a resume and cover letter have to include would have been incredibly useful. How long should they be? Should you have multiple versions of each? They could have mentioned it in my intro to business class my freshman year, or really any other time in any other class because while it’s debatable whether or not I’ll need sine or cosine ever again, I’m definitely gonna need to whip up a resume and cover letter if I want to continue paying my rent.
2. How to make a budget. This is another lesson that would have maybe taken one day out of my mindless, unnecessary memorization of geometric equations that I am literally -yes, I’m using that word correctly- literally never going to use. I know a lot of people -including my little brother and one of my roommates- who have trouble controlling their spending simply because they don’t understand the limits of their balance. I eventually took a finance class in college, and honestly, it focused more on interest rates than how to properly compartmentalize your expenses. But not everyone can wait that long for yet another unhelpful semester. These are important life skills, public school system. Take note.
3. How to dress. I’m not talking fashion-wise, necessarily. If you want to wear combat boots and prom dresses to school, whatever. That’s your prerogative. But it would have been helpful if, again, once, someone in high school had taught us how to dress for, say, a job interview, or, maybe, any other event that isn’t strictly casual. Clothing choice is just as important, if not more, than a resume in an interview, because what you wear reflects the company for which you work, and sorry, but it’s gonna be hard to find a job that’s cool with your clothespin lip piercing and corset. Also, it would have been nice if, once, someone had concretely explained what the heck “business casual” or “semi casual” means.
4. Cheap, basic, healthy meals. There’s a reason the “Freshman Fifteen” exists. It’s because, in addition to having no idea how to manage a budget, new college students, or just new members of the post high school workforce, probably have no idea at all how to feed themselves. It would have been nice if, A. a half-semester home economics class was required (or even offered at all), and B. they would have taught us how to make a couple, reasonably healthy, inexpensive meals. Not everyone’s family cooks dinner together every night; if all you know how to make is ramen and mac and cheese, I’d like to introduce you to my new friend obesity, and his partner, type 2 diabetes. Enjoy your shorter lifespan, kids, because as long as you live long enough to receive a diploma, the public education system doesn’t care.
5. Metric system. I know we live in America where, for some reason, we have this asinine system of measuring that makes absolutely no sense and is more complicated than anyone can possibly decipher, but everywhere else, they use the metric system. In an increasingly global world, it’s going to be important to know how to use the arguably superior measuring system. Plus, if more people were taught the metric system here, maybe we can finally join the rest of the planet.
6. More diverse arts classes. Contrary to the public school system’s belief, art is more than drawing and rudimentary ceramics. Art encompasses film, dance, theater, music, graphic design, creative writing, and so much more. I know public schools are struggling with funding, but in a world where a diverse skillset and knowledge base might be the only thing keeping you one step away from the breadline, these classes are incredibly important. Performance-based art classes, like theater, teach confidence, memorization, and public speaking. Film classes teach collaboration, storytelling, and in a lot of cases, activism. Music has been proven to make you a better critical thinker and problem solver. It’s easy to write off classes like these as “frivolous”, as long as you aren’t paying attention to how the world actually works.
So there it is, my list of things I wished I’d had in high school. Do you have any additions to this list, or problems with mine? Let me know in the comments!