As the countdown towards graduation begins, students nervously anticipate what awaits them in the future. The post-graduation plan for many students involves finding a job, moving out of the family home and becoming an independent adult. However, some students lack skills in understanding or managing their personal finances.
A “basic life skills” class that teaches students about filing tax returns, investing and planning for retirement should be added to the list of general education requirements. This would equip students with a skill set necessary for their success.
NerdWallet conducted a survey of 1,015 adults in the United States and found that “respondents scored on average 51 percent in a 10-question quiz on tax basics related to such personal finance issues as retirement, college savings and health care.”
Although college is meant to prepare students for the “real world,” nothing about attending college is real. Students attend classes where the expectations are perfectly outlined on syllabi, they purchase food with a “meal plan” that defeats the purpose of learning to cook, and, when something goes wrong and they need help, they are refereed to others which deflects responsibility off of them.
Adding a basic life skills class that educates students about their finances won’t be exactly like real life, but the class would allow students to familiarize themselves with some of the real-world skills they will need when they graduate from college.
On average, undergraduate seniors have attended school for 17 years. While students are taught in classes to think critically about the world around them, they lack a basic understanding of personal financial matters. This lack of knowledge combined with the accumulation of student loans, credit card debt and auto loans can leave students and young adults in poor financial standing.
UMBC requires students to take general education courses in order to broaden their knowledge and skill set outside of their major. Students must fulfill two gym classes in order to graduate. However, students are regularly taught about health and exercise from a young age, so enforcing gym classes in college is counterproductive when there are other basic life skills they have yet to learn.
“I know a lot of my friends who graduate don’t know how to file their tax returns and they have to call their parents or someone for help, but this is something they really need to know how to do on their own,” said junior biology major Jessica Sprando.
There are some universities that offer classes on life skills. At Harvard Univeristy, students can take free non-credit life skills courses that address topics such as health insurance, cooking and basic car care. These classes allow students to learn about the real world before they have to experience it on their own.
College is meant to prepare students by giving them the skills that are necessary for success in the working world. Recent graduates are thrown from a safe setting of structured learning into the real world where independence is required. Colleges should include basic life skills classes that educate students about filing taxes, investing and savings, because many youths lack the ability to understand or manage their personal finances.