College education lacks basic training in life skills
April 27, 2007
As my graduation date approaches, I have been reflecting on my time as a college student. I have realized college has educated me about U.S. history, how to write a paper and how to think critically, however, it has not taught me basic life skills.
Some of the things I am about to discuss may make me sound like an airhead, but I am truly a smart person, book-wise, just not always common sense-wise.
This past month, I have applied and interviewed for several jobs. Though I have been working since I was 14 years old and have applied and interviewed for dozens of jobs, I can't help but wonder if my résumé, cover letters and interviews are "real world" worthy. What if I am doing or saying something wrong? I know Career Services offers workshops for students to work on these areas and I have tried to attend them, but my busy schedule has not allowed me to. Instead of workshops, why isn't there a class offered?
While I believe learning about the history of the United States is important, so is preparing students to be successful in their careers and informing them of what to expect, such as the slow response of many employers (something myself and many of my graduating friends are experiencing).
I have interviewed for a handful of jobs over the past several weeks and while my potential employers said they would get back to me shortly after the interview, I have not received a phone call from most of them about whether or not I received the job. My professors, friends and fiancé tell me it is normal for potential employers to not call back right away. While they tell me it is normal, I sit here and wonder if something I said in my interview caused the delay, if the employer has already hired someone else, if they don't feel I am qualified. All in all, I wonder if it really is normal.
Moving on, I realized another thing last week. Instead of making the usual Kraft Macaroni & Cheese or frozen pizza, I wanted to eat healthier. So, I decided to make chicken and vegetables. After thawing out the chicken, I realized I had no grill. So I tried cooking the chicken in a skillet on the electric stove. Bad move. It turned out to be a catastrophe, and I ended up eating a bowl of cereal.
Why don't I know how to cook a basic chicken breast? It would've been nice to have the opportunity to take a cooking course in college, which could have provided me with healthy meal ideas and instructed me how to prepare them.
The last point I will make about my lack of knowledge in some areas of life involves finances. When I graduate in May and enter the "real world" as some call it, I will eventually have to get a home, which will most likely entail me getting something called a home mortgage. What exactly is this? I don't know, but it sounds like I will need it in order to buy a home.
And what about insurance? My mom keeps telling me I will have to pay for my own car insurance after I graduate, I have to get life insurance when I get married, I have to get home owner's insurance when I move into a house, and I have to get health insurance when my Minnesota Care coverage ends. How do I get all these insurances and how do I choose the best one? Furthermore, it sounds like all these insurances, are going to cost me a fortune. How much should I plan on paying in insurance each month?
I know I will learn about the topics I just discussed as I get older and move forward in life after graduation, but I feel like learning about them in college would have helped set me up better for the real world rather than me learning about them during this last month as an undergraduate student.
My overall point is that while it is important for students to learn about U.S. history, writing papers and thinking critically, I believe it is just as important for them to learn the basics of life - getting a job, cooking, finances, interpersonal communication skills, how to make informed decisions and the list goes on.
Amber Jurek is a student at UW-River Falls.