Monday, December 21, 2009

Things I Wish I'd Learned In School

I was contemplating things today. I've been very busy lately, finishing up the semester, applying to a new school for next fall, and considering my job situation, and potential internships for next year. In the midst of all this, I started thinking about what most people would consider pretty basic life skills that I wish someone had sat me down and taught me once and for all when I was in my earlier years of schooling. I also started thinking about things that I know how to do, but that a lot of people I know who are my age don't. I've started to compile a list. So, without further ado...
Things I Wish I'd Learned In School

  • How To Properly Prepare A Resume
    This is something that I semi-learned in high school, and I have a workable resume that I still use leftover from that, but a resume to submit in a professional environment is a little different than one you mail off to colleges. I also have friends who didn't learn how to prepare one in high school, and have never had to submit a resume for the jobs they've done, so they simply don't have one. In my opinion, everyone should have some sort of acceptable resume by the time they leave high school. Even if you haven't had a lot of jobs, or even any job at all, you can still use it to present the activities you participate in, any community service you do, as well as any useful skills you have. You never know when you're going to find an opportunity that will ask you for it, so I think we should all learn to do it, and have an updated copy on hand
  • How To Write A Check, and Balance A Checkbook
    This skill is quickly becoming obsolete with the rise of online banking and bill pay. My own checkbook is collecting dust in the back of my closet somewhere, but the entire world hasn't gone electronic just yet, and many people my age (myself included) are unsure as to the proper way in which to fill out a check, or balance a checkbook. We may come to a time when this skill is completely obsolete, but right now, it isn't, so we should probably learn how to do it properly.
  • How To Prepare For A Job Interview
    My first job interview was an impromptu trip to the stock room of a small store when I was 17. I was utterly unprepared for any of the questions they asked me, and the kinds of answers they were looking for. However, as it was a minimum wage retail slave job, I managed to be offered said job anyway, despite my stammering and awkward pauses. My next job interview, for which I was properly dressed and armed with vague ideas for answers, wasn't until 2 years later, and I wondered if other people walk into their first job interview as unsure about what to expect as I was. This goes hand in hand with the resume preparation as well - high schools are constantly trying to help us get in to colleges, who are constantly trying to get us into the work force, but in many cases, we wind up unprepared for the work force in the end. Everyone should know how to dress for a job interview, what to bring with them, and what sorts of questions to expect.
  • How To Cook
    The running joke about college kids is that we survive on ramen noodles. Humorous though the stereotype may be, for many students it is not too far off the mark. Being fortunate enough to have home economics classes in my earlier school days (something for which I am thankful almost every day), I can cook. But it's far from uncommon for college kids to be rather abysmal in the kitchen. At the most basic, everyone should know how to make pasta and sauce, cook eggs, and whip up some vegetable soup. We covered all that in a semester of Home Ec, along with baking a sheet cake, making pancakes, and making pizza bagels. We also covered the benefits of doing so. The nutritional value of meals you prepare yourself are totally under your control, and odds are, better than the takeout you were thinking of getting, or the crap in the school cafeteria where there is no such thing as a serving size. Plus, it will wind up costing you less as well, and you get to keep the leftovers. It only makes sense to have an arsenal of recipes that you can whip out to cook dinner for yourself, or some friends.
  • How To Mend and Hem Clothing
    Another epidemic among college kids which I am pleased to have escaped. (Thank you, Home Ec!) However, it is not difficult to see that I am in the minority here. At my job, most of us wear the same pants, every shift, for days on end. Needless to say, these clothes take a beating. Seams rip, knees tear, hems come undone. Most of these are clothing dilemmas that can be solved by 10 or 15 minutes with a travel sewing kit, however, most of my coworkers had no idea how to mend their clothing. Sure, there's such a thing as a tailor, but between the fact that we're college kids and the fact that we need to wear these clothes every time we work, the time or money for such things may not be readily available. You never know when you're going to accidentally damage an important piece of clothing and need a speedy repair. Hand sewing at a level that will mend basic clothing damages at least temporarily is not a difficult skill to learn, and everybody should know how to fix a hem that has fallen out.
  • How To Do Your Taxes
    I've saved the best for last, haven't I? I will be the first to admit that my father does my taxes. I haven't the foggiest idea what "doing your taxes" even entails. I get the forms from work, I give them to my father, and I magically hear back from the government whether or not I owe them even more money. The entire process is alien to me. Even if you're going to hire someone else to do your taxes for you, you should at least have a basic idea of what they're doing. But really, why not learn to do it and save yourself the trouble of hiring someone else? I've not spoken to a single person my age who does their own taxes. Must we really be so reliant on other people to do this for us? I'm sure if we put our minds to it and had some instruction on what the heck we were supposed to be doing, we'd be able to manage it on our own.

Are some of the things on this list things you wish you'd learned in school? Are some of them things you're grateful to have learned in school? What other things would you add to a list of "Things You Wish You'd Learned In School"? Do you think that schools should implement more courses that focus on life skills?


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