“Ali! Someone must’ve stolen your identity. You have a shit credit score.”
Those were the little magic words I woke up to this past weekend when I went home to visit my parents. This was news to me. How could my credit score even be bad yet? Do I even have credit? I think I make most of my payments on time. How do I even check my credit score? Did I really eat that entire pizza last night? Can I fix this awful score or is this damning? I am never going to be a home owner. These are the thoughts that automatically came to my mind.
After the worry began to subside, I started to think of all the basic life skills, such as checking my credit score, that I was never taught in school. No one taught me how to balance a checkbook. I have absolutely no clue how to file my taxes. I have never been taught how to thoroughly read contracts. And don’t even get me started on retirement funds.
I am dumbfounded when it comes to being an adult. I was never taught any basic life skills in school and if it wasn’t for my parents, I would be lost down the rabbit hole of life. When bringing this up to my friend group, everyone was in agreement.
In elementary school, I spent almost the entire year learning cursive, only to be informed later in life that I would never in my life actually write in cursive. In middle school, I was taught how to draw a parabola. In high school, I wasted an entire semester building a roller coaster in physics. Years later, here I am — never once having encountered a real-life situation that called for parabolas. I can only remember a third of the cursive letters and I for sure don’t remember how the hell I actually got the marble to make it through the two loops in my model coaster.
This then poses the obvious question: wouldn’t students and people in general be more successful in the real world if teaching a few basic life skills were incorporated into our curriculum?
The other day I had a sense of complete helplessness when I told my parents that I didn’t know how to do these things. I can’t be the only person that feels this way. If I was taught more basic skills in school, this whole “adulting” thing would be much easier. Instead, much of my early education years were dedicated to a curriculum of curated nonsense.
How about instead of ceramics or woodshop being offered as electives in high school, they offer classes that teach you how to change a tire or how to apply for financial aid correctly?
It’s almost similar to the principle that a person could be as book smart as they want to be; however, if they have no street smarts they are going to be lost in some worldly sense. If a student is taught more worldly skills there really might be more successful individuals in the real world.
Thankfully, cheat sites like Turbo Tax and freecreditscore.com give even the most helpless individual hope. So come on. Let’s give up the semester of geometry. Don’t kid yourself, we all know none of us remembers how to make a proof anyway.
Ali Schultz studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.