Adult questioning life
Why did school teach us algebra but not how to file taxes? Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
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School taught me a lot of things, but it didn’t teach me what a mortgage is 

After graduating high school, where I thought I was learning how to be a capable citizen, I realized pretty quickly that there was an endless list of things we didn’t cover throughout four long years of classes. 

Instead of learning how to function in the adult world, we were putting letters in math equations, memorizing lines of Shakespeare, and running the dreaded beep test. Why didn’t anyone teach us how to be adults? 

When do people become adults anyways? If it’s an age thing, then I’m pretty sure a bunch of us are behind, because I am not entirely sure how to properly exist without the help of another, older, wiser, more experienced, adult. 

I couldn’t tell you how to file taxes, pay off loans, and I wouldn’t be able to explain insurance or even how to get it. Not to mention what your credit score actually means, or how to invest, and have you realized that they always tell you to vote, but not how? It doesn’t take long to realize the importance of understanding all these things, and yet, no one felt like explaining it to us. 

Also, what’s a mortgage? Because I have a feeling that it’s not the same in real life as it is in Monopoly. 

I understand that as a responsible adult with access to the internet, I can research all these topics myself, but it doesn’t make sense to me that I know the equation ‘y= ax+b’ and that I spent hours studying content that I haven’t had to recall since I was tested on it. I spent hours stressing over concepts that have not resurfaced in my ‘adult’ life. Yes, there are wonderful resources on the internet, but not everyone has access to that, and there’s only so much you can wrap your head around without someone guiding you. 

I am not saying that everyone should be an expert in every single aspect of adult life by the time they’re in university. I believe that we all deserve to at least have a decent grasp on the things that affect our lives — our futures — enough that we don’t have to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding on these real life topics can put people in terrible situations, from unmanageable debt, to loss, to unemployment. 

Why is there such a big gap between what we need to do to thrive as adults, and what we’ve been taught? It seems obvious that there are so many necessary lessons to be learned, and yet I hadn’t even considered so many things until I saw them in the real world. Did anyone ever consider telling us how to identify scams, understand rental agreements and other documents, or simple budgeting?

The ugly truth to the education system is how much is missing. There are too many important things that need to be explained and taught thoroughly, things that will directly affect an individual’s future. There are so many life skills I didn’t realize I needed until I was thrown into them, and sure, I’ve been able to stay afloat, but a little heads up would have been nice.