Social Question

janelle's avatar

Why do schools suck so bad?

Asked by janelle (465 points ) July 6th, 2012

I feel as if i’ve been taught how to succeed in the classroom but now that i’m transitioning into the “real world” from college to standing completely on my own I feel like I may have not learned anything important at all! 16 years of studying, countless all nighters, hours and hours sitting in a classroom learning and absorbing information, yet I haven’t learned some basic life skills. I don’t know how to write a check, I don’t know how to manage checking, I don’t know how to rent an apartment, I don’t know how i’m going to pay for this education, I don’t know how to get a job in society now, and most of all I don’t know who to go to with all of these questions.

Who is to blame for this or is my generation just set for failure?

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43 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Schools do not teach life skills (would that they did). I’m sorry you are finding this out now. You will have to stumble through with trial and error.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Welcome to the real world! I don’t think it is generational…it’s always been a challenge for some.

Most public schools are limited to teaching basic knowledge. This doesn’t include prepping them for real life past young education. The only ‘life’ lesson I learned in high school was how to fill out tax forms.

What you are looking for was taught by my parents and older siblings as I grew up and they were needed. Do you have any guardians or mentors that you can ask for assistance? As for blame, there isn’t any reason to point fingers. Now that you are an adult and recognize the need, take control of the situation.

Response moderated
6rant6's avatar

Where did you go to college?

janelle's avatar

I attended a private catholic all girls college prepatory high school in California and am currently attending a state university.

gailcalled's avatar

Take it one step at a time.

Go to your local bank and ask one of the officers to teach you about getting and maintaining a check book. It’s straightforward. You put money into your account and then you can use the checks to pay for things.

You put $500 in cash into your checking account. You buy some textbooks to the tune of $45. You write a check to the book store for $45. Then you make a note in the ledger that you now have $450 left in the account.

The bank will send you a monthly statement explaining what you deposited and what you withdrew from your account.

Do you not have parents, siblings or other relatives who can help you with these issues?

janelle's avatar

I do, and since they’re financially stable you would think that they can help me. But i’m the first generation to be raised here. I also think that it would be hard for them to teach me all of the basics, sort of how I also believe that teaching kindergarden can be difficult. The levels of understanding and experience are just so different so I would need someone who is experienced with transferring this information.

gailcalled's avatar

You then go to the financial aid office at your university and ask them about loans, grants and work-study. These are predicated on your parents’ income and assets. They will have to submit their income taxes and general information about their finances in order for you to qualify.

The form is called a FAFSA (free application for student aid) and is your starting point.

Here’s some financial aid information for Berkeley, as an example of the CA. state system.
http://students.berkeley.edu/admissions/general.asp?id=26

bkcunningham's avatar

How many more years of university do you need to get your degree, @janelle? What is your major, if you don’t mind me asking?

janelle's avatar

I’m going to be entering my second year and plan on becoming a business major.

gailcalled's avatar

Surely you must know something about financial management. Do you get an allowance? Do you work for your spending money? You must know how to budget it for essential expenses and some if any discretionary spending.

missingbite's avatar

@gailcalled You do know that if you write a $45 check out of $500 you are left with $455 and not $450, right? J/K!

gailcalled's avatar

@missingbite: Ooh, shame on me. (Milo is my bookkeeper, so he’s entirely at fault.)

janelle's avatar

Growing up money has never been scarce for me and i’m still in the process of trying to get my first job!

gailcalled's avatar

@janelle: What do you mean by “growing up money”?

janelle's avatar

Let me rephrase that. Money was never scarce for me as I was growing up.

gailcalled's avatar

@janelle: Could you spend it willy-nilly or did you have some sort of budget clothing and/or book allowance?

janelle's avatar

Any expenses for my education would have no impact with my daily spending money and my weekly allowance would usually be more than I needed.

JLeslie's avatar

Some high schools do teach some of that stuff. I learned how to write a check in accounting class in high school, but some schools, but probably not many, actually have a class with many different realistic things to know when you get out in the real world.

What I don’t understand is why your parents have not helped advise you on some of these matters?

Well, I should also say that the time when a person finishes school and starts to look for a job is one of the scariest times in life. Feeling like we have no idea what we are doing is very very common and understandable. I have said this very same thing many times here on fluther.

If your family has money that’s awesome! Takes some of the difficulties away. Get a resume together, sometimes it is worth it to pay a professional to do it, not very expensive, and start talking to people about what you want to do – network. If your parents have connections use them. Your college should have a career center that might be able to help you.

Get some interview clothes and have a good handshake. Go right into a business if you can and say you are interested in a job. Some industries this doesn’t make sense, but some it does.

You can also try temping for a while and get a feel for some companies while you search for a job.

snowberry's avatar

Janelle, I strongly recommend you DO NOT use a credit card. People who are learning how to manage their finances so often go into tremendous debt over credit cards, and it can be even worse for college students. Begin by managing your money with cash, or using a debit card instead..

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry It sounds like her parents pay for everything.

Although, I do agree she should never go into credit card debt (listen up @janelle). But, if she can pay in full every month, credit cards are a nice convenience and can get you a free flight or hotel room. I am flying for free instead of paying $750 for a flight in a few weeks. Well, there is a $50 charge, and I have to pay an annual fee for the card. Still, huge savings.

snowberry's avatar

@JLeslie I was thinking about now, or later. If you’re wanting to learn how to manage money, don’t start out by borrowing against an uncertain tomorrow. That goes whether you’re in school or out of it.

Having a credit card is a nice thing, but unless you don’t mind damaging your financial world, be sure to pay it off every single month, and don’t buy more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month.

bolwerk's avatar

@janelle: Have you considered a minor in business and a major in something you care about that is lucrative? Math, statistics, and sciences are all as important as ever. If you really care about business, and you have a liberal arts background and feel you’re a creative type, maybe consider marketing.

Here are some classes that I think might be helpful for someone in your shoes: financial decision making, introductory managerial accounting, introductory financial accounting, and perhaps a class on management. Those should give you a pretty good breadth about business processes. Managerial finance takes it a step further and teaches you about financing a company, if you’re interested.

As for some of the things you mention – writing checks, renting apartments – most people learn them by diving in. But to answer the basic question, I don’t think schools blanketly suck. In higher education, I think people expect more from them than they can offer – like an instant job. At the primary and secondary level, they tend to be worse because they don’t give people good foundational knowledge – life skills and critical thinking skills, for instance – and part of the reason for this is they’re so politicized that nothing can change.

gondwanalon's avatar

It sounds like you have been going about your life with blinders on. My suggestion to you is to stop looking for someone else to blame for your deficiencies, problems and failures. That will get you nowhere. You alone have to take complete responsibility for your life. Of course that includes the failures too. Accept and embrace your shortcomings and learn and grow from them. Good luck to you.

“A man may fail many times, but he is only a failure when he begins to blame someone else.”
-Steve Prefontaine

Ponderer983's avatar

I love how the private Catholic school spent so much time drilling about god that tthey neglected to teach you how to balance checkbook. My public High School taught me to balance a check book and the basics of personal finance. An entire class dedicated to personal finance. Now I know that is not every school, but I find it interesting. It’s kind of the idea that “God will Provide,” but in reality, he doesn’t.

Anyway, I rant! as @gondwanalon said, take the blinders off and look around. If you don’t have people you trust (family or friends) to ask these things of and teach you, then you are going to have to start figuring it out on your own. You can’t teach real world, you need to experience real world. Go live and make some mistakes and learn from them. We all have and will continue to. It’s the lessons you take from your mistakes that will give you the experience and lessons you are seeking.

janelle's avatar

@gondwanalon Yet they raise and educate us to believe that this education will prepare us for the real world, that’s why i’m blaming them. I don’t think i’ve exactly failed in anything..i’ve just been misinformed.
@Ponderer983 uhm if I followed your method i’d probably be in debt by now.

augustlan's avatar

I consider most of the skills you’re talking about to be a parent’s responsibility, not a school’s. Not that I’m opposed to schools teaching these important life skills… I really wish they would! Realistically, though, most don’t and it’s on the parent to teach them to their children.

JLeslie's avatar

@snowberry There we agree, don’t borrow, only buy what you can afford today. Especially when it cones to credit card purchases.

Ironically, I seem to remember in the Q @janelle has taken loans for her education.

@janelle If you do have student loans, which to me is a little odd if your parents have so much miney, maybe their phylosophy on education is it’s up to you to pay, or they just think it is a cheap loan? Anyway, why not put aside some of your allowance and save it? That way you will have money to pay off your loans; or put first, last, amd security on an apartment, or move to a city you want to live in, or whatever you need it for.

janelle's avatar

@JLeslie I did state that as I was growing up money was never an issue for me. Now I actually need to spend most of it, if not all.

@augustlan Either way I feel as though they claimed they would prepare us for the future so that I wouldn’t be feeling the way I do now.

chyna's avatar

It would be a great idea to have a class called Life 101 that taught how to write checks, how to reconcile checkbooks, how to apply for credit, how to apply for jobs, how to use washer and dryers, how to clean house. It seems easy once you know how to do these things, but if you aren’t taught at some point as an adolescent, how is a person supposed to know? I remember having to ask a guy I was dating in college to teach me how to reconcile my checkbook and I then taught my best friend.

funkdaddy's avatar

You’re freaking out. It’s ok. You’ll get through it.

At some point everyone here trying to give you advice realized they would need to do things on their own. They all realized they were responsible for themselves. Take a minute and think about what that means for you. You can’t blame anyone else from now on, you’re an adult, make decisions and get things done. You’ll get through it.

It’s going to be humbling at times. You won’t be sure of yourself. Be confident you can handle it, people a lot worse off than yourself make it through successfully. Decide you will too. You’ll get through it.

Almost every business out there will help you use their services, so will every government agency.

Smile. Ask a question. Listen to the other person without interrupting. Ask another question. Stay calm. Say thank you.

You’re an adult. No one is going to feel bad for you, but a surprising number will be happy to help you. No one is born knowing how to do the things you’re asking, everyone had to learn. Now it’s your turn.

bkcunningham's avatar

@chyna, back in the day, when I was in school, back when God was a boy, we did have classes like that. Just for example, I remember in 3rd grade, Mrs. Graybeal brought in two telephones. She taught us how to communicate on a telephone in a professional manner. How to answer the phone, how to speak to the caller, how to ask someone to hold, how to take a message, etc. We also had to stand up in front of the entire class and introduce ourselves and others under different scenarios. We learned who to introduce first, how to properly address our elders and others in an introductory setting. Real life stuff. I loved Mrs. Graybeal.

bolwerk's avatar

(Responding sorta to @bkcunningham‘s answer,) I seem to recall the only time we learned about writing checks at school was in second grade. I didn’t get a checking account of my own for at least another decade.

In eighth grade, I took an almost remedial math course (out of laziness, which I regretted). We actually touched upon concepts like compound interest and the like, but I never saw those concepts again until taking some business classes in university, and they could have been entirely avoided by not taking business courses even then. Ironically, being in a class full of IQ-of-80 dipshits in eighth grade spurred me to do better in math, so I ended up graduating in the highest level math my high school allowed (AP Calculcus) – but had I stayed on the remedial course, I might have ended up doing things like business math and maybe come out with more useful “life skills.”

JLeslie's avatar

@janelle I have no idea how careful you are with money. If you grew up with a lot you may have a different idea than most people of what is “normal” spending. I am not assuming anything.

When my husband and I were dating his sister had a baby and decided to do the baptism in Italy. I thought we should go. He said, “but I don’t have any money to go shopping there.” His idea of vacation was shopping. I almost never consider the shopping. He grew up buying things without having to worry about a price tag. Nornal spending to him was very different than mine. It didn’t turn out to be a big deal. Luckily, he still valued not going into debt, so we were on the same page with that. And we both have learned from each other regarding money.

My only point is. You may be able to save more than you are. Again, I am not assuming anything. In college I spent much less than my friends. I didn’t drink, and once I moved out of the dorms I mostly cooked at home. They drank and ate out regularly, adds up.

I also recommend getting a job if you don’t have one. Part time, the money will really add up. Unless you have a very difficult course load, but business usually isn’t extremely demanding.

Don’t freak out, really. Everyone goes through these feelings. Renting an apartment varies greatly across the country. In southeast Florida you need first, last, and security all up front to rent. In North Carolina I just needed first and $200 security. Checks are not used much anymore. When you open your account you can ask the person at the bank how to fill out a check. People will help you if you ask. Sometimes children and young adults are accustomed to only going to their parents with questions, but as you get older, more and more other adults will be sources of information. Sometimes our parents don’t know everything.

bolwerk's avatar

Actually, per what @JLeslie said, in our enlightened age, we have Google. Search “how to write a check” and embarrassment-saving examples like this.

JLeslie's avatar

Just to add. The real way to write a check is to only write “and” between the dollars and cents. People do it wrong all the time. Also, always write out the thousands, without using shortcut for numbers. For instance if your check amount is $3,245.00:

Don’t write thirty two hundred, always write three thousand two hundred…

Don’t write three thousand two hundred and forty five and 00/100, remember “and” is used ony between dollars and cents. So, the correct way is three thousand two hundred forty five and 00/100.

bkcunningham's avatar

Are children still taught how to write different styles of letters and address the envelope properly? @bolwerk, despite your 8th grade laziness and thinking you were gaming the system, you ultimately got a good lesson out of remedial math – in part thanks to the dimwits. lol

bolwerk's avatar

@bkcunningham: well, sort of, but by the time I needed to use that stuff I was well into my 20s and didn’t really remember. Actually, though, it’s probably something that should be taught much more extensively than it is whether you need remediation or not. I remembered (still remember) most algebra, geometry, etc., but since we only touched on the financial stuff in a single remedial class it didn’t really stick. In the end, we could have been tying the more advanced math back to financial concepts. (Even physics can be tied back to financial concepts.)

We learned to write different kinds of letters in fifth grade, but I imagine that’s a relative waste now. Even penmanship isn’t being taught so much anymore, or so I hear.

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, and the line after the cents—————————-

So, no one can add in any money information.

GladysMensch's avatar

Realize this: right now you are privy to more information than any other generation in history. You are never more than a few mouse clicks away from the answer to just about any possible question or problem. Mr. Google is your best friend, or he should be. There are informative sites and videos for just about every topic imaginable. I needed some info on why my washing machine was running too hot, and I not only found a video on repairing washing machines, I found a video on how to repair my exact model. I’m not a washing machine repair man. But I learned how with just a few minutes of internet searching.

Want to know how to balance a checkbook? Here’s a video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUlQ_Bbsg44&feature=relmfu

Want to know how to install a garbage disposal? Here’s directions:
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-install-a-garbage-disposal/index.html

How do you find a job? http://jobsearch.about.com/od/teenstudentgrad/a/firstjob.htm

Question? Google.

Dutchess_III's avatar

All high schools that I know of teach a Life Skills class, but it may be an elective.

I guess they’re assuming that the family and parents have some responsibility in helping a youngster get launched.

Shippy's avatar

We all feel lost and confused when we head out to the big world. Thats how we find mentors and wise people to help us along the way. Many of these things are not taught, as they are ever changing. The methods and rules keep moving around. Just take it one step at a time, and be prepared also to make a few mistakes, it is how we all learn the best lessons.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The first check I wrote when I was 18 bounced. I was really confused about that!

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