Why High School Students Should Learn to Adult

High school may prepare you for college, but not everyone is ready for life postgrad. Here's why it pays to prep for the real world sooner rather than later.

You may have heard of “adult education” before, but have you ever heard of “adulting education”? This is a cause I conceived after my 11th grade teacher gave us an assignment called “Campaign for Change.” My peers and I had the opportunity to choose a topic on anything we were passionate about changing and persuade others to join the cause, and I began thinking about the idea of what life would be like after high school. My passion for this topic really grew after I read a captivating news report by CNN about a man who went from being a Yale graduate majoring in Economics to a homeless man in California. This story proved to be more enlightening for my cause than I expected. It made me realize that whether you attend a local school or an Ivy League institution, graduating from college does not guarantee financial stability. 

College is like the base of a tiered cake, and finishing the foundation doesn’t mean the cake is complete. High schools tend to advise students as far as college readiness and choosing a major or career pathway. However, many college grads come to regret their negligence on learning essential “how-to’s”—such as filing tax returns or receiving roadside assistance when dealing with car trouble—before entering real adulthood. Based on my own personal research, these are my top three reasons why high school students should learn to “adult” sooner rather than later. 

Learning about finances

Money topics go beyond paying for college. No student can hide in their dorm forever, and most college graduates need to learn how to look for an affordable place to live near their occupation or graduate school. Eventually bills, cooking, cleaning, and other endless responsibilities follow. You’ll likely experience these things before you graduate college as well, which is why it’s imperative to know how to manage one’s money before stepping foot in a college class. According to SavingforCollege.com, 69% of the college Class of 2019 graduated with student loan debt. Unfortunately, not every college student takes an economics course, and many students don’t realize the importance of creating and sticking to a budget as they transition to postgrad independent living. In addition, a high proportion of high school graduates don’t plan to go to college. This group of students who sharply transition to adulthood without the college phase need financial education even more than the rest. 

Related: Money Management: The Best Budgeting Templates for Students 

Learning about relationships

Many students leaving home for college enter new cities surrounded by others in similar situations. Unfortunately, homesickness and distance from family members may cause freshmen to seek attention in unhealthy ways, which can result in toxic relationships and dating violence. It can be difficult for university administrators to help students avoid these issues on and off campus due to their adult age. Results from studies on schools and universities that have implemented programs to prevent these issues reveal the minimum aid that proved to be effective was instruction; although these programs weren’t proven to decrease relationship violence, student knowledge about relationships improved slightly. Learning how to make wise decisions in your social life is imperative, and what better setting to do this than high school?

Learning about personal safety

Whether you’re a child or an adult, avoiding people or things that may put you in harm’s way should be a priority. You can’t expect others to protect you if you can’t protect yourself. From sexual assault to food poisoning, the list of dangers is endless, but the one that needs the most clarity is drug abuse. Remember Red Ribbon Week at school? Each day of this special week, grade school students dress according to the theme each day with a punny slogan associated with being drug-free. Unfortunately, besides initiating discussions about who has the craziest socks or the best Halloween costume (to say “boo” to drugs), I personally haven’t seen any effect this campaign has had on reducing drug use among high school students. Changing the focal point from dress to drugs could bring this campaign back to what really matters in all schools. It’s important to learn about dangers that are present every day, and if you don’t take precautions like knowing how to respond when targeted, you may become a victim.

Related: 5 Smart Personal Safety Tips for Students

In the end, my Campaign for Change project received an A. But ironically, trying to persuade my teenage audience to consider the benefits of “adulting education” persuaded me to start preparing for when I turn 18. There’s no denying the importance of sitting down to deeply deliberate how you want your future to look like. My dream is to see a generation of high school students who desire to not only learn from their mistakes but also learn before the mistakes. Indeed, the road of life may be bumpy, but as the driver, you have control of the vehicle. This begs the question to you: what are you doing to be ready for adulthood?

From paying for college independently to figuring out health insurance to taking care of your car, find even more advice to help you prepare for the real world with our “adulting” hashtag.

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About Nicole Iwuala

Nicole Iwuala

Nicole Iwuala is a six-foot-tall high school student at Village Tech Schools in Duncanville, Texas. She’s an AP and dual-credit student who values hard work and independence. Not only is she a writer for CollegeXpress, but she also writes for her school’s yearbook and news website in addition to working as a math instructor. During her leisure time, Nicole loves to read literature, cook for her family, and study the Bible. Through her future-focused articles, she hopes to give students the knowledge and confidence to enter college like a champion.


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