What students actually WANT to learn

by ALISON LEVIER Photographer/Videographer

With college rearing its beautiful, yet horribly daunting head for so many of us so soon, it is imperative that we, as students, soak in as much knowledge as we can before we are tossed like salad into the “real world.”

Now, I am no expert at “real world” things, obviously, for I have lived for 17 glorious years in the comfy, warm blanket of suburban privilege, but there are some things that I am truly worried about doing when it comes time for me to live on my own.

I know how to find x and y, even when they are hiding in the most inconvenient of equations. I (kind of) know how to find linear velocity. I even know how to correctly execute MLA format WITH a Works Cited page.

But, do I know how to buy insurance? Work an online checking account? CHANGE A FLAT TIRE?! The answer is no; otherwise, I would not be wasting your time with this article.

At lunch one day, I posed the question, “What do we need to know how to do when we graduate?” Below are the responses of seniors Andrea French, Amanda Campanaro, Alyssa Clemente, Liz Marchese, Kirsten Pasewaldt, Kristin Celendano, and Caitlin Flannigan.

1. Applying to College — How do we fill out applications? What should I put on my resume?

2. Paying Bills — When I live alone, how am I supposed to pay my electric bill? How do I choose the right cable service? What about phone bills? How long should I stay on my parents’ plan? How am I supposed to get off of my parents’ plan?

3. Jobs — How do I make a resume? What would a typical job interview be like? How much longer do I have to only be making minimum wage before I can get a real job?

We then got into a discussion about what can be done to correct this lack of knowledge of everyday things that teachers seem to just assume we will know but don’t actually ask us if we understand. The numbered suggestions below correlate with the numbered problems above.

1. Applying to College – Our first suggestion is to replace a fourth year of math with a college prep course, or spend more time in senior English going over essay formatting for college essays. We use MLA now, but from what I hear, its reign will soon come to an end.

I have been told by friends in different colleges that MLA takes the back seat to other essay formats, and you are expected to be familiar with it upon your arrival to your respective university. That is horribly frightening for us as seniors because we have grown so accustomed to MLA format throughout the last four years of our lives.

If this is indeed the case, why can’t we always just use the format that colleges expect us to use? If I choose to be a history major, I will be using the Chicago format far more often than MLA format. It just seems like a waste of time to drill something in our heads that we may not even be using in our higher education. From freshman year, the goal of a school system should be to prepare its students to thrive and succeed in college and the real world.

College applications are a huge part of our lives, and it is like we just get pushed off of a cliff into the less-than-welcoming arms of the Common App. As students, we want as much guidance as possible through this process.

Stop holding our hands through lessons like “annotation process” or “ways to be a good reader” and start paying attention to what’s really stressing us out. I promise, we know how to write a question to ourselves in the margin of a text. I also promise that we have close to no idea what colleges are specifically looking for.

2. Paying Bills – This one is an easy fix. Stuff like paying a bill is gently touched on in Personal Finance, but could definitely be elaborated on more. This brings us back to the college prep course instead of math. Real-world application is what students crave. And I am not talking about stupid word problems about mass amounts of oranges that John bought at the grocery store. I’m talking real, hands-on stuff that we need to know anyway.

Why can’t we go over how to do a tax return in math class? Senior year math should be all about money, if you ask me. There is so much to be learned and we are running out of time before we all go broke. OH, HEY, almost forgot about student loans! How are we supposed to pay those suckers off? I don’t know!

3. Jobs – Here we are again, going back to the college prep course that students want so badly. Somewhere, in some class, we should have a unit on how to create a resume. It’s plain, simple, and probably an easy lesson to teach. Also, there should be an environment where we can have a practice job interview. One of the most nerve-wracking things is going into an interview, and none of us have any idea what to do when we get there. It’s terrifying.

As students, we don’t want guidance in silly places like addition and subtraction, we want to be taught how to be real, functioning members of society. Personally, I have never had to ask a stranger to help me find x, but I have had to ask a stranger to help me jump start my car.

There comes a point where we must take it upon ourselves to learn the unknown, and the important things must become self-taught. It’s a scary world, but YouTube and Google make it better:

  1. How to jump start a car

  2. Creating a resume

  3. Job Interview Dos

  4. Chicago Format

  5. APA Format

  6. 25 Things Everyone Should Know Before Going to College

What do you think? Are you learning everything you need to know in school? Tell us in the comments!

#Collegeprep #MLAFormat #mths #RealWorld #AlisonLevier

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