What Is High School Actually Preparing Us For?

You’ve just graduated high school and you’re wondering what’s your next step. For most the obvious answer would be to go to college. But what about those who don’t want to or don’t have the option to continue on the academic path? Those people become adults and at that moment they have to find a way to live independently without certain necessary skills because they weren’t given the chance to learn them while in high school. Even those who go on to college still may not gain the necessary skills to become successful adults.

So this raises a question: why aren’t useful skills or just knowledge that is needed in adulthood taught in high school?

There are subjects that need to be taught and should be taught for us to learn to be independent and understand how the world works. We’re expected to have a plan and an understanding of certain things that go unspoken when we become adults. It’s “common knowledge,” and yet it was learned by people through experiences we don’t have. 

It’s not the teachers deciding what we learn, rather it’s those in charge of our curriculum who are responsible. Once a week (or more), we should attend classes where we learn a skill that could help us so that we can succeed, not just academically. We must understand the world a little better before we’re thrown into it. We’ve been living in the world as children without the need to know how to do certain things. 

When Ms. Runkle, the school counselor, was asked what does it mean to be a successful adult to her, she said many things but the one that stuck with me was that she is “able to live independently, pay bills, not depend on people.” Those are key skills that I keep hearing about when speaking of adults. 

But currently, we don’t receive lessons on things we’ll definitely have to deal with once we’re done with school, like how to apply for jobs, tips for interviews, how your resume should look, what taxes are, what different kinds of debt could you go into. As much as I want to focus on the hopeful things, we also need to be prepared for negative situations and problems we could have to face once we no longer have that safety of being a minor and/or in high school. 

The argument can be made, of course, that school is for academics so we shouldn’t expect to learn things that don’t have to do with academics. But it’s also true that school is the step in between our childhood and future adulthood. If we are expected to accomplish things and become independent people, shouldn’t we start learning what is necessary at the place where learning is done? 

Like most of us, I’m someone who is constantly thinking about my future, and the life that I want to live. It’s sometimes hard for me to care about school or anything relating to academics if I feel as though it’s just going to be useless and not make it easier for me once I leave. It’s hard to know that if I want to learn anything that is actually going to affect me I have to ask someone outside of school instead of just learning it in the place that I’m supposed to learn in while it’s free and mandatory. I don’t know what I need to know, and I don’t know what’s going to happen after high school.

If success is important, why aren’t we learning how to actually succeed once academics are no longer in the equation? If enough people realize the way we learn and what we learn needs to be reevaluated, maybe we could be better prepared for life once we leave high school behind.