UC Berkeley is offering a class on adulting because there's a lot of stuff we've missed by the time we get to college

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

Adulting is hard. We've all seen the memes where someone's complaining about doing a basic adult activity, like washing and putting away laundry. An entire generation has an aversion to the requisite tasks of maturity that were seemingly secondhand generations before. We don't know how to balance a checkbook. We don't know if we people even "do" checkbooks anymore. It's not that we're incompetent or lazy or dumb. It's that we never learned how.

Home economics used to be a common part of the high school curriculum, but in the past decade, enrollment in home economics classes has fallen by 40%. When we think of home economics, we might think of girls in the 1950s being trained to bake cakes for their future husbands, but many home economics classes teach skills vital to independent living, including money management?

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Parents haven't picked up the slack, either. Parenting has shifted from a focus on imparting basic life skills to a focus on achievements. "Helicopter parenting," in which parents come in and save their children when they get into trouble, has created perfectionist children unable to fend for themselves in the wild.

In short, adulting is hard because people don't know how to do it. An entire generation of people well into adulthood know advanced, complex mathematical formulas but feel overwhelmed by even the thought of making and keeping a budget. Hence the need for college-level adulting classes.

UC Berkeley is now offering a class on adulting. Two students, Belle Lau and Jenny Zhou, came together to create the class after they began living on their own for the first time. They noticed that their peers also felt as if there was a gap in their education. "We're thrown out into this world and have little idea about what the heck we're supposed to do," Lau told the Los Angeles Times. "I think in general we all feel a little bit lost and don't know where to start."

The class is a student-run course through the university's DeCal (Democratic Education at Cal) program. In the program, students are able to create and run their own classes on subjects that aren't necessarily covered in the university's traditional classes. Like adulting.

The class focuses on skills like time management, budgeting, fitness, nutrition, and relationships. Zhou and Lau bring in outside experts to teach students about life skills, such as the recruiter from Lyft who spoke about looking for a job or the former accountant who taught students how to file taxes.

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Even if it's not our fault that we weren't taught how to adult, it is our fault if we never learn to adult. "Maybe it is our parents who aren't teaching us these things we thought we should already know, but we don't want to blame our parents for us being naive or ignorant," Lau told the Los Angeles Times. "It's our responsibility as college students to know that if we're struggling in some aspect, there are resources out there for us."

Hopefully, future generations will understand both advanced subjects and basic life skills.

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