Students need practical skills for the ‘real world’

Daniel Horowitz, Staff Writer

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This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Taxes, mortgages, doing your own laundry — these activities are essential to being a successful adult, but most young adults have no idea where to start. University education provides a wealth of knowledge on abstract theories and literature, a supposed greater understanding of the world. But when you’re stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, that doesn’t really matter. Since Tulane University students are on the verge of entering the real world, it is important that they learn practical skills that will help them after college.

The courses students take in college are meant to help them learn the necessary information for the fields they would like to work in after graduation. But there are some lessons beyond book smarts that they will need in the future that they may not learn in the classroom. Adults who have already graduated college have to deal with taxes. They have to deal with finding jobs and houses. They need to know how to do basic auto repair or first aid in an emergency.

Tulane already offers some classes that can certainly help students function in the real world. There are new courses centered on career and job hunting skills for students who want to know how to find jobs in their fields of interest. Some students are also able to take classes through the A.B. Freeman School of Business that teach the fundamentals of accounting and finance. These courses, however, are more geared toward business students.

There is also the option to take classes that can teach students more about government and constitutional law, which can give students background in basic knowledge of the law and voting. But, these are typically meant for students interested in political science. For students who would not typically take courses in the business school or the Department of Political Science, it can be inconvenient to find classes that help them do basic tasks that many post-grads need to know how to do.

There are several things Tulane can do to help students prepare for the real world. One option is for the school to expand the Career Development Office to offer general life skills classes. These courses could teach students more than just finding jobs and a career. They can teach students how to find houses, pay rent and taxes, balance checking accounts and fundamentals of handling money.

Financial obligations are only part of what students might need to know in the real world. According to U.S. News & World Report, only two-thirds of college-aged people know how to conduct basic car maintenance. Understanding this, Tulane should offer courses that teach people how to do simple tasks including changing a tire or jump-starting a car battery.

Including courses like this may seem like a waste of money, but other universities offer similar courses to students. For example, at the University of California, Davis, students have the option to take bike repair courses in what they call an experimental college.  

Tulane has a few good options for learning practical skills, but only for students in specific schools and majors. It is not too much to ask to have more life skills courses offered at Tulane that are not exclusive to certain departments. In order to be more well-rounded, contributing members of society, it is important to know how to do practical things that will help beyond the classroom.

Daniel is a sophomore at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected].