5 Life Skills High Schools Should be Teaching Seniors

Here’s something you probably already know…high school students aren’t exactly happy with their education. At least that’s what Jezebel is telling us. Apparently high school students feel like their education is not preparing them enough for college.

And frankly, I don’t blame them. Not just because I think there should be more emphasis on math and science or something like that, but because I genuinely feel that high school doesn’t do enough to prepare students for college inside and outside of the classroom. Networking? Time management? These things matter too, a lot more than AP scores or SATs.

1. Survival Skills. I’m not trying to take us back to the days of home economics, believe me. But I think there is something to be said for high schools offering their students the means to learn some basic survival skills. A few quick and easy snacks for late night studying. Some meals that can be made in the dorm room. A few basic rules for laundry room virgins. These are things college students need to know, but I’d be really surprised if any high school offered courses in them.

2. Networking Skills. Colleges put a lot of emphasis on these skills because they’re a great asset when trying to find a job, but they’re also a great asset when applying to college. Think college interviews. Meetings with advisors. Getting to know faculty parties. All those events that colleges throw with alumni and business partners who they’ve already hired from? All the people these students meet? Wouldn’t a few tips offered up in high school go a long way?

3. Computer Skills. College is about presentations and research papers, Excel spread sheets and charts and graphs. And while some colleges require students take basic computer classes, they wouldn’t need to if high school classes taught more than basic typing. I understand that resources are limited and not all schools have access to enough computers for students to learn these skills but those that do should take full advantage of them.

4. Writing Skills. Whether you’re a science major or an English major you will be spending a large chunk of your time in college writing. But more college students than we realize enter freshman year without even understanding how to cite sources properly. Research skills, writing skills, the ability to analyze an argument. These are the types of skills high school seniors should be learning in English classes. Not how to best beat that AP Lit. test.

5. Time Management. Every high school senior should be heading off to college to take this one because let’s face it, just about every high school senior needs it. In high school we didn’t really need time management skills. We went to school, did our thing, went home, did the homework we couldn’t avoid and repeated the process. Now things are just a little bit different. There’s all this free time and it seems like we should be able to get things done but five hours on Facebook go by fast. Teaching students how to organize their life, schedule their classes, and make time for school and a social life would probably be the greatest skill high school teachers could give soon to be college freshman.

Your turn. What do you wish your students had taught you about preparing for college?  



  1. Erin says:

    What were you learning in high school? Sounds like you missed a bit. And there's a reason there' college- you still need to learn stuff after high school anyways.

  2. Class of 2011 says:

    I agree with networking. I know at my high school little is done in that arena besides one day of mock interviews your junior year (which are a joke). Time management is also very important is the modern world where distractions are almost inevitable.
    But as a current AP Lit student, it appears to me that your description of the course is inaccurate. While I'm sure the class is not on exactly on par with the skills needed in college writing, from graduated friends I know that it does prepare you for the learning curve at most schools.
    " …without even understanding how to cite sources properly."
    How do you make it to senior year without these skills? I don't think you could make it past without it.
    "Research skills, writing skills, the ability to analyze an argument. These are the types of skills high school seniors should be learning in English classes. Not how to best beat that AP Lit. test."
    Those are the same skills tested on AP Lit (and more so on Lang). While I understand that teachers do often "teach to the test," the class isn't completely off base.
    Just my thoughts.

  3. Sarah says:

    Some of these things are things that should be taught by parents. I learned to do laundry around 12, and starting cooking at a very young age. That way, when I left home, I'd be able to fend for myself. Also, time management skills can't really be taught in a classroom–that's why elementary schools now have parents sign little sheets saying that their child did the homework on time. I agree about the writing skills, because for writing all we learned were persuasive essays and were then told to throw all that knowledge out senior year of high school. Which sucked, really. But for the computer skills, I agree to an extent. Yeah, some programs have little shortcuts which someone can teach you. But you can also just look at the help section or figure it out yourself. What people should really be learning is how to be self-sufficient, and try and figure out things on their own without finding someone to run to or to blame.

    1. Gharvx says:

      Sad fact however is that you'd be amazed at how many "parents" pitch their kids out into the world without having parted a single life lesson on them. I see it every day. I think the phrase "it takes a whole village to raise a child" might come from the fact that someone has to look out for the kids of the village idiots.

  4. criolle johnny says:

    1. Showing up at a laundry with five baskets of your wet laundry from another facility with no dryers is bad etiquette. Use the right fork.
    2. Get a job in high school. Not for the money, the life skills you learn will help you forever.
    3. Computer skills: It amazes me that students who can text at 35 words a minute do no know how to attach a file to an email.
    4. Citing sources is considered an advanced skill. Subject verb agreement is a lost art and often grounds for long debates about cultural values and/or accusations of discrimination.
    5. "I don't have tiiii-iime!", usually heard the last week of the semester. Mark it on your calender.

    1. criolle johnny says:

      6. Proofread your own damn posts, "do no know" should be "do not know".

      Duh OW!

  5. […] • 5 Life Skills High Schools Should Be Teaching Seniors […]

  6. Jenna says:

    While i agree many of these skills are important and some perhaps should be covered in high school, I think it's much more important that students learn to be self sufficient and show a little initiative. If you don't know how to do your laundry or cook, it should be fairly obvious how to acquire these skills. Likewise computer skills can often be self taught. I don't think it's the job of high schools or colleges to teach students everything they need to know to become competent adults.

  7. Bob says:

    Students should learn their rights when it comes to talking to police officers. Too many times I see people get into trouble when they could have got away clean because they open their mouths, give up their rights, and incriminate themselves.

  8. iris says:

    My husband is 45 and he still doesn't know how to do laundry.

  9. E ileen says:


    Well young lady, I'm not sure where you went to school but at our HS, students do have Family and Consumer Sciences (no longer called Home Economics), and they do learn those survival skills you mentioned and many more. I'm feeling bad for you to have attended a HS that was not well rounded.

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