Remember Paul Simon’s song “Kodachrome”? Part of the lyrics mentions ‘all the crap I learned in high school.’ A few years ago I decided to write a novel. Boy, I sure had a lot to learn—and unlearn, too. Writing for your English teacher is worlds away from producing a story with realistic characters and dialogue. I’m thankful that there are a lot of generous authors on the web who are willing to share their insights. However, what we learned in public school English was a necessary foundation to build on.
Speaking of crap we learned in high school, I never did figure out what sine, cosine, and tangent were all about. I’ve been told it’s used in civil engineering, like building bridges. Why didn’t our math teachers show us what geometry, trigonometry, and algebra had to do with life? We were given formulas and told to fill them in. I had no idea what any of it was for or how I might use it, but I did the work and filled in the formulas so I could graduate. Twenty years after high school I learned to quilt. That’s when I figured out geometry. To be fair, the math chip in my brain is missing or at least severely impaired. Maybe I wouldn’t have understood no matter what the teacher did.
Yes, I do understand that we have to learn a whole lot of stuff since most of us don’t have any idea what we want to be when we grow up. Still, I wish a lot more time was spent on real life. Like buying a used car, getting a place to live, the intricacies of purchasing a house. Not only all the math involved, but how to determine if the used car is in good condition, how to get the utilities turned on in the apartment, having inspections on the house before you sign on the dotted line and understanding the necessary maintenance required by a house and a car.
Getting a grip on the stock market and how to invest wisely would have been helpful. Young adults need to know about business and taxes and employment benefits.
It’s sad that our kids go to school for twelve years, or thirteen if they go to kindergarten, but are not prepared or skilled enough to make a living wage when they graduate. They might be ready for college, but not for getting a job and moving from their parents’ house to their own apartment or house. Sure, they can work fast food and a few other mostly dead-end jobs, but it will take years if ever, to make enough to live on their own.
So, the new high school graduates go to college. Whether they graduate or not, they are rooted in debt because colleges/universities are so expensive that it’s difficult for most parents to provide significant financial help, especially if there are two or more children in the family. The parents make too much money for the student to qualify for anything other than loans. When the young adult graduates with a bachelor’s degree, he/she has about $30,000 of debt and six months to get a job and start making payments of approximately $300 per month. It still may take a while before he/she can get out on their own. Which leads to another rant, the cost of housing.
Whatever happened to ‘starter homes’? They were simple, adequate-size houses in decent neighborhoods where people could afford to buy their first house. As their income increased over the next few years, they sold their starter house and moved up to a larger, better house. Nobody builds starter homes anymore, only sizable domiciles with attractive, but often unnecessary, extras and substantial monthly payments plus HOA dues. Small one bedroom apartments cost over one thousand dollars a month, just a few dollars less than a house payment. How can young adults afford to live? Many can’t and live at home much longer than they or their parents prefer. Some share expenses with roommates. That often doesn’t work because the roommates don’t stay and don’t contribute to the rent and utility bills.
It seems to me that ‘adulting’ is far more difficult now than when I was young. However, I have observed that this crop of twenty-somethings are more resourceful and a bit tougher than my generation. God plants each of us in the place and time that we should be (Acts 17:26-27), so I'm confident that the millennials will get it figured out.