Here are some things I learned in high school that I have not really used, in any capacity, since the four years I spent there:

  • Geometric proofs
  • The ability to analyze Nathaniel Hawthorne 
  • The conception of power explained in Machiavelli’s “The Prince” 
  • Calculus
  • Really anything I learned in my anatomy and physiology class beyond an elementary-school level recollection of the skeletal system

To be fair, I did major in journalism and political science, so maybe these classes would have been more useful at the collegiate level had I selected a more profitable field of work. Still, I find it hard to believe that I spent hours poring over the Puritan themes of “The Scarlet Letter,” while neglecting some other important life skills.

Here are some things I wish I had learned in high school:

  • A less Western-centric version of history 
  • Time management (managed to get through both high school and college without mastering this one)
  • Anything about finance.

While we’re on the subject of finance, here are some particular topics that would have been very good to know, based on my first few months of real adulthood:

  • How to do my taxes
  • What to look for when reading a lease
  • When and how to apply for a credit card
  • How to choose a bank or credit union
  • How to make a budget 
  • How to stick to a budget
  • How to cut your living expenses when you’re low on cash
  • How to start investing 
  • What financial freedom means and how one can work toward it

With some googling and the occasional panicked text message to my dad, I’ve managed to figure some of it out. But to all the other young people out there learning this on the fly and wishing you’d been given you some sort of textbook on adulthood, I feel you. I am also winging it. 

To all the financial institutions out there: let’s work together to bridge this gap. Take it from a struggling twenty-something — we need your help.