Although there are a number of classes the high schools across the country require students to take, there are some definite knowledge gaps in most people once they graduate. Because of this, there are some classes that should be added to the curriculum as required. By requiring these three classes, the general public would become much more knowledgeable about real world situations that could prove to be invaluable.
Just take money for example. How many of you had an in-depth finance component to your curriculum? I know I sure didn’t. We covered all of the basics when it comes to math, history, and science, but upon graduation, most kids probably couldn’t even balance a checkbook. When you enter the real world for the first time and don’t have some basic knowledge in a number of key areas, it can lead to lifelong problems.
Here are a few courses that should be mandatory, and even if they are offered, if you are a student you’d do yourself a favor to focus extra hard in these three key areas.
One of the classes that is currently not required but should be is personal finance. In the area of personal finance, most people graduate from high school with no idea how to handle their money. They are used to getting an allowance or working at a minimum wage job, and they really don’t know what to do with their money. For example, they have no idea how credit cards really work, the effect interest rates have on debt, mortgages, and investments, or even the basic understanding of what it means to make a budget.
They don’t know how to balance a checkbook or how to save for retirement. They don’t know that having an emergency fund can literally keep them out of the poor house. If more schools put an emphasis on personal finance basics, young adults wouldn’t be facing nearly as many problems as they do today. Mistakes will still be made, sure, but this would go a long way in reducing them.
Economics is a subject that most high school students have very little knowledge about, nor do they care. In reality, everyone should at least have some kind of basic understanding about economic theory and how it works. There is a misconception that you only need to worry about economics if you plan on going into a business or finance field, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The economy impacts every one of us every single day. It shapes our politics, it shapes our country, and it impacts every single decision you make with your money.
While you may not be able to go out there and change the economy yourself, you will at least have a basic understanding of why things are they way they are, and you’ll be informed so that you can vote to put people in office that can address the issues at hand.
Although most high school students have to take some kind of English or literature class, they should also be required to take a comprehensive writing course. While not everyone needs to know how to be able to write a novel, everyone should have a basic understanding of how to communicate with the written word.
In almost every profession, you have to be able to write well. Whether you’re writing out employee evaluations, writing emails to customers, or writing business proposals, you need to have a basic grasp of how to write. In the digital age, writing has become even more important than ever. Careless or sloppy emails can be just as harmful as blowing off a meeting at work. Have you ever seen a co-worker send out an email that was full of grammar mistakes, lack of punctuation, or downright confusing content? Don’t be that person and make it a point to brush up on your writing skills even if you didn’t excel in this area in school.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.