Students should accumulate life skills through experience, not class


Experience is an aspect of life that is different for every single person. It is highly unlikely that you can find two of the same people characteristically, physically or even skillfully. The reason every college student goes through years of specialized undergraduate education is to focus on and excel in a specific field of the world. However, as cited by Psychology Today, a recent concern is the lack of life skills being taught to Americans of our generation through their college education. But life skills should be left up to students’ experience, rather than their formal education.

Life skills are defined as the ability to manage with stresses and challenges of daily life. Every decision we make, whether it is a physical action or a mental note, is part of a larger experience. Life skills also include the emotions that we develop in reaction to certain actions. These feelings, and life skills in general, simply can’t be learned in a classroom setting.

Many professionals argue that it is necessary for life skills to be recognized within schools. Learning to live in tight spaces and with roommates in possible bad conditions, social networking, financial budgeting and so forth can be utilized in the future and may come in handy if similar situations ever arise again.

In a recent article in the Huffington Post, it is argued that we should be taught budgeting, computer coding, emergency medical training and sustainable living, among other things — practical life skills that can be utilized on a daily basis. However, it is not possible for us as individuals, who coexist with billions of other people, to differentiate between each other or even learn from one another if we all have the same background material. The concept of experience would be completely obliterated.

In a Stanford report in 2009, researchers from the university claimed that people who are expected to absorb distinctly different information on a daily basis cannot pay attention.  Students in college are already expected to learn from a range of three to five different courses in a limited amount of time and then move on to the next quarter or semester. So adding on extra courses to learn things that are taught through experience and situations one encounters seems like a waste of time, money and brain power. College students shouldn’t be required to memorize “life skills” along with their main courses.

Quality always triumphs quantity. Most people want others they can rely on for well supported advice or opinion, not individuals who know merely the same information and attempt to create simplistic solutions. The way we develop life skills is different from other individuals, allowing us to have something that keeps us unique. I can see why a general knowledge course may be helpful. But trying to teach students everything doesn’t seem like the best solution nor does it sound like a smart one. It’s simple, really: Leave “life skills” up to experience and college for our specialized education; the more undivided attention, focus and brainpower that goes into one area of study results in more advancement and progress.

Today, in 2014, if there is an issue that needs to be resolved, the simple solution is to Google quick tutorials and answers or buy a “How To” book from your nearest bookstore. That’s what the Internet and bookstores are used for: to make your life easier and provide easy, accessible information fast. What you could learn in a 10-week session at your college can be condensed into one day of reading, viewing videos, or even consulting a friend who knows more about it than you.

Similarly, the theory that practice makes perfect is true. So tell me: What is the point of learning a general concept in college if you never utilize it in your four years at college? And then five years down the road if you can’t even recall which computer code to use to debug your electronic device, was it worth taking an entire class for it? The goal of a college student is to be the wisest at what he or she specializes in — not an expert on the tips and tricks of daily situations.


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