UC Berkeley now offering “Adulting” course for students who feel unprepared for life, and it’s a pass/fail

UC Berkeley now offering “Adulting” course for students who feel unprepared for life, and it’s a pass/fail

There's no guidebook for being an adult, but now there's a class

VicesDecember 12, 2019 By Will Brendza

There’s a disconnect between what students learn in the classroom and what they’re expected to know when they finally graduate and enter the “real world.” Especially in today’s academically driven culture, where helicopter parents hover like black hawks, enforcing academic rigor and bookish hard work. Apparently, classes like antebellum American literature, music therapy, advanced Aristotelian philosophy, and fat studies don’t do much to prepare students for independent day-to-day survival.

Go figure, right?

Well, the University of California at Berkeley has a new course that aims to address that problem: Adulting 101. A class designed by stressed out college students, for stressed out college students. A class to teach you all about living alone, how to manage your finances, plan your meals, cook for yourself and generally just exist in this strange and complicated world.

“We’re thrown out into this world and have little idea about what the heck we’re supposed to do,” Belle Lau, one of the creators of the Adulting Class, told the Los Angeles Times. “I think in general we all feel a little bit lost and don’t know where to start.”

Lau, along with her friend Jenny Zhou came up with the idea for the adulting class after both realizing that they, themselves, were underprepared for life away from home. When they moved out of the dorms and into apartments where they suddenly had to fend for themselves, they realized how much they didn’t know. It was a jarring transition, and one that adds stress and confusion to the already high intensity life of a college student trying to get by.

Classes like these are becoming more and more popular in schools across the country, in places like California and Oregon. Home economics classes were abandoned years ago, left behind in a dark closet to gather dust like an outdated desktop. Many saw these classes as a waste of time and academic credit. Why learn how to bake cakes, when you could be taking AP Chinese language?

Right, well, now those classes are back, with new names, and they’re gaining in popularity.

“College is a time of so many transitions — the losing of certain reference points — and it’s relatively sudden,” Nancy Liu, the UC Berkeley faculty sponsor for the adulting class, told the Los Angeles Times. “You’re on your own for the first time, you’re navigating a large system with limited support, you’re taken out of past comforts and starting anew, you have new tasks that you’ve never had to deal with before.”

Tasks that are essential to day-to-day life.

The first week of adulting classes students are asked to set goals that were Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based (SMART). The class syllabus includes things like time management, fitness and nutrition, budgeting, and relationships and is held once a week on campus for 90 minutes.

And the best part? It’s a pass/fail course. So, students who already feel overburdened and stretched thin by their other more-rigorous academic responsibilities, don’t feel needlessly weighted down because of their adulting class.

“Maybe it is our parents who aren’t teaching us these things we thought we should already know, but we don’t want to blame our parents for us being naive or ignorant,” Lau says. “It’s our responsibility as college students to know that if we’re struggling in some aspect, there are resources out there for us.”

It’s a symptom of a culture that’s too focused on the abstract and complex aspects of education, and overlooks the necessary most useful lessons. Just because something is supposed to be foundational knowledge doesn’t mean it’s common knowledge. Adult life skills are just as deserving of their own college course, as is something like abstract complex mechanical mathematics. Without someone to teach it to you, you’re lost.