Skills High Schoolers Should be Taught


Saniya Laungani and Raissa Ji

People often joke, “What’s the point of learning y = mx + b? I have never used it a day in my life.” While there are many applications of a linear equation in real life, the statement holds some truth. What’s the point of learning about trends in the periodic table? Do I really need to know how to find the integral of x2? So what if William Henry Harrison was the shortest-serving U.S. President? Now, don’t get me wrong—chemistry, calculus, and U.S. history are all important subjects to learn. However, what about taxes? How about mental illnesses? How does a credit card even work? Schools aren’t teaching useless subjects. Schools are just simply not training enough.


Knowing how to make important financial decisions is essential for a high schooler to learn, especially because they start making these decisions from a young age. However, learning about math does not equate to financial success. According to the Council for Economic Education, over 1 in 6 students in the United States have not reached the baseline level of proficiency within financial literacy. A strong understanding of finances helps students become more confident when spending or earning money, teaches them the importance of savings and investing, and overall expands on their life skills. A survey conducted by the Council of Economic Education claims that 1 in 4 millennials spend more than they earn, leading to a hard life after high school. Thus, highschoolers should know how to pay bills and build good credit; without good credit, they would be unable to borrow loans from banks or apply for credit cards, among other difficulties. A study in 2019 by CNBC showed that 8% of people do not understand the ins and outs of taxes. Because many parents may be a part of that demographic, their children are virtually left to figure out how to pay bills and taxes themselves, without any of the school system’s help.


Mental health is also a topic that should be heavily covered in schools because many adolescents develop these disorders but don’t have a support system or knowledge on how to deal with it. As recorded by BrainForest, 50% of teens at the age of 14 experience mental illness and 75% of people have experienced a mental illness by the age of 24. According to Domestic Violence Services, the curriculum must teach the future generation about mental health since the third leading cause of death amongst people ages 15-25 is suicide. Inc 33% of teen girls in the United States receive physical, emotional. Verbal abuse from a significant other, which exceeds different types of youth violence. School is where we all make friendships. Learning about mental health and its cause will help determine healthy relationships.


The final umbrella of skills high schools should be taught are daily life skills: street smarts, public speaking, and cooking. When it comes down to it, these are the bare minimum of skills necessary to function in society and live. First, especially if a high schooler will live in a larger or rougher city, like Manhattan, Chicago, or the Bronx, street smarts are super important. Thus, schools should teach students to develop strong situational awareness and recognize danger (like gang/cult symbols or scammers). Additionally, confidence and strong public speaking skills are crucial to succeeding in a company or communicating in general. Most job interviewers judge candidates by their enthusiasm and aura in their speech and body language, so this skill must be taught to high school students. And finally, cooking—an essential skill of all to learn out of high school. Once a high schooler leaves their parents’ home or their dorm in college, door-dashing or postmating every day just won’t suffice. They’re going to need to know how to cook themselves, even if it’s just simple tasks like boiling water for spaghetti, cooking fried eggs, or just learning how to buy the best produce in grocery stores.


Many argue that there’s no need to change the school system since it has been standard for so long. This static mindset is detrimental because an overwhelming amount of studies and statistics show that we need change and teach more. Once these high schoolers graduate and become independent, many feel lost about having to make difficult choices they were not prepared for or taught about. If students cannot learn how to pay their bills, cook, or use credit cards, it doesn’t matter how good they are at biology. Our current school system does not let students show their individuality, and so these skills regarding finance, mental health, and life, in general, could potentially be taught in after-school programs or workshops, free for all who want to attend and learn.