Adulting Classes For Millennials Are a Real Thing & They’re Trending


Adulting Classes For Millennials Are a Real Thing & They're Trending

College students need help “adulting”… but why?

Remember when the goal of school was to prepare children to become adults? The idea was that teachers would give students all the information they needed to function in society, and after they graduated they’d become useful and productive grownups? Apparently, those days are long gone because college students (and adults) are now signing up for “adulting” classes to teach them how to… well… adult.

At UC Berkeley, they offer a class in adulting where they teach students how to do things like manage a budget, follow a recipe and pay their bills on time. In Portland, Maine, there’s an actual Adulting School that just started offering online classes in everything from patching a hole in a wall to how to sew a button.

We’ve had clients who are millennials having major anxiety that they didn’t have these skills and didn’t feel successful as an adult,” she said. “There’s a lot of self-loathing that happens.”

-Rachel Flehinger – co-founder
The Adulting School, Portland, ME

Classes like these have raised more than a few eyebrows with a good share of the blame aimed at parents. First, there’s the helicopter parent that’s always there hovering around their child to essentially do everything for them. Of course, kids might need a little bit of help now and then, but helicopter parents don’t let their kids do anything and those kids become adults that don’t know how to do anything on their own. The same is true for lawnmower parents who simply bulldoze anything that gets in their child’s way. By eliminating every obstacle that comes their way, their children essentially live life on the lowest difficulty setting and eventually get a rude awakening when Mommy and Daddy aren’t around anymore.

Some students say another problem they ran into was parents who simply never took the time to show them how to do things like change a flat tire or balance a checkbook. In some cases, it was because parents were flat out too busy, but in other cases, it had to do with parents drilling the importance of succeeding in school over everything else. That produced a lot of kids who were straight-A students but didn’t know how to leave a 15% tip at a restaurant.

Speaking of the importance of succeeding in school… the insane pressure we put on students (and teachers) to make everyone pass all their state assessments leaves little time during the day to focus on anything but the core subjects. These days if there isn’t a state test associated with a class it’s considered an afterthought. The increased emphasis on “core subjects” over the last 30+ years has led to a drastic de-emphasis on many classes that used to be considered mandatory. 

Belle Lau is one of the students at Berkeley who actually started teaching the Adulting class there. She says students have spent so much time cracking the books, they never had time to do things like learn to crack an egg.

We’re thrown out into this world and have little idea about what the heck we’re supposed to do. I think in general we all feel a little bit lost and don’t know where to start.”

-Belle Lau Teacher of Adulting at Berkeley

Many of the skills that millennials are lacking these days used to be covered in classes like Home Economics, Business Economics, and Wood Shop. Back in the day, these classes were mandatory. Sure, we may not have perfected the art of crafting the world’s greatest souffle, but at least we were able to follow directions to a basic recipe and make some pancakes. Maybe we didn’t finish our woodworking projects, but at least we knew how to use basic tools and how not to hammer our thumbs. Nowadays, these classes are considered electives if they’re even offered at all.

Whatever the reason, there are more and more people every day getting thrown into the real world with little idea of how to manage it. Classes like these can help but might be too late for some. Hopefully, as we continue to work on education reform we’ll pay attention to the generation of adults we’re creating and do something to save them from needing even more student loans to cover adulting school.

Adulting Classes For Millennials Are a Real Thing & They're Trending

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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