AKA: What High School Should Have Taught Me
There is one theme for class: "WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME?!?"
Our first lesson: Investing Without Money
I took an abbreviated Economics class during winter-break, my senior year at Amphitheater High School. Even less than three weeks long, this was one of the few classes attempting to teach something beneficial to any student. Understanding the basics of "supply and demand", "no such thing as a free lunch" - these are universally helpful to anyone about to become fully independent - but I could have learned more. If I spent a semester on it - or if my school offered more, I might have avoided wasting the two most precious resources we all have in limited quantities: time and money. Which is not to say I made "bad" choices, but I spent my time and money in ways that were less effective, and left me with less to show for it. I didn't even completely grasp "debt" until recently.
What's the difference? Nothing short of life changing. I could have renters paying down a home loan somewhere for me, instead of burning money on rent for myself and paying off a credit card.
More on that in a future post, but first I want to list what any high school student or college student, could do right now and for free, rather than waiting until adulthood to pay for the privilege of catching up with those who received better foresight.
P.E. - Physical. Education. Damn.
I hated P.E.
I avoided participating, doing the bare minimum to pass. The one positive experience I had came the final semester of my senior year, when I took "weight training" with a few friends. I wouldn't realize until after college, I could have gone further and benefited more, if I had started sooner and kept with it. Despite ending high school on that high note, I did not take a single physical class in university. By then the realities of working and paying rent became excuses for "not having time".
Gyms are intimidating, even for adults. But once you get out in the "real world", they're also expensive, and you have less time.
Lesson: I am not recommending you become a body builder, but one class, every semester, will be something you appreciate for the rest of your adult life.
Conclusion: Run those miles, do those pull-ups. Small investments in your body, are just like a retirement fund, and a healthier body saves you time and money too!
"Time" and "Money" are two scarce, precious resources we all battle with, no matter what kind of adult you become. Having a leg up could literally prove life changing. So here is the next underrated class every student should absolutely take:
Wood Shop/Auto Shop/Engineering.
For most of us, these classes will be your only chance to learn some basics of construction, repair, and mechanics. Can you take a community college course as an adult? Sure, its never too late, but it will cost you time and money. There's YouTube and other online resources for free, but they don't include a mentor, so you'll spend more time, plus more money on the resources a class will provide. Even if you go on to a trade school or apprenticeship, you will already have a foundation and advance more quickly than those starting from scratch.
Conclusion: Just like investing in your body saves long-term, the sooner you can fix your own table, change your own oil, and build your own computer, the fewer times you will waste money paying other to do it for you, and time waiting for them to do it on their schedule.
Finally, and perhaps the most surprising time-and-money-saving classes you can take are:
Music, photography, chorus, drama, painting, creative writing, or even foreign language. Just like careers, no one art will appeal to everyone, but everyone ends up being drawn to (at least) one art. Even though public school arts programs keep being slashed, the absolute best thing about high school is that in four years, you can try out many, and understand the basics with just a semester or two. The only thing more financially draining, and time consuming than pursing artistic goals as an adult is still needing to find which art you love.
Lesson: You can find and love one art, change as a person, throw an instrument away and take up culinary arts, or even... martial arts later! But the same way anyone will gain from investing in their body, investing in a passion has intellectual rewards. Everyone who finds their art, also finds like-minded friends, and creates their own support network based on passion. That network can lead to work or even marriage!
Conclusion: Many adults still have yet to discover this, and meander aimlessly through life, getting older, and still feeling alone and dissatisfied, especially the extremely wealthy, who end up being with people based on wealth and status, rather than art and passion. That is why nothing is a better investment for your future, than exploring the arts.
Tune in next for: Credit, Savings, and Debt - The Real Tri-Force of Adulting. and PLEASE comment and share this with young people. If it helps just one make better choices, than this has been a great investment of my time!
A footnote about P.E. (not for everyone, but from the heart). I was a "late-bloomer", and very self conscious, so for me, dressing out was like torture. No one explained it this way, but I realized in Japan, when I went to a public bath with some friends, if everyone is naked or changing, naked or changing is the thing to do to stand out less. If you feel like I once did, let me tell you: Modesty is not your friend. In a locker room, being bashful and uneasy draws more unwanted attention and teasing than any body type or imperfection you feel you have. Even professional models you may think are perfect, fret over their own perceived inadequacies. The safest mindset if you dread dressing out is "ugh, this is boring, let's hurry and get it over with". After even a just a few times dressing out with everyone else, you should realize it was no bid deal; a Boogeyman, hiding under your young-adult bed. If you are bullied, or worse, telling someone -- or better yet -- tell everyone! The only damage to your reputation is people will know you were picked on in a locker room, but a far worse reputation goes to the bully, for not being able to mind their business in a locker room. That is something they would be kicked out or locked up for if they did as an adult, so you'll be doing them a favor by teaching that lesson to them, too. I hope that makes sense, and provides some courage, confidence, or whatever you might feel lacking in.