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Are young adults today lacking life skills that inhibit them to determine an individual life track?

So I'm an Asian American raised under immigrant parents who came to this country to start a family. Therefore, I wasn't taught much about the system pertaining to everyday life skills. For example,

*How to do taxes
* What taxes are
* How to vote
* What political parties are
* How to write a resume/cover letter/anything related to getting a job
* How to write a check/balance a check book
* Anything to do with banking
* How to do loans for college
* How to jump start a car or other basic emergency things
* How to buy a car or house

We are distracted with the free flow of information that we forget how essential these skills are in order to promote confidence for independence.

I understand that these can be learned through parents or as you go on, but what about the 99% protesting on Wall Street? If they knew about credit scores or interest rates, would so many students have taken out those loans?

Throughout my study, I found most high school graduates who are going to college don't have any idea of what they want to study. I believe it is because they lack the confidence to believe in themselves to pursue a higher purpose in life.

I hope I explained my idea clearly enough as this is my first conversation here on TED. I hope to hear from most of you!

  • Aug 12 2013: As a parent of a special needs child as well as two neuro-typical children I am intrigued by the thread in this conversation concerning confidence. Confidence comes from success. Success comes from overcoming failure. We have so aggressively pursued high self esteem in our children that we foolishly defined success as the accomplishment of any goal no matter how small. We have all felt that sinking feeling when we have been praised for doing something that we know was too easy to deserve praise. If we set harder tasks for our children and higher praise for overcoming failures and genltle chiding for choosing tasks beneath our childrens level of capability, we would have children who aspire to greater things. We would have youth that take on tasks of greater importance and invent their own futures instead of trying to decide what to study. I am of an age where it was common to have your first job when you were 13 or 14. That is when I learned from my Dad how to file my taxes. My kids learned that as well when they had their first jobs at 14. I learned to jump start a car when I bought the car I could afford with the wages from the job I got when I was 13. And, those lesson continued then as they do now. I firmly believe that the failure of our children to have a passion to pursue their future is often result of a failure of parents to set a higher bar than just high self esteem.
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    Aug 1 2013: Just pointing out that many things are learned by doing them. I did not know how to do most of those things when I was a young adult either. I learned by getting a job, managing money, buying a beater car, buying a house like most people my age did. A little experience goes a long way.

    I'm pretty sure today's young adults will learn that way too. Either that or look it up on the internet.
  • Aug 7 2013: You are right. As a college professor of more than 25 years of experience, I would say that American young people have been shortchanged in the last 30 years by an increasingly failing educational system--K to College. Right now our system does a poor job of teaching the facts as we know them, good critical thinking skills to deal with those facts, and a good work ethic. When I was young we got life and school lessons every day. We were basically presented with a simple equation--the harder you work, the better you will do. This still true today, but hard work is 'so last year man....', and young people grow up not ever learning what only hard work can teach you about yourself. In other words, mowing the lawn is just as important as knowing your times tables. One way to look at this goes to your point about knowing interest rates and would that have meant those who couldn't afford them not taking the loans. The answer is NO, it would not have affected the outcome significantly. Why? Because when you grow up never having faced the consequences that only hard work can show you, then you will not take the threats of bad things happening as a result of certain behaviors seriously. Simply put, hard work is a great metaphor for life. If you aren't careful and fall off the ladder painting the kitchen wall, you never forget it. Those physical experiments and 'burnt fingers' help us understand the abstract hypothetical consequences of not having enough money. But when we don't have any of those physical experiences, we are less capable of generalizing to other life events. Another way to put it is that hard work teaches us common sense, and common sense would tell you not to take money you can't pay back. Also, hard work helps us develop confidence in ourselves. No matter how smart you are, nothing teaches you how to meet the fair and unfair challenges of real life like hard work. Time to stop the fluffy nonsense in US education and get back to hard work and basics.
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    Jul 16 2013: Abraham, you are very observant.

    As an immigrant myself, I also was not taught zippity dooda.

    I had to learn to do things on my own once I left high school.

    It has served me well.
    I do not depend on anyone to resolve issues.
    I know how to live independently, and I'm self motivated.

    I think as you grow older, you will realize that you cannot justify ignorance.
    You have to learn on your own, and look for things on your own.

    Expecting others to do the leg work for you is not healthy.

    Today in the information super-age.....there is just no excuse for not knowing.
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      Jul 16 2013: Yes you are absolutely right that we all learn on our owns how to solve problems through interaction and hands-on experience. However, I believe that teaching children and ensuring they go the right way is the responsibility of schools and parents as well. No one was born with knowledge in his head, but we gather information as we grow and interact with people around us and it is these people that shape us who we are.

      We can't just leave our children to learn everything by themselves. We've got to guide them or else they may go the wrong way. You maybe lucky that you got on the right track but there are hundreds or even thousands of kids out there who don't. There are youth crime, teenagers suiciding, drug addiction, high youth unemployment and so much more. We can't just assume that children will learn best through the Internet. Information over the net is overloaded this generation, with a vast majority of the content are unverified. Moreover, the mind of an adolescent is complicated, and unlike that of adult, they are turbulence and struggling with inner-self problems. As a teenager I understand how hard it is to be on your own and unknown of where to start and which is the right way to go. We already have a hard time defining who we are and how we fit into these worlds. We've got a lot of questions to ask but we don't know who to get to and who would listen to us.

      I think children need to be prepared before they are thrown into the harsh world. You can't just leave them to figure everything out by themselves because maybe they would have broken down before they make it that far. The idea is to prevent bad outcomes before they happen.
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        Jul 16 2013: Hello Son Huynh,

        As a teacher, and a mother, I really have to agree with what you say.
        My parents could not help me because they spoke Spanish, and we were in the United States, at a time when there were not too many other speakers of Spanish around to help us.

        Once I learned English, then I served as interpreter, and helper to my parents.

        I answered Abrahams question directly.....because he used the experience of being an immigrant, and that resonated with me.

        But, I agree with you, as a parent, I have been helping my own children to be independent when they start to live on their own.

        Something I did not have, but that would have helped me tremendously.

        I think something that did help me, was the fact that my parents taught us morals and values.
        Right from wrong.

        I want to continue to exchange ideas with you.
        You speak with a lot of insight.

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          Jul 17 2013: Thank you Mary. I think you have great parents there.

          Also thanks for addressing the "immigrant" side of the conversation that most of us haven't paid much attention to. Personally in my view, the walls that are obtruding the immigrants from integrating with the host society are the language barrier and culture clash.

          But you are right. If this question is more directed to the "immigrant" side, then we have a whole different problem. Because normal kids without life skill is less worrying than immigrant kids without any preparations.
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        Jul 18 2013: Oh, you're welcome Son Huynh, thank you also for your thoughts.

        You know, I thought, that the point of Abraham's introduction was to point out how he lacked certain skills due to having immigrant parents.

        I will say, though, that many young people lack certain knowledge because of a lack of communication between their parents and them.

        I don't think it is mutually exclusive to immigrant families.

        As a matter of fact, usually children of immigrants master the English language before their parents, and are in a great position to end up helping their parents with all these life skills.............and in a way, this helping of the parents, helps them also.
        I remember having to translate letters for my dad, and reading signs, and instructions in manuals, and also making phone calls for, I just now remembered all that!!

        Each family is different.....the important thing is that there is good open communication.
        And, that parents take advantage of teachable moments to expose their children to life skills which they will need as adults.

        This is a wonderful conversation.

        I hope more young people participate.
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      Jul 16 2013: Mary M, You make me shy. Now i'm 24 years old and i am student. Although I have some part-time jobs but i still have to live depend on my parents. Because 4 years ago, i caught a strange disease, it was called halluciation of hearing. But i didn't agree to give up my university to cure myself. Near 3 years later, my result in University was so bad, so my parents forced me to reserve one year in university to cure myself. One year later, i returneId my university, everything with me is very strange. My friends graduated. I had no friends. I liked a fresh student.
      Everybody say that I am lack of life skill so much. I often create trouble for other people and don't know how to deal with problems in the real life.
      I admire u so much. You are a mirror with me. I have to learn many things from u so much.
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        Jul 16 2013: Le Hoai, thank you for answering my simple comment.

        You are so very brave.

        I am on my way out of my home now, but I will come back and write some more later today.

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        Jul 17 2013: Le Hoai, let me just come back and say that we humans are a work in progress.

        Sometimes we feel like we are creating trouble for others, but in reality, we are in need of help until we learn to handle things ourselves.

        Be patient with yourself, and continue to reach out to your family.
        Family is very important.

        I hope you will learn much from participating in our TED community.
        There are a lot of kind individuals on here with a lot of years of life experience.

        You might not agree with everything you read, but you can always take what you find useful, and ignore the rest.

        It is nice meeting you.
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          Jul 19 2013: Thank you so much. Your advice is very useful for me. Now it is my summer holiday and I am working in a company.
          My wish is simple: to have fresh new start. But if I want a new beginning, it has to start from within. I’m not a perfect person. In fact, I’m a perfectly imperfect person. Being perfect is not something I seek, because it is not possible. But do you know what is? Becoming a better person. That’s something we can all do. Becoming a better person than I was yesterday is a beautiful promise I can make to myself. And I wish: have a new beginning with TED. Because I will know and learn many things from many people like you and other people...
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        Jul 20 2013: I am looking forward to reading your comments on TED.

        Welcome, and see you around Le Hoai!!!
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      Jul 16 2013: Hi Mary,

      Here's an interesting, humoristic comment on what may happen if it is indeed school or so-called carrers advisors that become a part of the bigger picture and have responsibility for the development of the children, you can stop at 0:52:

      The schools and parents and other sources of influence do have do have some responsibility, I agree with that, but they also need to be caring, respectful of individuality and be competent.

      You say "Today in the information super-age.....there is just no excuse for not knowing." . - agreed. But what happens if the people who are supposed to take care of you don't really care to get any knowledge? I'm not speaking about my parents or schools. And assume things that are not true because of their own inhibitions or just lack of interest or knowledge? I can write pages on that.

      And you're right. There is no excuse for not knowing and not caring. There is no excuse for assuming, lying and staying uninformed and wanting to stay uninformed by not asking the right questions or being engaged. And there is no excuse for trying to categorise somebody by a faulty system of either loans and economy or culture.

      There is no excuse for saying 'that's just the way it is' without questioning.
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        Jul 17 2013: Very valid points Anna.......I enjoyed the video link.

        You know, when kids are small, sometimes they believe what they are told.
        And if they are told that they will not amount to much, well then, some might choose to believe it.

        Other children, despite not having loving parents who encourage their growth, might have a wonderful teacher who cares, and who mentors, and who inspires.

        Many famous people speak of that special teacher who made a difference.
        Remember Rita Pierson's TED talk on how teachers can inspire?

        I just think that today, children have a lot more information at their fingertips.
        They don't even have to leave their home or call anyone, like I had to do, to get information.

        There are so many options.

        Our public schools do a pretty good job of counseling kids about college and other options.
        It starts in the junior year of high school.
        What about in your country?
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          Jul 17 2013: Thanks for reminding me of the talk, Mary. Very important points there about connections, influences of the community and not giving up.

          "What about in your country?" - it's complicated. I'm sure the teachers are doing the best they can, but they cannot fix the world or the system. I've of so many unbelievable and sad stories from both countries I have a connection to. Here's something about a good teacher and one of the sad stories, just a link, but it shows a lot of what was mentioned in Ritas talk about champions, mentors and feedback:

          I posted this link before, it's just a perspective but it reminds me of my teacher of Polish, she had a very hard time in class (kids can be cruel...). I showed her some of my scribblings once, I wish she had more time for me, the only things she had time to say during a five minute break was "This aspires for higher goals than just that." I wish he had said it differently or had more time for a conversation or counselling, as you describe it. But she still got flowers from me on graduation day, that was the only time I saw her smile. I wish she could read this now :)
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        Jul 17 2013: That was some link Anna.
        She is a very talented comedian.....I had no idea that she had that experience in her background.

        I think, as a teacher, we sometimes want the students to trust us and share thoughts with us.
        And, also students, wish teachers to take interest in them.

        I think writing in a notebook, back and forth, between students and teachers, to be a very wonderful way to get attention.

        I used to make my second graders do book reports on the weekends.
        On Mondays, they would turn in their composition books with their reports.
        I would spend the week writing my reaction and thoughts in the book reports, and asking questions, or making observations that made them think.

        After a month or so of having implemented the assignment, I noticed the kids really looked forward to Friday, so they could get their notebooks back, and read what I had to tell them.

        The whole thing was great, because by the end of the school year, it was like a journal of thoughts. And they got to take a nice keepsake home from their second grade school year.

        Writing is very therapeutic. I think that is why I enjoy TED so much.
        I get to write my thoughts. And, I can go back and reread what I wrote.
        Sometimes I am astonished at my own words..........I think.........did I really write THAT??
    • Jul 17 2013: Thanks Mary! And thanks for all the feedback you guys!

      After reading ALL the comments, I came to the conclusion that there is indeed, a problem. Whether it's trough society, culture, or education, we all seem to be attempting to finding the culprit of this conflict. However I found it wise through TED Friend's Comment that we should look at our history. Simply taking the concept of how previous generous were raised back then, can tell how they are parenting now. There is a lot of logic behind his comment so go take a look.

      Now I want to start reading some solutions to this problem. We've identified it as the lack of self identity or incentive to learn. Or even be lazy in some terms to the point where it affects our ego and become spoiled. (I'm talking young adults to adults?)
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        Jul 17 2013: You're welcome Abraham.

        Like everything else in life, I think we can not put everybody in the same bag.
        I think "some" young people lack life skills, but others don't.

        It is good for you to discuss this topic out in the open.
        I hope you learn quite a lot.
        It is good that you, as a young person are worried about these types of questions.

        I hope you find some good TED videos to shed light on your dilemma.
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    • Jul 16 2013: Wow.
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      Jul 17 2013: You know what they say, TF. It's not the crises that make people lose their homes and jobs. They only reveal the cracks in the foundation of the system. You're speaking of both some of the cracks and the possible negative outcome.
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      Jul 17 2013: Good points.

      I think common sense has to kick in sometime.
      My parents did not go through the great depression, but still they knew the value of a dollar.
      We were taught to save money, and live within our means.

      It has served me well.

      Unfortunately, looking around, common sense is not so common.
      A lot of people are up to their eyeballs in debt, some have lost everything......this is very sad.
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    Jul 16 2013: YES, we are "distracted with the free flow of information that we forget how essential these skills are in order to promote confidence for independence." We also live in a highly specialized society where people succeed by acquiring an increasingly specific set of skills. The alternative to this would be a generalist culture, where a person is more independent and self-reliant, simply because they have acquired a wide variety of skill sets. A life long passion for learning is the best attitude for being a generalist. In a specialist, it would be a life long passion for learning more and more about the same thing.

    I'll unpack the meaning of a hugely relevant quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession." It's from an essay called 'Self-Reliance' and what it means to me in the context of this discussion is that it remains better to do something yourself than have others do it for you; it's better to know how to do it on your own than to adopt the talent of another.

    Young adults live in a society where everything is outsourced. You can pay someone to change your oil or tire. You can pay someone else to mow your lawn and do your taxes and paint your house and cook your meals. I think it would be far more beneficial to generations young and old alike if they were taught the values of self-reliance, or self-sufficiency, or whatever name you want to give it. Focusing on their one area of specialty is a life skill if it allows them to pay for someone else to do all the other things on your list. But then they are dependent. They want life skills that make them independent. And that comes from experience, as I mentioned in my reply to Son Huynh.

    Thanks for the topic. I had to reconsider what I thought about it before I could answer, which is good.
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    Jul 16 2013: In my opinion, young adults generally are not well-equipped with life skills that would help them to live an independent life. However, I don't believe that those skills that you have listed above fall into the life skill category. I do believe that those skills mentioned are quite common in our society today. Most teenagers can open a bank account, make a credit card to make purchases online or even ask for loans. I mean anything to bank, there is always the information desk there to help. No one is born with the banking know-how but we all learn as we interact.

    What I think the adolescent truly lacks is something like cooking at home, fix your own bike or car, or do something manually without using computer or google. Jamie Oliver did an experiment and found out that many kids in primary school does not know what an apple or banana actually look like.
    Nowadays young people rely too much on technology where there is a vast amount of information to take in. As a kid growing up, we don't know what information to take in and what not to, so we tend to go with which that interests us. Parents leave their children to be educated in school, which is place where they value academic ability more than anything else, let alone basic life skill or even emergency skill.

    These are the skills that not only the youth but also the grown-ups cannot do very well. I have met a famiily where 3 generations are not taught to cook at home and all of their food are either processed or fast food. It is a problem of how we educate our children. Home used to be the place where most life skills are passed on from generations to generations. But look now, families are getting smaller and smaller. And parents have to work all day to make a living. Who will be there for the kids?
    • Jul 16 2013: You're totally right.

      I agree that because parents have smaller families and more work hours, the next generation is unable to think for themselves and thus become independent. I think most parents want to believe that public education will be enough for a child to make to college.
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      Jul 16 2013: I like the assertion you make in the first sentence of the second paragraph: "What I think the adolescent truly lacks..." I'm thirty and throughout my twenty I envied the generations coming after me for having access to so 'much technology where there is a vast amount of information to take it in' as you put, but now I see the downside to it, which you pointed out as well. They are inundated with all this information, which is in and of itself useless unless you can process and apply it. If you can't remember something you know when you need to know it, you're really no better off than if you didn't know it all to begin with.

      Experience is what is lacking. Trail and error. Hands-on doing. It reminds me of what Confucius said: "TELL ME AND I FORGET. SHOW ME AND I REMEMBER. LET ME DO AND I UNDERSTAND."
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      Jul 17 2013: Hi Son,

      I agree. Althought I don't think there is anything wrong in searching the web, this may also expand your knowledge. You cannot learn everything in the world from the parents, that's just not feasible.

      Daniel - thanks for the quote, one of my favourites.

      Son - searching the web and yuotube may also teach us something. You can read, see and explore on your own, then do it and then understand even more than your parents could (at least my parents, they didn't have internet). There is cooking there as well, with ingredients my parents didn't even know existed.

      Funny thing is... there is little to find there on how to plan your life economy effectively.
  • Aug 14 2013: How about:
    How to clean.
    How to cook.

    Cleaning is now optional for some folks (I've seen it), and "cooking" is now "open cans and boxes and use the microwave--then wonder where your money went".
  • Aug 13 2013: I totally agree with what you have said.Schools and universities are lacking general or real life instruction to their students.That's because the system has moved drastically toward commercial activity and many things are taught through paid courses.But on the other hand the skills you mentioned are not very hard in my opinion.As you argued they can easily be learned through practicing them and getting hands dirty.
  • Aug 12 2013: They lack the confidence because they believe they don't fit in. Trust me i just graduated in june.
  • Aug 7 2013: Interesting! Well, coming from a developing country Nigeria, 85% of young adults here lack life skills. I work with young ones and am a life skill trainer/mentor. In my work, most parents don't get the need for letting their children undergo life skill courses. Secondly, like in most developing countries, we attach a lot of importance to grades that we forget every aspect of education. That's why we have graduates with good grades but with very poor attitude and low self esteem. I advocate that schools inculcate lifeskill education in their school curriculum. This will go a long way in helping young adults achieve a lifelong success.
  • Jul 31 2013: Most dropouts today miss their CIVICS class. If CIVICS are even taught today.

    We the parents and now the grandparents have been neglectful since when
    corporal punishment laws came into being. Like Unions they were to protect
    children from abuse. But they had a side-effect of allowing those same children
    freedom of expression when their underdeveloped brains need a swift kick in the
    pants. Those first kids grew up in the 60's, and most were brats. They had kids
    and guess what those kids were? hahaha

    Today we have Drugs all around. Kids get some juvenile jail time And the nation has
    lost it's American Dream. We build high walls on our southern borders. But there is
    no longer a need for such, as the illegal immigrants know there is no American Dream.

    Using the tuitions partly funded by the Government's school loans - Colleges, Universities,
    and Online Schools, all large Corporations, offer classes without any guarantee of a proper
    education. Their Leadership's vying to beat Wall Street CEO pay and retirement's golden

    Still wet-behind-the-ears Students are given Educational Books, Housing, and Tuition loans,
    with no idea of how hard it will be to pay them back. ..And, how many of them stay the course?
    Dropouts are common.

    Are young adults today lacking life skills? They surely are.

    They by the way, are our Leaders of Tomorrow.
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      Aug 4 2013: I agree. More emphasis must be placed on this area of education in order to evolve a more complex and active society, especially where application of technology is involved. Such education will enable them to solve more social problems that engross us all.

      While watching a committee working to establish more detail in areas of solution for national transportation, more emphasise was given to the good time they had in Vegas than to the pre-written comments they read from. When it came to elements of funding, no one had any ideas, with the exception of the congressman from Illinois.

      If we were to demand more technocratic-minded , experienced legislatures, I feel we could accomplish more towards solving our social and infrastructural problems in many nations. Italy is moving in this direction. The state of Illinois appears to be moving in this direction. Many infrastructural problems are being resolved there with qualified people. They've moved well beyond any other state in the U.S.

      I would much prefer voting for a collection of people who were certified to run for an office than those who have a persuasive personality. I would very well like to know our young people can determine the difference from their studies at school.
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    Jul 29 2013: I agree with all what you say. I shall just add that one big problem with today's youngsters is that they are bombarded daily with unprecedented amounts of attractions & distractions. This attack on their senses and minds, is a big hurdle on their way to reach stabilization. I had already wrote about this when commenting on Colin Powell's talk which was precisely about this. I think yo should add that talk to the list of the Related Talks of this conversation.

    My comment there:
  • Jul 15 2013: ...and a lot of innocent mistakes. Nothing teaches us better than the mistakes we make.
  • Jul 15 2013: Looking at the questions your have, I remembered all the feelings I had when the first day I came to my colleage. Helpless, is the first thing I felt. Cause I would have to face everything all by myself. Well, in fact, this is not the most scared thing at all. Deep in my heart, I want to be different, I want to be a leader, a person someone else could lean on. But how could I make it? I even hadn't used a credit card before. I was just a little girl lost in my fears. But what does that matter, I now am already an adult who is going to be a graduate this fall. No matter how many questions you have, time just goes on ignoring all the fears, all the achievements, all the loses. That's just life. The only thing to get rid of all the uncertainties is to active. Then you will have your ansewers waiting for you after all the wounds,all the tears, and all the joys which time gives you.

    Time is the best teacher, you needn't fear it firstly. When you look back a few years later, you may think yourself just a helpless teenager.

    Taking active rather than wondering, is the answer to everything. You would learn that soon after.
    • Jul 15 2013: I agree, most people need to just take action. But how can they do that without knowing what do?

      With trial and error there comes a point where everyone learns from their mistakes. But some of these life skills can cause huge consequences that leads to a life changing scenario. For example, the student loans.

      Philosophically speaking, yes time goes on and us humans are excellent in adapting and coping with setbacks. But stagnating the purpose of one life is a problem that can solved.

      If you knew how to publicly speak, use the credit card, then you wouldn't have any fear. In fact, you would feel confident no? Confident enough to perhaps know what you want to do for the next day, month, year, life?
      • Jul 16 2013: There are three kind of things: things you want to do, things you need to do and things you have to do. (Knowing what you want to do is totally another case which has nothing to do with confidence. Knowing is just knowing, and it doesn't mean you can or you need do that. In fact, it is just something in one's head if one does not actually do it.)

        If you want to do something, go ahead and do it. But if one doesn't have something like that in his mind, all he needs to do is doing everything needs to be done. Things like voting and taxes, they are only something you can learn step by step, the same way of learning how to use credit cards, or how to speak English. Commen sense is not that commen maybe, but one can easily learn that in daily life. Donot know how to put things right can get us anxious, well, the good thing is, we can learn quickly enough. I don't think they are problems...

        There indeed exist some rules which distinguish some people from others...

        But as 'How to buy a car or house', the answer is that you only need some money. I'm just kidding. In my mind, that kind of things, have something to do with your career, and is far more important of course. As I said, do things you want to do, and make that your career if you are lucky enough. On the other hand, most people are not that lucky, at least in China. Then one would find a job which can earn his living. This is the thing everyone have to do, for living. I admit if I can find passion in my job, I'd do it more efficiently.But,if reading books is all I want to do,then what? Can I earn the money by reading Harry Port? Interests and career are sometimes on the opposite side of the same coin.Good, they are together. If not, we have to make up our minds and choose one side.
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    Jul 15 2013: Hi, Abraham. I too was the child of immigrant parents, deep down in the 99%, but I don't know how much effect this has on whether you learn these things at home. The only one of the things you list that I learned at home was how to write a check and balance a checkbook. My father knew how, and I taught my mother.

    I learned how to do many of the rest of these things by reading instructions. I do not know how to do anything useful to my car.

    I learned about compound interest in grade school, as kids do now.

    I think it is practical to learn how to do many of these things when one needs to, as people will otherwise forget.

    Not knowing what you want to study is a different kind of issue. I think college students should be exploring different areas of study. Most advisers of high school and college students would advise the same, I think. You don't have to have your life all planned out at 17 or 18.
    • Jul 20 2013: Fritzie...I agree. The most important thing is to get out there and try different things until you discover what makes you happy and rewards you amply. Very few know at a young age what they want to do or be; just keep trying and you'll find it eventully. Rome wasn't built in a day!
  • Aug 13 2013: Interesting ideas. Here's what I think:
    Not knowing how to do what you mentioned depends on the type of education you receive. For me personally, I learned in high school how to vote, what taxes are, what are political parties and how to write a resume. But I do agree that schools don't teach the latter portion of what you mentioned because it can be easily learned. Also I wouldn't say that young adults lack confidence in themselves. As a current student, I can see that many young adults are engaging and participating in today's society to break barriers and take advantage of everyday meaningful opportunities. If you don't get how to do loans or fix a car, it's always best to ask people around you who do know and take the initiative to learn. Not everything can be learned in the classroom, sometimes it takes real world experience to be successful as well. In addition, I think the reason high school grads don't know what to do with their lives is not because of a lack confidence, but rather from societal pressure; so many people try to adhere to a cookie-cutter image of being perfect and having kids and whatnot. The thing is this whole pressure of deciding what to do in the future at an age that is meant for exploration is a mindset I think all youth struggle with and I think that is what leads to fear.
  • Aug 13 2013: Children of today should get an education.
    The most important thing they should be
    taught is how to change their country, take it back from those - their leaders of every industry and institution,
    from police to education, taxes, politics, military, religion, pharmaceutical, and medical-
    whose moral fiber has declined, eroded and rotted to nothing.
    But what do they actually tell you and your children?
    They tell them and you, it is the declining moral fiber of the people, not those in power!
    A total lie. Completely false and intentionally so.
    So you wind up educating your children with the same lies, then try to help them
    learn how to be successful in a totally corrupt system, by being what? Honest? Truthful?
    Ethical? The system you will send them out into, that will devour most of them without care, and
    without real care on your part for what will
    happen to them, and you don't advise them of this, will quickly teach them otherwise.

    Or, you can teach them how to become corrupt because in a corrupt system, the only way to be successful
    is to become corrupt and create your own network of corruption. The winning team.
    Certainly, some, very few, may become successful but most will not and you will then teach them that
    it will be solely their fault if they fail.
    What wonderful parents you will all turn out to be! Just look at your list:
    How to do taxes
    * What taxes are--theft of your $$$$
    * How to vote--it doesn't work
    * What political parties are--to screw you
    * How to write a resume/cover letter/anything related to getting a job---compete against 1,000's
    * How to write a check/balance a check book - with few jobs, no money
    * Anything to do with banking --a totally fraudulent system. Foreclosures are figured in for the bankers.
    * How to do loans for college --how to get deeply in debt for jobs that will no longer exist when you graduate.
    * How to jump start a car or other basic emergency things--how to steal
    * How to buy a car or house Many are losing their home
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    Aug 13 2013: We should consider the things that kids today already know, which we had to learn. How to type. How to program a cell phone. How to change shape on a transformer tool.

    If you are over 40, how long did it take you to learn how to use a word processor? typing exposes you to words faster and in greater quantity. Kids have learned this. Even the most uneducated of children appear to know how to spell more words than their parents. It's a product of the high tech world they grew up in.

    Kids have a lot of knowledge we had to learn the hard way. It is part of their everyday life and activity.

    They have the tools. They need some goals and the foundation to apply them. Providing that foundation should have been the job of their parents and grandparents. Instead we strapped them with debt.
  • Aug 12 2013: I have had the privilege to work with high school students for the past 22 years, and I have discovered the full spectrum (as you would expect) of students from those who have yet to discover their passion for learning and recognize their abilities to those who seem highly motivated, confident and equipped for whatever the future has in store. I am fairly convinced that our education system has been at the root of many of the challenges we now face within society. The "facts" that we have regarded as integral to creating an "educated citizen" are finally starting to be replaced by a range of competencies with a variety of opportunities for learning to be demonstrated. Teaching students how to become problem solvers is a lot more challenging than teaching them how to solve a "specific problem". I believe that when we bring "relevance" to the forefront of learning, and we take away the high stakes aspect of assessment, we will discover that many students will develop the confidence that they currently lack. The ability to see oneself as successful is critical! Some of the examples of "lifeskills" that you state seem to be the type of knowledge that one acquires through interest/necessity. How do students access this information? If they become problem solvers, then whatever the challenge is, they will have the skills to research, communicate, and pursue the information they seek. Curricula should always evolve, so we need to focus on the skills, attitudes, and competencies of our students, so they are capable of dealing with the challenges that accompany an unknown future.
  • Aug 12 2013: I have stated earlier some thoughts but before critical thinking (though it would be nice) are basic skills:

    1. go to any store, (especially true for fast food shops), turn off the pos terminal, they will not know the prices of items,, how to add, subtract, multiply, and how to calculate the sales tax.
    2., take away the calculator and many would not be able to approximate the tip of 15%. (most states with sales tax, just double or triple the sales tax depending on the state)
    3. I have hired very good engineers who can solve problems, either linearly or using critical thinking but could not write nor speak in a logical manner - necessary skills. By the way, these engineers graduated from very good engineering programs.
  • Aug 6 2013: I would not say that all adults lack life skills that marks their individual life track. It depends a lot on how the kid has been brought up. I think growing up in shadow of the parents who fulfill all the requirements makes the kids alienated to the outer world. Now the students coming out of school secure 98-99% in their final exam(at least in my country). i just wonder do they know everything that is there to learn. The same trend continues even after schools in colleges. Students learn for the sake of exam without any importance to the real world use of that concept. And why is that ??
    Because when our teachers were students they did the same thing and that is what we are taught.

    Now about the kids who develop basic life skills. In my opinion it can be attributed to two reasons. Firstly, the right mindset of the parents who know that their kids will continue to live after them in this world. Secondly, the kids belonging to middle class families who are aware of their surroundings and want to improve.

    P.S -The above said opinions are based on my own surroundings of developing India.
    • Aug 6 2013: Thanks for your response as you made some great points.

      Education has this problem of evaluating schools with numbers. This drives the wrong kind of pressures on staff and teachers to focus on the subjects that can be systematized the most. This meaning science and math and reading. This is where coming out secure but failing makes sense. The tests don't measure how successful the student is going to be in real life.

      Sir Ken also mentions that education formed during the same time for everyone which was during the industrial revolution. Education was meant to create good workers and not good thinkers.

      I also blame how competitive teachers and schools make it. This carries on to the bullying and social anxiety in teenagers.
  • Aug 6 2013: What do you guys think about this? Young adults are being influenced by the media and the information age -> they have a distorted view of reality. I sometimes feel that young people / people in general think things will just happen.

    What I mean by this is for example attitudes like "Im gonna become CEO" or "im gonna become the next Zuckerberg" or "im gonna become famous". My reaction is why dont you keep a job and pay your own rent for a year for starters.... Its not as easy as one might think.

    Im very ambitious and I work hard. Yet sometimes I still feel desperate and wonder if things are going to work out. But its scary how some of my friends "do nothing" and expect the world to come to them. They cant even jumpstart a car
  • Aug 6 2013: Yes, because the focus of education is not on basic skills any more. It is the pressure from the administration and parents that we don't fail kids. It is the pressure to pass the test.

    Schools do try and teach this in and among the requirements for passing these tests.

    The schools are also bogged down by the kids on the lower and and the higher end students suffer because of it. The system requires education towards college and not everyone meets that requirement. But every teacher must teach like every child is going to college, even though some should be held back and trained in job skills not higher education.
  • Aug 5 2013: There are schools that do teach this. Some schools teach all these skills but unfortunately they are the exception rather than the rule.

    When I taught in college, I gave my students a test on the 1st day of class and it was multiple choice. I could not believe how many could not add 1/2 + 1/3 and given 7+2*3 came up with the wrong answer. This was in the early 70's.

    A friend now teaches at a community college and teaches the remedial math course. The 1st course is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers. I could not believe but the failure/dropout rate was over 3/4.

    Maybe the public school systems these students come from should pay for these remedial classes or provide it free - how did they graduate.

    I have seen when the point of sale cash registers fail (power or system failure) the cashiers (especially the fast food places) do not know how much to charge and they can not compute the total charge and doing the sales tax to them is impossible.
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    Aug 4 2013: I notice when I give the correct change at the cashier at a fast food place, they don't bother to count it. I guess the machine counts it for them. To check this out, sometimes I give them more than the amount. The result is the same.

    In households where there are a number of young people sharing an apartment. They appear pretty savy about these things. Those living at home with responsible parents have a large degree of common knowledge -what you specify is called common knowledge.

    I've noticed a distinction between young people with a low age of mental cognition -they make a choice when asked the question "which holds more, a short fat glass or a tall skinny one" and those that are more mature in mind, who answer it depends on the volume of the glass.

    I'd put the general mental age of a general 17 year old around age 13 to 15 and a young non-college, adult around high school age; with the ability to gain more common knowledge fast.

    As to the loans, what choices do they have?
    • Aug 12 2013: Its so depressing to see mental ages just like that but I really do see rich spoiled adolescents not knowing how to do things. They let themselves be dependent and they don't do things themselves like learning. But poorer people have problems at home with financing so it affects their grades due to shift in motivation. A good number of poor people aren't in a dual income like america's society demands. ( I am american). This way kids are faced with more problems to direct their attention. This alters learning. This gives poor people insecurity as well because they can't "keep up with the Jones' ". That distraction as well can hinder desire to learn. People need to change america's society by being happy synthetically and not having money hinder education and fitting in cause anxiety. If only It were true.
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        Aug 12 2013: It's just so hard to make ends meet these days. When I was young, a gallon of gas was only 30 to 50 cents a gallon and you could still pick up glass soda bottles and sell them for 10 cents each. It was possible to make a living by fishing and shrimping in Florida or cutting down lumber. Now, all those jobs are gone or impossible to get into with the proper bonding money and insurance. Permits are costly, capital is non-existent and resources are depleted.

        It's bad times for everyone with no help in sight. It's worse than it was just before WWII.

        The young don't have a chance. If your family is unable to help you, you are toast. The whole situation is ripe for a serious social break on a world wide scale.

        There is too much talk and not enough being done. To be truthful, I don't have any answers either. I can't think of anything to do to help young people anymore.
        • Aug 13 2013: I think it falls back onto culture of america. The independence that we have is what tells it. We feel that we should run our own lives in every way. The interdependence is there but it needs to be properly balanced with independence and it is lacking.

          I always hear of families not paying for their children's tuitions. Or people living at home with parents that don't know how to save money and have no intention in moving out. Parents do play a big part. The parents can be chief enablers in letting their kids stay at home or they can be so invested in work that they do not make sure their children have the skills to work on their own. Of course lack of two parents hinders this even more.

          I have an answer. Change the schooling. How can parents help their kids learn how to save, have skills to live on their own, or have emotional stability? If the parents still have those issues themselves then they're still learning it. This means the kids have next to no chance in learning it. School needs to have mandatory emotional stability, financing, and family consumer sciences courses.

          Teachers also need to learn to not cave in. Operant conditioning is a battle and who wins is reinforced.

          The U.S. government thought they pin pointed our lack in brains through the no child left behind law so they had a standard for the productive courses (sciences, math, languages)
          but they scapegoated truth or even failed to see that productivity depends on the amount of anxiety.

          If schools find the balance in helping students with learning to be independent, working togetherfor others, raising themselves but being interdependent and knowing they can properly raise the next generation, tag teamed with scarcely anxious people will give the future more self actualized and transcended people.
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    Aug 1 2013: About the university bit. Many students are pushed into studying by their parents, society or their own beliefs. What they believe they should do or what others tell them to do may not be necessarily the right thing to do. In fact, following the mainstream leads to mediocrity.

    There are better ways to go about life, such as thinking outside the box to live on the edge. It's much more exciting and not hard to do, once you get rid of the beliefs installed by the family, friends and the society (as well as culture, religion).

    Being put through the school, university and other formal education strips away most of the inner creativity. I hope that more and more people will wake up to the fact that they can learn more from immersing themselves in the experience of life rather than reading books to get a degree.
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      Aug 4 2013: Leaning more from life by immersing themselves into life (OJT, On the job training), will work if you have the necessary, book, class learned experience to establish a base of critical analytical skills such as: mathematics, Science, Language, Basic Physics, etc. But, as an all inclusive method to an end, I think it is very limited in today’s technological society.
      • Aug 4 2013: Immersing yourself and OJT are not the same thing. In fact, that's kind of the opposite. OJT is someone teaching you how to do something, and the attitude of immersion is figuring out whether you are doing something for the "right" reasons before being told how to do it. Immersion is a balance between doing something that can be appreciated by the general populace, and doing something not just because the general populace wants you to do it.

        We don't just need sharper analytical skills (though they couldn't hurt, unless the person used them to avoid immersion as can actually be the case), we need to realize that the rules of the world we were born into cannot dictate our lives perfectly, and that those rules can be broken once they are well known. You might immerse yourself in acting (this is basically the example used by Ken Robinson in his talk) and still contribute to what the OP might recognize as a "higher purpose." People always have the opportunity to immerse themselves in life (being living people) - it's their attitude towards what they do and why they do it that is unique to today's technological society.
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          Aug 4 2013: I'm still confused Chris. Perhaps you could direct me to a video that would expand on your suggestion.

          When I think of immersion in the sense we are examining it here, I think about learning a new language in a different country. Even if I lack reading and writing skills, in my own language, I can still learn another by this method but having some skill would certainly help. Having learned the language, I would still need training if I were to seek employment in a scientific or engineering field, even if I knew the language. If I were a vagabond with an income, I wouldn't need any job or life training and might learn something special about life in my travels. So yes, I'm still a bit confused as to what you mean, especially if you are applying this method with your students.
  • Jul 29 2013: Hi Abraham Kim. This is a quite interesting topic and i am pleased to share u some my private ideals here. I am 30years old woman an am now living in Japan. Your topic reminds me about what my father said to me when i just went to University that at each age in life people will have a given duty in his own life. And i absolutely agree with him. I dont know how old are you now but some days when you graduate from the university, getting merried with a lovely guy, giving a birth ...I means when you get out of school and join to the real adult world, u would be placed in the situation that u need to learn about that...and u will naturally know all about that by your skin not just from books or sth other . If you are in school, just enjoy it, because after that you will see everything is not as easy and relaxed as you used to be in the school. Everything would come naturally and at that time you would really know what u do need or do. Take it easy. Cheers.
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    Jul 25 2013: I think it is true of most high school kids that they don't know what they want to do. It has always been the same and I am sure always will be. Most people don't ever do a job they really like. They work to live and pay the bills.

    A lot of the things in the list you gave at the beginning are not taught at school. Taxes, banking, etc are soon learned when people get jobs. Jump starting a car is not something that is essential to life and anyone who wants to buy a car doesn't need a lesson in it, they only need the cash.

    It is probably also true that more life skills can be taught at school but school is for study and childhood is so short that I don't think children need to have their heads crammed with most of the things on your list. Though it is important to know how to write CVs and how to apply for jobs.

    I think happy children who have no stresses and strains in their lives are naturally confident anyway. Most kids choose courses at university because their teachers guide them in the direction of something they were good at in school and don't always consider whether there is going to be any kind of employment in this area at the end. They like the school to look good because they are sending students to further education.

    There is no such thing as perfection in life and there never will be. We will all muddle through as has happened since the beginning of time. Life skills can only really be learned when we leave home and set up for ourselves. It doesn't need to be another worry for a child while it is growing up.
  • Jul 25 2013: It's true that there's a lot that young adults today,like myself,who are in want of life skills.I was brought up very protectively.At the age of 11 I started going to a boarding school.I picked a few essential skills there.I learned how to manage my belongings,how to behave with different people,how to study on my own.But I was ignorant of certain skills like leadership and money management.
    Now,I'm doing my UG in engineering.There are some areas in engineering that I would really love to work on.But there are several that I have to do just to get the degree.I'm Indian and many colleges here don't offer much of a choice.If you've chosen a course,you have to do a fixed set of subjects till the 3rd year.That doesn't help one bit!I have a lot of interests and would like to devote a fair bit of time to a lot of them.My present situation is not conducive to my pursuit of some of these interests.But I've been taking some steps to explore myself in the last 8 months or so.It certainly has raised my confidence. I've been trying to challenge myself more often,knowing that it 'll induce me to do better.
    I'm still unclear about a lot of things in life.Like what I want to do after my UG.I certainly want to take a few years off,just to travel,go places and just be a part of different cultures,contribute something to a small community in my country,like my native village.But I just don't know at what stage I should do all this.I hope time will teach me and my fellow "TEDmates " will teach me.
  • Jul 25 2013: After reading all of your comments (Which were all quite excellent)

    I have come to a conclusion based upon them. Since we live in a society that makes tasks outsourced and specialized, it lowers the initiative to learn the skills mentioned above because you can ultimately pay a professional to do it. In addition, with the economic boom in the 90's, parents in that era experienced a surplus age where the money they earned and saved because of the great depression values instilled upon them when they were children, turned into high returns on investments. This has made our generation lack the lessons of saving or interest rates. First Generation children have no advantage either since our parents are going through the same mortgage-high interest rate debt that the students are experience with college loans.

    This leads us to consumerism, which values the common person based upon his possessions rather than his character or his occupation. Instead of asking students "what do you want to do for the rest of your life" it should be "how would you want to make money for the rest of your life." Of course this is wrong because it's killing the curiosity that students need in order to pursue higher knowledge. We have reached a point in our humanity where knowledge is the not considered the most powerful but rather currency.
    Flexibility doesn't help either. Since specialized occupations are being made up everyday, we can no longer simply choose one by "trying them out" since there's just too many. This scares students because of the possibility of missing out.
    I believe the problem exists from the time and place where are in. Education and parenting hasn't been adjusted to the new technology and service market this country is transforming into. Consumerism is killing our children's curiosity where they value an Xbox higher than a book. This is why kids are dropping out of high school and just working straight from there because they believe making money is a higher priority.
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    Jul 25 2013: Rather than all this talk about what life skills they lack, which ones they need, how are they gain them, etc. I would suggest going to the source of the issue and developing when in these young adults a sense of urgency and respect for the challenges of life and developing the faculty in them of being able to recognize what things they need to know and taking the initiative to learn it.

    I feel as though I'm not expressing myself to the best of my ability, but think of how you only need to get a kid excited in something and then you can let them loose and they are going to go about discovering things and teaching themselves. Wind 'em up, let 'em go.

    OR, You could go to your library, rent a book on life-skills, perhaps one aimed at young adults, and read it.

    When you're done, read Benjamin Franklin's autobiography or Ralph Waldo Emerson's 'Self-Reliance' or James Weldon Johnson's 'The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man.' Why these three? Because they are all written be self-made Americans early in our country's history at a time when opportunity was there to be seized upon if only you had the initiative and the gumption to do so.

    I've read all of them more than once. The first and third are exceedingly good examples working long and hard from the bottom to the top, constantly adapting to new customs and requirements until they were at the level of the influencers and decision-makers. Emerson's work is like a transcendental pep-talk.
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    Jul 24 2013: Yes,Mr. Kim,
    And from my point of view it is even worse then you've described. From my point of view, the "been there, done that"
    view, young adults today have been so poorly served to enter into adulthood. Here is too often the story, Mom and Dad are both working trying to keep up and falling behind, young children are shuffled off to preschool and daycare before real bonding to the family takes place, so there is this detachment. Young children are often distracted with toys.... electronic toys and that continues for most of the formative years.
    The there are the public schools. Back in the 1960s, there were social injustices in public education. In an effort to correct these problems, a Federal Education Office was created to insure equality in all schools. As a result, as schools strived to achieve equality lost the focus on education. The best public education in the world in 1950 is down to the 30s behind countries that have been described as "third world" . The sad part of that story is the US spends more then every other country per student to fail this badly..
    So, as I tell young adults... learn all you can from what ever source,, be vigilant, don't fall into the trap of expecting politicians to provide for your well being.... the citizens of ancient Rome did this and look what the Huns did to them.
    Young people laugh when I tell them that,, They tell me that they are smarter then the Romans, and I say that's what the Romans said about the ancient Greeks....
    A really astute generation will put down their media and look around to see the real world. .
  • Jul 23 2013: I am a university graduate in Canada. I was very lucky to pursue my passion for 2 reasons.
    - My parents told me they would always be proud of me and wanted me to find, on my own, what would make me happy.
    - I took 2 years off after high school. I took courses in the area I thought I'd want to study and then worked full time in customer service in the fashion industry. After that, I knew it was for me.

    I think there are a few things about education and career planning that need to change that would help young people leaving high school.

    - it's okay to try and be wrong. Don't stick to a degree you don't like and waste time and money just because you're already in it. Try something different. That one year in psychology could make you an even better marketer, or vice versa. No education is a waste!

    - If you're not sure, try it out. Work a warehouse/reception/customer service position in that industry to learn more before committing to a degree/diploma.

    - Accept that the first career/industry/field that you pursue might not be forever. The job market is constantly changing and there will be opportunities 10 years from now that don't exist today.

    I think the pressure to chose a career path that you will follow for the rest of your life is overwhelming. I think it should be thought of more as a journey, sometimes you're standing on a hill and can see miles ahead and know with certainty where you want to go and other times you're in a valley and it's hard to see what's next so you tread lightly, one step at a time. Sometimes you'll want to run and sometimes you'll want to rest but choosing an area of study is the first in a long line of decisions, it's just the beginning of a very exciting journey full of failures and successes. Everyone has to start somewhere.

    95% of my graduating class had been accepted to university before graduation. I hadn't applied anywhere and many people made me feel like that meant I wasn't going anywhere and that is what needs to change.
    • Jul 24 2013: Hello, Anna! I totally agree with "No education is a waste" These days, most students are eager to find their major early and want to study only that field deeply. It could be suit for someone. But I think it is better to experience and challenge anything which can be done in this moment! Time flows so fast, we do not have enough time. "Look inside yourself, and follow your heart" is important.

      Steve Jobs' speech in Stanford University : He took courses about Caligraphy, some might think it is useless, but he got a lot of help when he invented the font used in Apple mobile tools. Everything is connected!
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    Jul 23 2013: it's a rare breed of 18 year old who knows what they want to do for the rest of their life . good heavens when you give it thought, how many years have their developing brains had the cognitive ability to truly grasp the word "future"? Yes, They understand the definition of the word. up until completing their first 12 years and going through the process of being excepted to secondary education the future was maybe viewed in terms of the next 4 years but, the rest of your life?! for most terrifying. this generation has been listening to the ever so challenging task of procuring an education that results in a job that will support a middle class life style +. the work force has evolved from agriculture to industrial to technological, rapidly. The cost of procuring a secondary education is outrageously expensive and for those young adults who have not had the good fortune of parents who can afford to pay for it, another challenge arises.....what skill do I need to acquire that will pay me a salary to cover school debt and cost of living?
    it no longer a question of what work I would be interested in doing for the rest of my life, it's what must I do to keep up. yes again, terrifying. I only wish it was still about following a dream, an inspiration. sadly the job market leaves but a sliver of a chance using ones creativity unless it speaks to the needs the majority of skills needed to compete. As far as basic skills......we, as their parents have introduced them to this it is part of preparing them to one day live a life of independence.
  • Jul 23 2013: Hi Abraham,
    great topic for a first conversation!

    I live in the Netherlands, and see the same scenario here. I know for a fact that kids lack life skills, and are more or less tossed into the job market and left to their own devices to survive.

    Sir Ken Robinson said in one of his inspiring talks, that a diploma or degree means very little these days, often kids receive one, and promptly move back home and play video games all day. A degree no longer guarentees a postition, sadly. It's no wonder, then, that so many young people are out of work, receiving unemployment, and are at a total loss as to what they should be doing. And all the beauracracy of everyday life is just piled on top of that!

    I will be giving a music workshop to a group of kids in this position next month, and am curious what will come out of it!
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    Jul 22 2013: I'm also a student almost finishing school and getting ready to choose a course for university. My parents are also first generations to a new country (which is Australia), in my situation because they couldnt speak english i was thrown into the deep end of the water of those everyday life skill the moment my english was good enough. Back then as a child of under 15 i would say i was able to do at least 3/4 of the stuff on that list mainly because i just had to do it. I didnt have any instructions. Basically you learn as you go and you learn the most when your actually doing it. There will be times when you might have made a big mistake, but like everyone, your going learn from it. So to properly answer your question, the young adults today will easily learn as they go.

    When it comes to college choices I don't think it's really a big deal, what is a big deal in my opinion is finding your passion and looking for what you love to do. Find that passion and then make your choice. The reasons why people like Steve Jobs dropped out of college was because he just simply decided he was going to do what he wanted to and added to that he had hard work. Now I'm not sure if in America you have to go to college right after high school, but if you don't have to, take some time to figure out who you are and what you want to do. On a side note I don't agree with this confidence idea, because of what I mentioned before. They just haven't explored the world well enough to Know what is interesting to them.

    On this choosing subjects note, I really hate it when people choose courses for the reason that it might lead them to having high paid jobs. Because if you think about it if a doctor was doing his job because of the money, not because he wants to make you healthier, would you want him there as your doctor or parents doctor? In Australia we call those people "a bloody idiot!"
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    Jul 22 2013: "I found most high school graduates who are going to college don't have any idea of what they want to study. I believe it is because they lack the confidence to believe in themselves to pursue a higher purpose in life."

    I found most college students start college too soon before they figure out what they want to study. Would you get in a car with out knowing where it was going? It would lack excitement and leave hope being in control instead of thyself. Also, there is a big scale today to weigh every choice on. For example, will I need to be on food stamps after this career? Will there be an opportunity in this field? Is the field flooded? If I choose this field, will it limit me for the rest of my life? These are the things I wish I could have had all the answers to. I know them now! Am I still passionate about what I studied? ya damn right ;) I don't think I would have changed anything. Someone else, maybe so.
  • Jul 22 2013: We have lost the purpose of schools. The laundry list above you should learn on your own, the lesson sticks a lot better. School should teach you how to learn on your own about things and how to do them, not give you step by step instructions on everything. Today, every one of the topics can be found on YouTube or the web. 20 years ago one might have been able to go to the library to answer them.

    Being an immigrant is no excuse for not knowing. Most "born & raised" American teens do not know either. When their parents try to teach them they say,"you don't's different now". Which is untrue.

    Life is a learning experience and to survive one has to be able to teach themselves or acquire the knowledge they need to grow and move on. We as a society have become to dependent on others telling us what do, instead teaching ourselves what to do.

    "99% of knowledge is knowing where to find the answer."--Albert Einstein
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    Jul 17 2013: much short term memory
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    Jul 16 2013: In my perspective, I concede to a few of skills you mentioned above. Definitely, we are constantly bombarded with perpetual information, too much for 24 hours/day to assimilate it. How often are our parents or school, educate or rather say equip with financial planning, investing? We are eternally being asked to excel in academics, get into college and get a job. We never work for ourselves, we work for others. Even though, we recognize our likes and we know our strengths that are apart from academics, they are seldom pursued. Hence, we follow paths created by public, because we are unable to take the risk to pursue on our strengths. Either way, we may be blitz with endless opinions from parents, friends and teachers. This often leaves us perplexed, bewildered with our own life.
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    Jul 16 2013: Young adult here. I've always been taught to be patient and take my time selecting the path I want to go down. After all, I'll be stuck with it for decades after.
    • Jul 16 2013: How come we young adults are stuck with the notion that we have to "select" a path? Why can't we make one?
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        Jul 16 2013: Hmm. Good question.

        Probably stems from this sort of conversation.

        Kid: "I wanna be a billionaire by building a city on Mars!"
        Mom: "Aww honey, that's great."
        Mom's friend: "Isn't he so adorable."

        End of conversation. No effort in manifesting the kid's dream is made. No advice and no support.
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        Jul 16 2013: Everyone makes a path, everyone's different. These paths consist of the choices we make in the environments through which we pass..

        Even people who go to college and choose a major (or two), are not just selecting a fixed path. Each person will pull in different information and have different experiences inside and outside the classroom, in jobs, and in other activities.

        It's all very "custom."
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        Jul 16 2013: I'm also talking about young adults. My point is that the problem that exists with young adults starts when you're a kid.
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      Jul 16 2013: Hi you, you are right. I am student. My major in university is international business law but i like marketing. Besides I want to studey IELTS and marketing english. Now i am a staff of an education company, my duty is seeking customers for company. I have so many plans. I don't know how to do all of them. Many people said that I should give up something.
      Every day I always intend to do many things but I never finish them. Such as I intend I will use 6 hours for working and 6 hours for learning but I can't.
      In my opinion, with most of young adults is they don't know what the realy like. When my teachers in university ask what do they want to do, they answer:"I don't know". And another problem is if they like anything, they have no concrete plan for it.
      And the result is they stuck with it.
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        Jul 22 2013: Welcome to the "question mark" generation.
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    Jul 15 2013: I know your going to say i'm a neanderthal. When parents started spending more "mamby pamby" time trying to be buddies with their kids, instead of giving them the stern discipline they require, that's when things went of track for education. "No" i'm not talking about beatings! " Children have not been taught respect, for others, teachers, principals, other races, other cultures, in many cases, which results in (no self respect). They have been deluged by a media trash house of commercial consumerist filth, and propaganda. Aside from the sick twisted messages from media, they are suffering information overload. Go back to the (3rs) to start with "(reedin, writin, and rytmatic)" If you don't master those, your nothing but a poor helpless ignorant waif, who will live a miserable life of humiliation, and servitude. Today with a resource like (Kahn academy) there is no excuse. If you're a child in the sticks, where there's no internet, earn, borrow, beg the money, and buy some flash card,s and a book or two for Pete's sake. It's not a Ferrari for cryin out loud. When your mind is young, building neuron pathways at an astounding rate, you can learn almost anything with self discipline and real effort. That girl you wanted to chase this afternoon, is not going to want you if you're an ignoramus. She's going down town, with the straight A student, who will own a Farrari while you're driving your scooter to the unemployment office. It's either learn, grow, and fight or die in poverty, and desperation. I don't make the rules I just nail them to the tree so everyone sees them. That's how you love your kids.
    • Jul 16 2013: You're an neanderthal. LOL

      No but on a serious note, I appreciate your answer.

      Undisciplined Kids have no respect for others and therefore no self respect.
      There should be no excuse to NOT be able to learn ANYTHING in today's society.

      So do you think it's the lack of discipline in the household or environment that's holding these kids back?
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        Jul 16 2013: "It's both." Children have been "raped"! Yes that's a strong word. I think it fits. I grew up in the early days of TV, and the garbage they dumped on us was horrendous. They coned us into Vietnam, and a lot of other despicable frauds. It was, direct assault propaganda, and subliminal filth. Today the science of media psychology, and power advertising is more insidious, and dangerous than ever. I deeply honor all the courageous young people that went to Iraq. They are amazing. Unfortunately they fell for the same old tired line that's used to start wars since the dawn of war. An entire industry of media propagandists pumped up innocent inexperienced, unknowing kids who we're manipulated, and lied to by a ruthless group of self serving politicians.There is far to much reliance on "technology teaching tools", and to little attention to exercising the most powerful muscle in your body,(the brain). I love video games, they are fun, and important to a degree. If I had my way I would not permit any kid to play video games until they completed the necessary hours of hands on instant feedback practice and progress that sites like (Kahn Academy) provide. It is an abomination of corruption, and graft that allows the wealthiest country on earth to be without 100% high speed internet access for every single child ! There is no excuse. The big phone companies were handed 40 billion dollars in direct subsidies and write offs to get it done. Many years later the money has been squandered, we have the worst internet, at the highest cost. Practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. I'm telling you, Ferrari's are fun to drive. No video games unless they're educational. "PLAY LATER !" This is about survival ! World of warcraft ? Please ! Give it a break. How about a boot in the rear end? Get to work!
  • Jul 15 2013: I learnt all those things by doing and making mistakes, like rebuilding an engine but not marking the pistons to match the cylinders. Think your concern is a little different - do these individuals have the basic skills to learn as they go? The answer in some cases is no and that scares me.

    I was talking to a junior college instructor who teaches programming and networking. He said his students were arithmetic challenged. They could not add, subtract, or handle fractions. He also taught a skills class on power point, word,and excel. They had major problems with word and could not understand excel.
    • Jul 15 2013: It scares you right? It is a problem and I believe the solution is to simply teach these students life skills so they have confidence to pursue higher knowledge and purpose.

      Those students who didn't know basic arithmetic probably never had the incentive to learn it because they didn't believer in themselves that they could.

      I hear so many students complain about how math is useless. Of course it's useless if you don't plan to use in your future life. But these kids aren't thinking about their future lives because they can't make one yet.
      • Jul 15 2013: Yes I am scared for these kids but it is not a new problem - I was teaching on an Indian Reservation and this just after the new math craze. the 6th graders could talk about set theory but could not do fractions. I started them learning the basics but having them do a check book and a budget and they had to calculate sales tax (we ran a simple store in the class which i started)
  • Jul 15 2013: Thank you all for replying so promptly.

    I should have done a better job clarifying what the idea is but it's generally this:

    Why are high school seniors unable to determine their life goals?
    Why are so many graduate students failing to find a job?

    Here's my theory:

    They lack the self confidence to decide.

    A student who lacks life skills doesn't have the confidence or self-esteem to be independent. If not independent, then there no ambition to find purpose in life. Which forces him/her to let environmental pressures decide for them which leads to a career path that they're not especially passionate about. Which is essential in order to get a job.

    For example, when I was living with my parents and going to school, I was clueless about my life even after going to a university. After I came back, I decided to move out and live on my own. After learning all those life skills, I realized (had an epiphany) that I had the ability to DO anything. This is the self confidence that all students need in order to be inspired to DO or SEEK SOMETHING.

    Wouldn't all of you agree that if you knew how our society works and what skills you needed when you were in high school, wouldn't you have more self-confidence to decide what major you want to study in college?

    I work in the financial office of my school and I see so many students transfer from Universities to a community college because they can't afford it or their GPA is too low. I'm in the same situation because I didn't care about my academics. Simply because I was studying for the sake of society and my parents and not for myself. I didn't have enough confidence in my self to make that sort of decision.

    So yes, all these skills are learned through experiences or by parents. But why not teach it to them formally, officially, or subjectively? Wouldn't that instill more confidence in students so they can be better equipped to become or do anything in this world.
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      Jul 15 2013: This is something, that in my opinion should be self-explored.

      A person should have enough sense to know what to do in life. A normal person should have some basic knowledge about the world from experience and they should think how they can be something in their life. Its not supposed to be taught, it should be self-realization.

      But sadly even I think that we might have to teach it as a subject to secure one's future.
      • Jul 15 2013: Perhaps you're correct.

        A self-exploration promotes a higher learning experience I agree. Maybe then we can both agree that something practical needs to be done but we shouldn't be negating the experience.

        I simply want us to be more confident in making life choices, but we can't do that without being informed first.
    • Jul 15 2013: "Why are high school seniors unable to determine their life goals? ...Here's my theory: They lack the self confidence to decide."

      No, that's not the issue. They don't, in general, know what their life goals are because they were only BORN 15-18 years prior to that. That's nothing! Especially in a world as insanely complex as ours is now. 1000 years ago, you were the son of a blacksmith, you learned smithy and became the next town blacksmith. Rinse and repeat. Now you can almost be anything, and it is overwhelming.

      It doesn't help that from 4-18 many kids simply pass the time trying to have as much low-effort fun as they can, playing video games, texting, hanging out idly in boring suburbs, riding BMX bikes, etc. There is very little connection to the work world. Contrast that to earlier epochs in which a boy or girl could be apprenticed into a trade as early as 12 years old.

      It's not about confidence--teens have way to MUCH confidence (see Jean Twenge's work). It's about cluelessness. And it's not really their fault: our society doesn't prepare them well. Part of why that is is that everybody is too damn busy, and we feel that the system is working fine the way it is, for the most part, and that if someone is a failure it is because they are a slouch or dumb or otherwise "their fault".

      Your concerns are reasonable, but you're on many red herrings with concerning yourself about balancing your checkbook or jump start a car. Most of what you describe can be learned in literally a few hours. What one needs to think harder about is real career research and development, starting about age 16, slowly at first, and then ramping up to about 19. Also, there is nothing wrong with getting it wrong and trying a few tacks before one settles onto a career...for 5-10 years before the next one! It's that kind of world.

      Let's just be thankful that the U.S. has so much oversupply of resources that most of us goobers can someone float through despite it all!
      • Jul 16 2013: Thanks Randy for your response.

        You bring up some pretty good points. I agree that there is a lack of connection between the working world and the education system. Which brings me to my point of confidence. It's more of the confidence of determining a life track. Not overall confidence necessarily.

        Where does this cluelessness come from? How can we promote those 16 year olds to start considering a career? When I was 16, I was mostly concerned about my SAT scores and my junior prom. I was close minded because I never considered my future goals which stemmed from my lack of self confidence to determine my OWN will as oppose to my parents.

        There is no argument that we're distracted. But there still lies the problem of a huge chunk of young adults that are unable to do what should be done and that is to decide for themselves. Not a guidance counselor or parents.
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        Jul 22 2013: everybody is too damn busy, and we feel that the system is working fine the way it is, for the most part, and that if someone is a failure it is because they are a slouch or dumb or otherwise "their fault".

        PERFECT PERFECT PERFECT I can relate! First time I have ever heard such a thing from another about what crap has been slinging around. Thank you!
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    Jul 15 2013: Some are because they acquire more experience while others aren't because they learned through the path they came to be a young adult
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    Jul 15 2013: Hi there, I have quite a lot to say on the subject on hand.

    Its true that many children are not taught things that will be useful in the future as adult. Most times, we are expected to learn by ourselves. In my case, I learned things from various sources, for example, I learnt
    *How to do taxes from the internet and visiting the tax offices with adults;
    * What taxes are from the internet and from dad, and my social science books;
    * How to vote; from watching parents and others vote during elections;
    * What political parties are from books and the internet;
    * How to write a resume/cover letter/anything related to getting a job from the internet and watching people do it;
    * How to write a check/balance a check book by self-experience;
    * Anything to do with banking from self-experience;
    * How to do loans for college from various websites and self-experience;
    * How to jump start a car or other basic emergency things by experimenting (got me into trouble but was worth it);
    * How to buy a car or house from parents, relatives and adults and from the internet;

    I know it because I was curious. Curiosity made me learn things and I learned a lot.
    Most people are not curious. They don't care about whats happening around them, just a meaningless life thinking about nothing that matters. Its really sad.

    And yes, you are right. Most students don't know what to pursue in college or what career to follow. i'min high school and I had my various dreams of different career options since my primary school years. Those dreams kept me motivated. And whenever I asked my friends and colleagues about their dream in life or what they wanted to be, most said, "I Don't Know".
    This actually shocked me. I never understood how they live their life without any destination. Most of my friends are ships without destinations. They just go where the winds blow them. They make decisions not by themselves but from others opinions. Well, i tried my best to help them decide but most times I failed.
    • Jul 15 2013: I believe the reason your friends "Don't Know" is because they lack the confidence to be curious. As you were learning those life skills, didn't you feel more independent? More sure of yourself to make bigger decisions about your own life and what you want to do with it?

      This is why I think it's important to teach students these life skills so they're more confident to make decisions for themselves and not for others.
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        Jul 15 2013: Yes,its lack of motivation and lack of guidance in life and also because they did not care about their future. And some were just dumb.

        Yes I did feel more independent. I'm making huge decisions in my life. Right now,I'm planning to buy a house in Ibiza. I've set my eyes on some very beautiful small houses. I plan to move and stay alone in 2 years and you know,live a life. I'm just 18 so I'm still on a hinge whether to actually do it or not. Its a huge decision.

        And yes, its very important. I hope you can help others decide their future.I'll do the same too.
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    Jul 15 2013: There are three categories of younsters in my view

    First Category.. They learn from mistakes and experiences of others (Makes few mistakes themselves)
    Second Category...They learn from their own mistakes and experience( First makes mistakes and than learn)
    Third Category ....They learn with difficulty or never learn (Never learn and mistakes are repeated)

    Identify the category and help accordingly.
  • Jul 15 2013: I think the problem with finding ones path is that there are so many paths to choose from. With an abundance of choice the 'what if' prevents us from being happy or sticking with a certain path.
    • Jul 15 2013: Yeah that's true, there are so many more professions today than 10 years ago. But we need to stop thinking like we need to BE something.

      Students should be able to know that they have the ability to DO anything. Occupations are just labels invented by the people who started them.

      The problem isn't finding a path. It's making one that scares the hell out of us.
      • Jul 15 2013: actually saying you can do anything is wrong. People need to quit telling their children this, instead tell them to learn their own strengths and weaknesses and base a decision off that.

        I feel what happens when children are told they can do anything is that if they arbitrarily choose a career and then find out they can't do it after being told they can for so long that they become disillusioned.
        • Jul 15 2013: I disagree.

          A human being doesn't give up because of his or her ability. They give up because they lost hope or ambition. Most individuals have the ability to do anything because we're all born with a cognitive brain.

          This is why we learn, adapt, and choose what we want to do with our lives.

          Simon Sinek mentioned in his presentation "How great leaders inspired action" that Oliver and Wilbert Wright didn't have any of the "strengths" one might posses in making a flying machine. They didn't have the money, publicity, or support that Robert Peirpont Langly had when he was hired by the government to do the same thing. And yet, with all their weakness, they've made history happen even though they seem disillusioned.

          Recognizing strengths and weaknesses is lesson of humility. But in order to have humility, you need to possess confidence first.
      • Jul 15 2013: the wright brothers did have some advantages, such as being tinkerers and owning a bicycle shop and thus knowing basic mechanics and how they work in reality.

        I am more saying that a person terrible at math cannot realistically expect to be a rocket scientist, and things like that. The modern world is very different from when the Wright brothers walked the world, there is a lot more specialization that prevents casual practitioners from making breakthroughs.
        • Jul 16 2013: So perhaps the fact that there are so many specialized fields, it is harder to make a big impact on the world.

          Do you think this decreases the confidence in young adults and thus lower or perhaps change their incentive? Is this why they don't think about the impact on the world but rather the money?
  • Jul 15 2013: If you have a good fundamental education, the above subjects can, and should, be self-taught. The main thing today's youth is lacking seems to be CRITICAL THINKING. Without questioning everything you're told, you can easily be led to believe anything at all.
    • Jul 15 2013: I can see why all these things should be self taught.

      However those people protesting on wall street were self taught on student loans no?

      As being part of today's youth, I can say for me personally that I didn't engage in real critical thinking until I realized what it actually was. And the reason why I didn't do it before is because I lacked the self identity and confidence to question everything.

      Don't depend on the education as you can see from Ken Robertson's talk that the system promotes knowledge but not creativity which is a huge part of critical thinking.

      So where are we suppose to get critical thinking? Question everything? Parent's don't want that because that's just another stress on their hands and don't even depend on schools.

      I believe critical thinking comes from self identity. In order to get self-identity, you need the confidence.
  • Jul 15 2013: "I understand that these can be learned through parents or as you go on, but what about the 99% protesting on Wall Street? If they knew about credit scores or interest rates, would so many students have taken out those loans?"

    I don't think it's correct in assuming that people are protesting wealth disparity are simply angry because they didn't know about loans or interest rates attributed to student financing. The fact is that there is a tremendous income gap between the top earners in this country, and the rest of us. Rather, a better question is why it costs so much to go to school in the first place, and why that gap is so wide.

    SallieMae is one of the largest private student loan suppliers in the country. Private student loans are needed for students who can't go to college solely on federal financial aid, and require additional financing. SallieMae also applies many types of fees, has higher interest rates than federal loans, and isn't nearly as forgiving as the federal financing with loan forgiveness, etc. - yet the company just reported record high profits. It benefits Universities to use it. The Universities get more tuition-paying students, SallieMae gets fees and interest paid, less you suffer the consequences of an angry corporation after you - and everyone benefits except the students, parents, and families who have to pay for it all.

    The short of it is this: many students NEED to take out loans. I took out loans. A lot of money just for undergraduate. I graduated with honors and after a year of tireless searching, found a job at a University that pays... okay, but not enough to move out of my parents and fend for myself. Why not? Because at least one paycheck every month goes straight to paying off my loans. I'm beginning my adult life waist-deep in debt, like many others.

    Understanding interest rates, and the way banks work isn't the real problem. The real problem in most of this country is how it rewards corporations at real people's expense.