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Image / Editorial

A class on how to adult? Sign me up

by Colette Sexton
10th Jan 2020

Would you have benefited from a class on how to adult in college? One university is offering just that, and it’s proving useful to students

A course at the University of California, Berkeley has been generating some attention recently. No, it’s not the Californian university’s class on the Politics of Southeast Asia or The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs or Criminal Justice and Surveillance in America. Instead, it is a class on adulting. Yes, adulting. 

According to the LA Times, 60 students each term can sign up for the class, which is led by two Berkeley undergrads and run through the university’s DeCal programme, which is made up of student-run courses. They plan discussion topics and schedule guest speakers to fill 90 minutes each week.

Some of the guest speakers included a recruiter from Lyft who spoke about resume building; a psychology professor who gave stress relief tips; an accountant to explain how to pay taxes; talks on how to navigate romantic relationships in the online world and an economics professor that advised students on the importance of saving.

Good or bad idea?

Adulting class sounds like a great idea to me. Often we stumble into major life events and have to navigate our way out of them, either sinking or swimming. There are so many things that could benefit us individually and as a society if we have some basic education in advance. 

Take, for example, personal finance. Very few among us learned how to pay our taxes or make a household budget or the importance of pensions or how to get a mortgage in school or college. Instead, as we grow older and they come up in our lives, we have to do some guesswork or internet research (or ring our parents) to find out what to do (as an add-on, when it comes to pensions, always opt-in, as young as possible. You’ll thank me when you’re older).

Imagine the benefit to society if the ins and outs of tracker mortgages and deposits and fixed interest rates were explained to the generation that was offered 100 per cent mortgages during the Celtic Tiger? The vast majority would probably have run a mile if they had been given the correct education in time. 


Leaving aside finance, relationships are completely different nowadays to what they were previously. Back in the day, people mainly met in person at social events or through friends and family. Now the majority of people meet their significant other online.

A study by Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld found that about 39 per cent of heterosexual couples in American reported meeting their partner online in 2017, compared to 22 per cent in 2009. That number is likely to increase further, and with it comes a whole range of changes that never occurred during dating the old-fashioned way.

For example, you need to think of your safety when meeting them for the first time or you might need to keep personal information off your online public dating profiles in case you have a sensitive job. This might seem obvious to the older generation, but not so much to people who grew up as digital natives (maybe even your children, whose first steps, first tooth and first embarrassing moment you probably willing shared yourself on Facebook without giving their future digital presence a second thought).

And then there is the importance of wellness education. The vast majority of people do not even know when they are stressed, and often it can only be after the stress manifests itself in physical pain such as backaches or difficulty breathing, that they realise they need to slow down. It would be such a benefit for people from a young age to be taught to recognise their own early signs of stress and learn how to deal with them.

With all of that said, if any of you want to set up an adulting class — sign me up. I’d also be interested in additional modules such as: How To Grow a Plant Without Killing It Immediately, Sowing 101, What to Put In Each Bin, and What To Do When Your Boiler Stops Working.

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