College students spend tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of their time pursuing a degree, all in the hopes they will one day obtain their dream job. Students take classes that are supposed to better prepare them for their future career, but those classes often don’t teach them life skills they’ll need after college.

While some people would say college does prepare students for real-life careers, the real problem is that college doesn’t prepare students for real bills, debt, independence or how to be an actual adult after graduation.

Some students are forced to develop time management skills and to at least be partially independent during college. No one is telling students what to do with their time; it is up to students to develop good time management between studying, school work, social life and work.

College students make their own class schedule, meaning if they sign up for an 8 a.m. class, they better either be disciplined enough to wake up on time or be a morning person. Alarm clocks are college students’ only way of waking up in college for class; parents and guardians are no longer around to wake us up like they did when we were at home.

A lot of students remain in dorms and on meal plans. Dorm living means students do not pay monthly rent and bills. All the money students owe is accessed within the first month of school and taken out all at once. College expenses are paid for by grants, scholarships and loans. The same is true for meal plans.

Meal planning means students do not have to pay out of pocket (usually) for meals. Students also may never learn how to cook either, an essential part of being an adult. After you graduate, meal plans are nonexistent. Students often spend whatever income they receive and never learn how to properly budget and save because students don’t have to worry about paying monthly bills and weekly groceries.

This a huge problem because once graduation finally comes, some students might move back in with their parents, which is fine at first. However, eventually we all have to leave the nest and while you may have a college degree and know how to do chemistry, biology, math, write English papers and give a public speech, you might not know how to set a budget, spend wisely or save your money.

After graduation, many students are left in student loan debt. Thinking of the thousands of dollars I am accumulating is scary. What’s even scarier is not knowing how I will pay back that debt or how the process even works. College drains students’ pockets and forces them to take out several loans each semester, but it does not teach students the consequences of accumulating these loans, or how students are supposed to pay them back after graduation.

“All of a sudden, my $120,000 college degree is looking less and less useful,” writes Clair Cortese in the article, “How College DOESN’T Prepare You For Adulting In The Real World,” posted on Odyssey. Cortese says that after graduating and moving home, she realized college never taught her about W-4’s, balancing checkbooks, or buying her first car.

As of right now, the only way students learn how to be an actual adult in college is if they commute to campus. Being a commuter and living at your own house teaches students a lot of real-life skills. Students learn how to apply for their own housing, pay monthly bills and living expenses, cook and clean for themselves. It may be harder to be in college and do all of these things at the same time, but moving out over the summer, and not while school is in session, can make the process much easier for students.

While general education classes may be important, it is really not necessary for students to take two different science classes, but never take one class about budgeting, saving or loans. Some people might believe it is not a college’s responsibility to teach students these important skills, and that our parents should teach us.

However, we cannot rely on our parents to teach us all of these skills either. While they may be able to show us how to write a check, very few parents know how to properly budget either. If they did not get their college degree, they will not know how to handle the repayment process. For first-generation students, like myself, we have to teach ourselves all of these important skills because our parents and college does not.

Graduation is only two years away for me, and I have zero idea on what will happen once I receive my degree because college has not fully prepared me. As a broadcasting and electronic media major, the only thing I feel like college has taught me is how much I hate chemistry class and how to write journalism stories. I love my major, but while writing stories may get me a job, it is not going to help me set up a budget.

College students pay tens of thousands of dollars to achieve a degree. Those thousands of dollars should also be put to use educating students about how to survive in the real world after college.

As of right now, the only way students learn how to be an adult in college is through making a change of living on their own, off campus and away from the confines of dorm life. College needs to start preparing students for a life when dorms and meal plans are no longer there.

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