“I am done with high school, now what?”

A new curriculum can prepare students for the “real world”

Zeniya Buggs, Managing Editor

How do I file taxes? How do I communicate in a work setting? How should I budget? What are stocks and how do they work? Junior and senior year are crammed with exam testing to prove progress of academic mastery. However, this intense testing focuses more on memorization and is essentially meaningless outside of the classroom. The curriculum, as it is, emphasizes test scores and ignores basic skills needed to thrive in the real working world. While high school gives us strategies on how to think critically, work in teams, follow rules, and meet deadlines, high school students desire more real-world relevance in their courses. Instead of dedicating hours upon hours on material that does not apply to the life of a common adult, the curriculum should be focused more on content that will transfer beyond the four walls of the classroom.

The problem with public education is the model has not been refreshed in a way that benefits students today, nor does it support students of varied post-secondary plans. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 61.8% of high school graduates enrolled in a college or a university in 2021. So how are the remaining 38.2% of students being prepared for the next chapter of their life? While South Gwinnett is an academy school where students can begin learning about career pathways, this model, though well intended, is still flawed and does not properly support a generation that is ready to start working. At South, there are many basic life skills that are not widely available but are necessary for young adults to all know like budgeting, banking, public speaking, home economics, understanding how to make big purchases like on cars and houses- just to name a few. Grace Kouassi, a senior at South Gwinnett High School, explains that she has faced difficulty navigating the world outside of tests and quizzes. She says, “this transition [to post secondary life] has already been very difficult. I have to learn employability skills, finances and how to budget on my own.” This feeling of unpreparedness is common amongst pubic school graduates across the United States. In a study conducted by K-12 Dive, an in-depth journalism site that follows the trends shaping K-12 education, they found that only 30% of high school seniors indicated that they felt “extremely” prepared for life after high school; despite college and career readiness continuing to be the top goal for public education.

So how unprepared are we? Money, the most valuable and recognized medium of exchange in society is very hard to understand, manage, and maintain- especially for young adults who are earning income for the first time. Ms. Kandra Malone, an SGHS financial literacy teacher explains the importance of understanding personal finances. She explains that the financial literacy course is beneficial as it covers several important areas including saving, investing, credit management, consumer loans, identity theft, taxes, and insurance; however, she believes this course can be made more beneficial by incorporating more in depth topics such as behavioral economics, which teaches how values, cognitive biases, and money work together. Overall, life skills, like understanding finances, are vital for every high school student as they transition to the adult world. Despite the pathway that they select at South, every student should be taught and exposed skills that will ensure that they are prepared for life after academics.