What I Wish I Learned in College

The diploma I still haven't framed.

The diploma I still haven’t framed.

Last week, I read a Denver Post piece about the Ruby on Rails program, an educational curriculum created by Galvanize, Denver’s local community of tech-focused start-ups. Basically, it’s an immersive six-month program that teaches students who have no prior programming experience the hands-on technical skills needed for becoming a professional web developer. The program costs $20,000, but it comes with a money back guarantee: upon completion of the program’s requirements, you’ll be able to get a job in Colorado making at least $60,000 per year, or they’ll give your money back.

Now, as someone who took a couple HTML classes and hated them, this program probably wouldn’t be a good fit for me, but the concept is truly genius. Can you imagine what would happen if education institutions across the country adopted a similar model—learn real skills and get a well-paying job, or we’ll give you your money back?  My mind is a little blown just thinking about it.

I can’t even remember all the completely useless (read: largely hypothetical) classes I took throughout my four-plus years of college, but I’m pretty sure my required reading list of The Virgin Suicides, The Lovely Bones and The Scarlet Letter didn’t help me at all, career-wise. In fact, the only class I can think of that was actually useful was my News Reporting & Writing class (thanks, Professor Borchard). Well, that and my Introduction to Beers class. I do reference that knowledge quite a bit, living in Colorado and all.

With that being said, here are some classes that I wish they did include in my base curriculum…you know, since higher education is supposed to teach you how to function in the “real world” or whatever:

Number Crunching: Basic accounting skills, deciphering student loans and mortgages, and how to do your taxes (considering getting my taxes done at H&R Block cost me $409 this year, I definitely could have used this class.)

Work on the Whip: Covers how to change a tire, change your oil, jumpstart a car and troubleshoot common automotive problems.

Let’s Make a Deal: Negotiation at its finest—how to resolve personal disputes, as well as salary negotiation and strategies for conflict management in the workplace. (I took a “Critical Thinking” class in college that was worthless. It taught us the theories behind arguments and fallacies but not how to negotiate or use logic to actually resolve disputes.)

Rescue 911: This could teach you what to do in an emergency, from first aid and CPR to proper protocol for when you get in a fender bender … you know, life saving stuff that most people don’t actually know.

Host with the Most: A course on entertaining, which covers bartending skills, etiquette, hospitality verbiage, making conversation and working the room. (Useful for parties at home, networking events and when you find yourself working in the service industry, like so many college graduates these days.)

Hablo Español: UNLV didn’t have any foreign language requirements (despite the fact the Las Vegas population is more than 30 percent Hispanic). This kinda just seems useful, either at home or while traveling.

Don’t Mess With Me: I’m thinking a no-nonsense self-defense class that quickly teaches you hand-to-hand combat skills (maybe Krav Maga), coupled with basic firearm training or other weapons training. Sure beats the hell out of Phys Ed.

Bad Bitch in the Kitch’: Seriously, we all have to eat, and even though I know how to cook (now), it would have been nice to save myself all those kitchen disasters in the first place.

Leisure Activities: Basic skills for golfing, billiards, bowling, darts, horse betting, poker and any other sport that you might (reasonably) find yourself in during social situations, especially during business meetings or on a date. (I mean, why not? I took a 3-credit Romantic Film Studies Class, and I think I would’ve benefitted more from learning the basics of gambling, don’t you agree?)


One thought on “What I Wish I Learned in College

  1. Hi Laura. Thanks for your comment — it was unexpected but appreciated. Rest assured, your angst is not yours alone.

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