How confident are you that you could fix your toilet and file your taxes? For all too many of us, the answer is not at all. I have learned a lot while studying at IE University. My degree has taught me how to calculate the profit maximising quantity of a firm. I know to determine whether a state’s actions could be considered acta iure imperii under international law. However, while IE has taught me the crucial skills I need to succeed in my future professional life, it has taught me much less about how to succeed in my personal and domestic life. In order to create well-rounded and truly successful individuals, this is something IE should change.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a university’s responsibility to teach students how to be adults. Most of us attend college to learn professional skills rather than personal skills. According to surveys, the main reasons people choose to go to college are to improve employment opportunities and make more money in their professional futures. If we agree that colleges should base their curriculums around the reasons students want to pursue higher education in the first place, then it stands to reason that classes should help students become more employable or make more money. Some might argue that life skills don’t accomplish either objective. However, these people would be wrong. Life skills include financial literacy, presentation skills, managing households, time management, and other abilities that could impact professional and financial success. Without these capabilities, students could struggle.
For example, a Chinese field experiment found that not understanding basic concepts, such as compound interest, could have negative effects on individuals. According to the study, educating individuals on just this topic could improve their lifetime utility by 10%. As a result, teaching students about these concepts in IE would probably increase their savings and financial success substantially. This is particularly the case as college graduates often still lack financial literacy despite their higher education level. According to one poll, 81% of college graduates wished that they’d learned more about budgeting and managing money. Meanwhile, studies have also found a positive association between employability and presentation skills. As a result, teaching students some life skills such as financial literacy and presentation skills would actually increase their financial success and employability. This is particularly important as surveys have found that job candidates often lack requisite soft skills. In fact, only 31% of employers said they were satisfied with applicants’ capacities in this area. This suggests that teaching these skills would give IE students a considerable advantage over their peers.
Other life skills can also affect students’ academic performance and college experience. A study found that good time management skills were positively correlated with higher grades in online courses. As a result, teaching students how to get organised and make the best use of their limited time could produce a tangible effect on GPA as well as helping students in their future professional lives. Learning more domestic skills could also be helpful, particularly for first-year students living by themselves for the first time. According to surveys, 90% of parents state that their teenage children lack domestic skills, suggesting that living alone is a challenge for many 18 year-olds living by themselves after starting university. A course dedicated to teaching the skills students are missing could therefore help make the already difficult transition to college a little smoother.
In particular, teaching these kinds of courses would align perfectly with IE’s priorities. IE is already invested in increasing the well-being of students studying one of its degrees. This can be seen through the fact that it offers courses such as the well-being workshop and the strengths-based mindset course. These are even mandatory for my year group, suggesting that IE considers attending these classes crucial. Furthermore, the course materials indicate the rationale for including them in the curriculum, which includes promoting well-being, supporting personal flourishing and helping students develop life skills. IE even already offers some classes focused on soft skills, such as presentation skills. It already knows how important they are to students’ futures, and is already on the right track.
Introducing more courses like these would not only be beneficial for students but be fully in line with IE’s current approach, which aims to prepare students for success in all realms of life. To conclude, IE should implement courses focused on life skills such as financial literacy and time management. These should have the same weight in our curriculum as classes such as strength-based mindset, since they are just as important for success. Other skills should also be taught in elective courses or advanced seminars. This is particularly the case for skills that some students have already learnt, such as cooking, cleaning, and basic household maintenance.
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