18 Life Skills Adults Should Know, But Never Learn In School

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There’s a whole reason we created the term “adulting.” Tons of life skills we need IRL are not taught to us until we’re expected to have already known them.

woman saying

woman saying “Welcome to being an adult, it sucks”

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As people’s upbringings and experiences vary, some people learn some things growing up that others do not. School, which is supposed to put us all on a more level playing field, doesn’t always help.

man saying

man saying “it’s become a time to educate our country”

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Gone are the days of learning home ec or trades in school, meaning some skills are not learned widely.

macy breathing into a paper bag saying

macy breathing into a paper bag saying “maybe i should take wood shop instead”

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Here are some of the many skills we should get a heads up about in school before needing them in adult life.

Tyra Banks screaming

Tyra Banks screaming “learn something from this”

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1.Letter writing and sending packages

woman sitting at a table writing a letter

Kids today are not learning all the parts of sending letters (or email for that matter). They don’t know that you need more than one stamp if your envelope weighs too much. They don’t often navigate the post office, which any adult who has had that unique pleasure of doing so will tell you is something you’ll find yourself doing more than you think.

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2.Cooking — from meal planning to shopping to putting the meal together.

Young woman returning with purchases from grocery store takes fresh organic vegetables out of mesh bag putting on kitchen table at home close view

A lot of adults get slack for not knowing how to cook but were never taught about planning a shopping list, prepping food, tricks for keeping a well-balanced diet, or basic details about meal storage (aka when to throw out leftovers so they don’t ‘t kill you).

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3.Paying bills — by mail, by phone, or online

Young business man making financial plan while working from home

When one of your bill payment methods fails, you need to be able to get it done. Write a check, pay by card over the phone, or log in and pay online — it’s important to know all three!

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Modern married multi-ethnic young couple calculating financial bills at home

Understanding money is more than just paying bills. It’s tracking your spending and understanding your trends, and being able to restrict yourself in certain areas if you need to.

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5.An understanding of all the different kinds of insurance

Couple and child with insurance broker

Insurance is one of the more overwhelming but frequent factors of adulthood, and honestly, a lot of people just sign up for whatever, not fully understanding what their policies (whether car, home, auto, or health) actually cover when you need to use it.

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6.Government, from bottom to top

woman with ipad walking down court steps

You learn about government but not enough about the different positions in local government and what they do, as well as registering to vote and researching who you’re voting for from credible sources.

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7.Cleaning your house

Smiling young woman cleaning carpet with vacuum cleaner at home

People think they know how to clean until they learn they’ve been doing it all wrong. If TikTok is any indication, this happens more often than you think. Learning how to clean and maintain a comfortable living environment is a skill many adults would far better.

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Cheerful black kid boy sitting on dad's lap and helping father at linen in basket while doing laundry near washing machine in flight kitchen in weekend at home

Clothes look better and last longer when you take care of them properly. A lot of launderers throw everything in the machine, press some buttons, and hope for the best. Learning about clothes and why it’s important to care for different fabrics in different ways will help a lot of people save money in their wardrobe.

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9.car skills

Hands of car mechanic in auto repair service

For the number of adults who drive throughout this country, not enough of them know how to maintain and care for their own cars. It goes beyond being able to change a tire. It’s understanding what different sounds or errors can indicate is wrong, being able to do your own oil changes, and more. The skills would make a huge difference in driver culture.

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10.Navigating without a phone (maps, compasses, etc.)

Close-up of hands holding compass &  map, in forest

Technological innovations are wonderful, but not always reliable. Adults should know about reading maps (which is apparently being phased out of curricula around the country), navigating with a compass, and safely seeking out directions.

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11.Healthy/safe social media use

Frustrated young adult woman reading message on smartphone

Now that social media is so widely used, people need to learn about using it responsibly. That means protecting your digital safety but also protecting your identity, dealing with adverse social media reactions appropriately, the risks of certain behaviors online, and discerning disinformation online, skills that many adults don’t have a grasp on but will increasingly need as the tech native generation ages.

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12.Basic first aid and CPR

young person performing CPR on a test dummy

Being able to administer basic first aid can make a huge difference in the outcome of someone in a medical emergency, whether it’s keeping a wound from being infected or being able to resuscitate someone via CPR. These skills could reduce the time and money spent on recovery.

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13.How to handle emergencies

Blackout survival kit with basic elements

Medical emergencies are far from the only ones you can encounter. Adults should know what to do in the event of a car accident, how to handle regional weather events like tornadoes and hurricanes, and more, a means and source for dependable information in the event phones aren’t working, and more, but the skills aren’t ever highlighted in formal education.

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14.Resume writing and applying for jobs

Person working on computers next to files

Moving into the workforce is daunting, especially when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing and have had to fill out several varieties of the same application for the umpteenth time. Writing resumes with keywords, being able to tell fake job ads from real ones, and interviewing skills being taught in schools would make such a difference in so many adults’ experiences starting their careers.

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15.Social etiquette

man holding a bouquet of flowers behind his back as woman answers door for date

The idea is that you’re supposed to learn social etiquette from the schooling experience, but such isn’t always the case, especially in our increasingly remote world. It would be nice for schools to have direct discussions about social boundaries, making and appropriately interacting with friends, and safe and appropriate ways to approach romantic relationships, as well as what to do in situations that become unsafe or otherwise hostile.

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Woman mid exercise outdoors

Imagine what a different world we would live in if we learned how to engage in self-care formally. Understanding how to rest and recharge, knowing how to listen to our body and regulate our emotions can make adulthood a totally different experience.

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17.Goal Setting

New Year 2023 goals and resolution business concept with notebook, coffee cup, computer keyboard and plant on modern office desk

Schools hope to inspire ambition but don’t teach us how to actionable work on it with skills like organization and planning. Setting goals and doing other practices that inspire you can push you, and we could all use the drive to pursue the things we love as an adult.

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18.Basic home repairs

Young woman sanding wall with a sanding block after skim coating.  Preparation before painting

Painting, patching a wall, installing a ceiling fan, and taking care of your appliances are all things adults would fare way better (and save a lot of money) by knowing.

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What other life skills do you think should be taught in schools? Share in the comments!