Although some regard academia as an environment detached from the pressures of the “real” world, graduation and the complex challenges presented by adult life linger on the horizon and minds of undergraduates. For many Tufts students, topics such as financial management, budgeting, taxes, retirement planning and other practical concerns seem unmanageable and intimidating. The lack of practical preparation for post-university life falls at odds with Tufts’ values: “creating and sustaining an environment that prepares to launch all our students into the world fully prepared to chart a course for success.” Although some Tufts resources provide practical guidance, Tufts must extend efforts to champion these values by creating more classes focused on practical skills and thus better preparing students to navigate adult life.
While Tufts provides some resources that teach “adulting” skills, these offerings prove insufficient due to time-constraints, limited space, inadequate frequency of programs and content limitations. Although the economics department offers some finance classes, such as Introduction to Finance, these courses present too large of a time commitment for non-economics majors and only cover corporate topics rather than applicable personal finance. However, the less time-consuming courses, such as the Hillel “Adulting 101” sessions, hold disadvantages as well, for they run inconsistently, do not offer students SHUs, fill up quickly and are only available to seniors. Additionally, the two Experimental College economically practical courses running this semester hold severe content limitations; they solely focus on finances, ignoring countless other skills vital to living a productive adult life. Despite the clear applicability and value of financial knowledge, these courses fail to discuss equally as important topics such as workplace culture, salary negotiations and retirement planning.
As a consequence of these deficits, students must turn to Tufts services, such as Tufts Debt Management services and the Career Center, which hold significant time limitations and therefore transmit little knowledge compared to full courses. The #Adulting program hosted by the Career Center engages students with practical skills such as understanding workplace rights; however, these events do not happen regularly. Thus, as several one-day events or simple appointment-based sessions hold severe time constraints and can only cover minimal material, they lack the necessary scope to have a true impact on students’ post-graduation lives.
Moreover, Tufts must expand its resources to help students build the skills necessary for adult success. The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) achieves this mission, for it offers an “adulting” class that discusses the various facets of living a successful post-graduation life. In order to more holistically prepare students for post-university life, Tufts should implement courses similar to that of UC Berkeley that not only discuss finance but other important aspects of adulting as well. Ideally, these courses would also help achieve graduation requirements by holding SHU credit and fulfilling the math distribution requirement; in this form, more students would have the space in their schedules and thus the ability to learn the valuable skills covered in the courses.
These offerings would fulfill an intense student demand for more practical, preparedness-based courses, as shown through student responses to other campus resources. According to Sarah Tessler, the senior representative of the Hillel Board and organizer of the “Adulting 101” sessions, there has been great interest and turnout at the two sessions held so far this semester, and she commented on the associated benefit of increasing practical course offerings.
“I’d really love to see Tufts capitalize on offering classes like these for credit,” Tessler wrote in an email to the Daily. “There’d definitely be a huge demand and I’m sure they could make them feel more academic in some capacity, especially for finance.”
Additionally, Kim Ruane, the current chair of the mathematics department, taught a practicality-based course titled “Financial Math” in Fall 2009 that focused on the basics of money management and the practical reasons for studying mathematics. The course was very popular among students, immediately filling up with a long waitlist; however, a lack of resources to support the large student demand for the course led to its discontinuation during the regular term. Considering this reasoning, the course’s cessation was truly unacceptable and highlights the current unfulfilled void of student demand for these practical, adult-preparedness courses.
Further, in order to more fully reflect its self-expressed values, Tufts must better prioritize the post-graduation preparedness of its students by creating more comprehensive “adulting” courses. Ultimately, if we cannot manage a checkbook, deal with communication issues in the workplace, create an investment plan or stand up to our bosses, we will not be successful in the long term despite the heightened essay-writing, textbook-reading skills cultivated throughout the university experience. Thus, this improvement to the Tufts curriculum is vital to the creation of responsible, prepared and successful adults, lying at the core of both students’ and Tufts’ ultimate goals.