I Wish That I Knew What I Know Now (And Then Some)

April 5, 2010 at 8:08 am (Uncategorized)

If you had a gun to my head I could maybe solve for the cosine of an angle, but for the most part, I have forgotten almost all of the math that I learned in high school. (Sorry, Jaime Escalante.)   Fortunately, if your job doesn’t specifically deal with numbers, you never ever ever need to know any of it.  Seriously, not even a little bit.  However, when it comes to common sense tasks that require math, like figuring out a budget, making investment decisions, or figuring out the best interest rate on an account, I’ve had to learn how to figure these things out on my own, and even now, I’m not entirely comfortable with my ability to do any of these.  Is there something wrong with this picture?

I was having a conversation with some friends the other day about this, and though we were all lucky enough to go to high schools with a lot of resources, we still felt like we graduated with incomplete educations.  Sure we may have been prepared for AP tests or for college, but as we look at ourselves and our contemporaries now…we’re kind of lacking some common sense skills.  Unless I looked at a cookbook, I wouldn’t know how to roast a chicken.  I learned about compound interest, but I’m not sure how much of my paycheck I should actually be putting into savings.  I’m interested in politics, but I doubt I could draft an effective letter to a congressman or editor of a local paper.

I’m lucky that I could probably easily find the resources to learn these skills, but that’s not the case universally.  I have access to a library, the internet, and knowledgable parents and friends, which is something not everybody has.  There are so many problems with our school systems that maybe this sort of thing is the last thing anybody is worrying about, but it’s really asking a lot of kids to make something of themself when they don’t even have the basic skills to take care of themself!

What’s something you wish that you had been taught in high school that you had to learn yourself? I really wish I’d had some sort of comprehensive education on investing.  I know a tiny amount about the stock market from a sixth grade “gifted ed.” unit, but I feel wholly unprepared to be managing my 401k.  I’ve been able to glean a little knowledge from company handouts and what I’ve found online, but I feel irresponsible knowing so little about something that’s supposed to take care of my future.

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1 Comment

  1. Shavone said,

    I wish I learned about not half-assing everything. I was the kid who could listen in class and get a B and was happy with that. Now, I see the error of my complacency.

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