You learn plenty in school. But there are many useful, practical things you don’t learn at school. If you are old enough to read this, then I am confident you already know that. But what you may not know is that the majority of important things are learnt outside of the classroom, rather than at a desk inside it. This is not to say that school isn’t important – there are some valuable skills that can only be found in a classroom. Instead it’s implying that the classroom will not fully prepare you for life as some would think.
So check out these 20 things you probably won’t learn at school.
1. You don’t need maths (or science) to be successful
Studying maths and science is necessary and important for a lot of university courses and eventual careers. But those who have never studied maths or science at school have just as much chance of being successful in life than those who didn’t. Specifically, I matriculated with a B in each, and haven’t needed either since then – and I’m doing alright.
2. How to buy milk
Milk can be expensive. A clever way to reduce this cost is to buy the packets of milk, instead of the cartons. Then store your milk in a jug when you open it. In the long run, this can save you money.
3. What to study at university
Study what you love. Don’t study what your parents studied, don’t study what your friends are studying, and don’t think you have to study medicine just because you got good marks at school.
4. What to order on a first date
There are many things you can order on a first date. Spaghetti is not one of them. Neither is anything with unnecessary amounts of onion.
5. Making hot chocolate the right way
You’ll want four teaspoons of hot chocolate. Next, add some milk while the water boils and stir until you get a thick chocolate mix. Lastly, pour the hot water in and the result will be a beautiful, foamy hot chocolate. Enjoy.
6. How to develop a credit history
A good credit history can help you get insurance, makes you more appealing to employers, and increases your chances of making big loans to buy a house or car one day.
To develop it, get a credit card that is linked to a regular purchase you make. Shop a lot at Mr Price? Use the Mr Price card. Shop at Clicks often? Get the Clicks card. Use these cards and make sure you pay back the bills by the end of the month. It’s an easy way to build a good credit history.
7. What constitutes a good flat mate
This can be tricky. The common perception that just because you get along means you can live with them has led to many fights and slammed doors. A general rule I go by is: if your definition of a ‘clean plate’ is the same, then move in tomorrow.
8. How to entertain yourself without Wi-Fi
Open up your Google Chrome and you’ll find this image (see below). Click ‘spacebar’ and play a game that involves a T-Rex jumping over cacti.
Or you can go outside. Your call.
9. How to fix a laptop
I have no idea. But what I do know is that you should take it to trained technicians, because Nathan – that guy you saw open Microsoft PowerPoint really quickly – doesn’t know how to fix it either.
10. How to treat beggars
Whether they’re tapping on your window at a red light, sitting outside your favourite Woolworths or are at your front door, ignoring them is not the way to do it. You don’t have to give them something, but at least have the decency to look them in the eyes and ask them their name as you would with any other human being.
11. How to use a post box
Write a letter – usually to your great aunt who sent you money for Christmas. Then put it in an envelope and write your address (return address) on the back and the destination address (mailing address) on the front. The setup is the same for both: it must be left-aligned with the name of the addressee on the first line, the number and street name on the second line, suburb on the third, city on the fourth, and the postal code on the last.
Who needs emails anyway? Not your great aunt – that’s for sure.
12. Whether Pluto is actually a planet or not
The answer is no. Not since 2003.
13. How to be cool
First of all, wearing sunglasses at night or in a club makes you about as cool as a summer heatwave. If you really want to be cool, then open a door for a lady, respect your elders, be kind to strangers, and do a backflip now and then.
14. How to clean up after yourself
There are many mistakes you can make when at university; getting a helper to clean your digs is one of them. Learning how a vacuum works, where to find dishwashing liquid in Pick ‘n Pay and what it takes to scrub a toilet are all valuable lessons to be learned. Perhaps one day when you have a full-time job and little free time, you can hire a helper, but for now: do it yourself.
15. How to pay a traffic fine
There are several ways to do this: through postal orders (payments made by mail), online, in person at the traffic department, or (if you’re with FNB) at a FNB ATM using your fine reference. The Western Cape government actually suggests that you don’t use postal orders due to fraud, but even without that option – it’s super easy.
16. How to convince a woman that you’re ‘The One’
Treat her with respect. Open the car door for her, listen to her opinions, and offer her your jacket on a cold night. In general, act as if what you did yesterday – even if you’re dating – wasn’t enough. But, most importantly, make sure she sees you doing a backflip.
17. How to cook
Learn to cook while you’re still at home. Take it from me, ProNutro and 2-minute Noodles will only get you so far.
18. How to take a selfie
Don’t. Just don’t.
19. How to be an individual
At school, you have to fit into specific cliques: whether it be the jocks, nerds, goths or whatever else learners can come up with. After school, you have the freedom to be who you are. Learn who that is sooner, rather than later.
20. How to be happy
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Life has many lessons for us to learn, and more often than not, it will take a few mistakes to learn them. So buy the wrong milk, change your university course, order an onion on your first date, take your laptop to Nathan, call Pluto a planet, burn a few meals, take a selfie, and feel free to never do a backflip.
The lessons you learn in the classroom are very important – this article does not dispute that. But let’s not forget that the lessons we learn outside of the classroom are just as important. It’s helpful to be aware that while school may prepare you for university life, it does not do the same for life outside of the lecture theatre. Start learning how to pay traffic fines, post a letter, and build credit history now rather than later when it’s too late.
Ask your dad how to change a puncture on a car, research good recipes, and learn some general knowledge. After all, calculations and poetry can only get you so far.