Adulting. It’s a 21st-century slang word, defined as a verb in the Urban Dictionary and meaning “to do grown-up things and hold responsibilities, such as a 9 to 5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown-ups.”
Recently, approximately 40 Parkway South High students engaged in a one-week crash course in adulting as part of their Personal and Professional Development class under the umbrella of the Family and Consumer Sciences [FACS] curriculum.
Life and real-world skills are the focus of the FACS curriculum and, after hearing feedback from former and current students, teacher Monica Dickens strengthened the course to include Adulting Week.
“Students desire to build the skills they see their parents demonstrate. Many students over the years have said that they value their education, but also want to build the essential skills to be a successful adult,” Dickens explained. “Adulting Week incorporates student input on what they would like to learn, along with essential skills that students can use now and in the future.”
During the week, students learned basic car maintenance, how to sew on a button and use an iron, fine dining etiquette and networking skills. Employees from Midas also spent time on the South campus teaching students how to check fluid levels and change a tire. The experience helps to remind students that learning to maintain a car can save time and money in the long run. The main focus of the Personal and Professional Development class is to investigate careers and zero in on educational choices while developing a resumé and interview skills.
Junior Mackenzie Froidl enrolled in the course to help narrow down possible career paths. Through the [adulting] class, I am learning that there are multiple pathways in the business field,” she said. “I am leaning toward marketing or business administration.”
Senior Joe Vankirk expressed just the opposite. He already knew car maintenance basics but learning to sew and iron was new to him. His favorite activity of the week was the job fair, sponsored by Junior Achievement, which taught him how to network. Having an interest in the criminology field, he was able to make connections with a Chesterfield police officer, an FBI agent and a detective. The course also opened his eyes to the possibility of entering the military after he had the chance to speak with U.S. Army and Marine Corps recruiters.
“I am still trying to figure out what to do after high school. I was thinking of [being a] police officer, but researching it opened up other pathways to explore,” Vankirk said.
Another benefit of the job fair was the potential of securing a career shadow opportunity. Dickens already has a partnership with Balducci Corporation, which owns local McDonald’s restaurants and participates with the students by conducting interviews and reviewing resumés. Those interactions help the students learn to make appropriate eye contact and shake hands – soft skills that Dickens refers to as power skills.
“We need to focus on building essential power skills and get away from saying ‘soft skills’ because these power skills are more important for the success of our students now and in the future. The essential power skills are communication, collaboration, professional skills, striving for excellence, critical thinking and a growth mindset. While working with industry leaders, they said that if we can build power skills, they can build the knowledge needed for their career,” Dickens elaborated. “If students express a desire to learn specific skills, it is my desire to meet those needs by allotting special time, while also meeting the needs of the curriculum. Student need dictates our learning.”