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For any high school student, graduation is both an exciting and scary time. Exciting because it’s the next stage of their life. Scary because it’s the time when many teenagers are expected to start taking responsibility for themselves. Whether it’s traveling away to college or attempting to get into the jobs market, graduates have a lot on their plates.

But as teachers and educators, are we doing enough for our students to prepare them for their future?

What about life lessons?

While much of what we teach students is designed to help them pass tests and succeed academically, there is far less focus in high schools on offering students life lessons that can make all the difference to their actual success in the real world.

With the majority of students now leaving education with minimal knowledge of how to sustain and care for themselves in reality, it can seem like we’re failing our children when it comes to making up for the gap between skills learned in school and the application of those abilities in real life.

In fact, according to high school students like Aliezah Hulett, high school students aren’t getting access to many of the important real-life skills they need. This includes:

  • Realistic and inclusive sex education
  • Understanding the metric system
  • Knowing how to communicate professionally

Practical skills and knowledge

So, what can we do to ensure children are more prepared for their future adult life, and less stuck in the cycle of education and learning over gaining practical skills and knowledge? The answer is more straightforward than you think and involves flipping the perspective we have on what learning means on its head.

The solution might be to alter the way we see education. Instead of focusing on academic success as a measure of how well someone will do in life, it’s essential also to consider the vital life skills students need to succeed. After all, it’s no good having top-tier perfect scores in all your classes if you struggle to think critically, don’t know how to manage your money or have no clue when it comes to how to portray yourself in an interview. This is especially true when we push education, but many employers are looking for experience or skills when it comes to filling those all-important job roles. By understanding that knowledge should be more than just being book smart, we can help students go further.

While your student might excel at calculus or be a genius at geography, if they don’t have that solid foundation of applicable life skills, they may still find themselves unable to succeed in their field of choice.

Here are just a few of the skills we should be teaching high-schoolers that are far more applicable to the real world than what we read in textbooks:

Critical thinking and problem-solving

In many workplaces, the ability to think outside the box and manage our responsibilities effectively are vital skills. While these abilities may not be quantifiable with a qualification or certificate, high schoolers with better skills in adaptability and solving problems will find it easier to overcome issues in the workplace – and in life in general.

Understanding the need to make the right choices, and the consequences of not making them can also be valuable skills. Especially in an environment where everything isn’t quite as black-and-white as it was in high school.

Money and finances

It might seem obvious that to be a successful adult; you need to understand money. But for many parents and teachers, providing high schoolers with information and guidance on the ins and outs of cash isn’t at the forefront of our minds.

Whether it’s teaching your students how to manage finances and file taxes when they are self-employed or providing them with information on anything from loans to credit cards, budgeting to expense reports, these skills are highly valuable. Providing this knowledge in the classroom not only sets students up for success but also offers them a great head-start on managing their finances and spending. This reduces the need for muddling through and the chances of getting things wrong.


Your students may be stellar when it comes to their work ethic or experts when it comes to their subject matter. But if they can’t communicate effectively with others, they are likely to miss out on countless opportunities throughout their lives. Providing students with the tools to speak appropriately in job interviews, and collaborate with colleagues in the workplace can be the exact knowledge needed to help high schoolers go further in life.

What skills do you think high school students are missing out on? Feel free to let us know in the following comments.