The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday April 17th

Column: What we should actually be learning in college

Alexandra Zubrowicz, first-year student and Contemporary European Studies major regularly attends zoom class within her Ehringhaus dorm room. Virtual learning has confined many freshmen to their residence halls and limited their educational environment.
Buy Photos Alexandra Zubrowicz, first-year student and Contemporary European Studies major regularly attends zoom class within her Ehringhaus dorm room. Virtual learning has confined many freshmen to their residence halls and limited their educational environment.

It only takes one look at the UNC subreddit to find students mentally struggling through the semester. I’ve seen several posts lately from members who feel like they are wasting their time or gaining nothing from the “Zoom University” experience. 

And this struggle isn’t limited to UNC students. When talking with friends from my home university, Sciences Po Paris in France, one of them commented on how there are many more useful things that we could be learning instead of wasting away in online classes. 

I think that sentiment is more than correct. Though vaccine distribution makes the end of this whole nightmare feel close, we will still be finishing the semester online.

We could be using this time to learn about things that will actually be useful to us in the future. Instead, we’re stuck with modified filler courses just so we don’t lose the semester. Or worse, actually having to struggle through major requirements online. 

What could we be learning and doing that would help us better prepare for the future? Here are a few ideas for things that might actually be useful for us to learn, considering graduation is coming up:

Taxes

One of the suggestions I've heard from fellow students is learning how to file taxes. As the adult world looms over us, especially for those who are graduating, it’s easy to see there's a lot we weren’t taught. 

Managing finances and taxes is something not everyone has the opportunity to learn, and the curriculum surrounding these topics is usually found in obscure electives. No one gives us a handbook about these things when we graduate, but it’s worth it to have the option to learn about these topics readily available.

Well-being support

A lot of students struggling with mental health are scared to reach out and get help from someone other than friends, whether that be for mental or academic help. As many Healthy Heels emails as we get, does anyone actually know how to reach out to get the many services available at UNC? 

I went through three phone calls to different places to finally end up in academic coaching. Learning about well-being support, and where to find it, is something that many students can use to further their academic careers and personal lives past graduation.

Self-defense

A little bit of self-defense can’t hurt anyone, but it could save someone. The college atmosphere can certainly come with a certain level of danger when it comes to parties and drinking, but there are also dangers present in daily situations. 

Learning a martial art obviously takes a very long time, but a course on some basic moves to get out of real-life situations would be useful for undergraduates during their time in college and beyond. 

Rights awareness

We all know the lines “you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can and will be used against you," but there are a lot more rights we need to be aware of as we enter the real world. We should learn about rights where employers are concerned, such as legal policies regarding salaries and breaks. 

And, as we begin signing leases and housing contracts, what are our personal rights where landlords are concerned? This practical kind of knowledge is missing from our education and could be very valuable not only in the future, but in our immediate lives. 

opinion@dailytarheel.com

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