Adulting illustration

While college is full of core classes, research and memorizing note cards, there are not many classes that teach students practical skills adults must do like how to file taxes, properly budget or schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Oxford Dictionary defines adulting as the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially through the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks. 

Renee Axiotis, an associate professor in the School of Health Sciences, however, said that there isn’t one true definition of adulting but that the idea is about making a transition into a new phase of adult life. 

Axiotis has spoken to many students who are anxious about life in a post-graduation world. Five years ago, Axiotis came up with the idea for Kent State’s course called Adulting 101: Seven Dimensions to a Healthy Adulthood. 

Outside of Kent, the topic of adulting has gained national attention. 

Annie Wright, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California and a graduate of Brown University, said adulting is the term that encompasses the tasks — logistical and emotional — of coming of age with greater levels of responsibility. 

In a 2019 survey commissioned by Farm Rich, the top three signs of adulting across generations were having a budget, buying a house and filing for taxes. 

Katelyn Gorius, who graduated from Kent State in 2018 with a degree in integrated health sciences, said her current apartment requires much more budgeting than her college apartment did. Gorius also took the Adulting 101 course in fall 2017. 

“During my undergrad I lived at (University) Edge, so everything was pretty much factored into my rent,” Gorius said. “But now I live at an apartment where I have to pay my own bills and they come to me. Budgeting is really big for me because I’m the kind of person that doesn’t always think about it.” 

Matthew Burnham, a managing partner at Auxin Group Wealth Management, said it’s important for young people to realize the habits they form early on in life will have a long-term impact.

In fact, 64 percent of millennials (aged 23-37)  said their generation is not good at managing money, according to a survey from Bank of America and USA Today. 

Wright said the statistic has to do with parents of millennials. 

“I wholeheartedly believe this statistic is reflective of the fact that the parents of young millennials are likewise poor at managing their money and so they don’t have the skills or aptitude themselves to be able to teach their children content that they themselves don’t understand,” Wright said. “Financial illiteracy is rampant in this country.”

Burnham somewhat attributes the lack of financial knowledge that college students have to the conversations  they didn’t have available to them when they were growing up. 

“What I see is that there are certain things parents don’t want to talk about with their kids,” Burnham said. 

Previous and current college students seem to agree they weren’t told much about financial wellness growing up. 

“I would definitely say it’s a combination of the parents not teaching the kids, and the kids not asking questions,” Gorius said. “I know that I grew up with my mom and she always dealt with the health insurance. It was like if you go to the doctor, you bring her the papers… and she just figures it out. She never really talked to me about it. I never asked.”

KatiLynn Miller, a senior at Kent State studying school health education, said that parents can only offer knowledge based off their own experiences.

Axiotis designed the Adulting 101 course with the assistance of an adulting book called “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How to Make the Most of Them Now.” The book urges young people to care about their decisions and not waste their 20s on different versions of self-exploration. 

Gorius said the book has expanded her life’s horizons. 

“It almost kind of helps you realize that change is OK,” Gorius said. “Making mistakes is OK. If you’re not happy with your life, try and design a new one.” 

While the book is helpful for students looking to hone in on their adulting skills, Burnham advises college students to create a plan. 

“Establishing a plan of any kind, and sticking to it, will always yield better results than just winging it,” Burnham said. “It’s the number one piece of advice I give to my young clients.”

Burnham also said that he’s started teaching his own children, who are three and five years old, about financial wellness.

“We started teaching them at a young age how money works. We got a lot of push back about this,” Burnham said. “But I have a five year old who understands that when he gets Christmas money or birthday money, he has to put half of it into his piggy back, and he’s allowed to spend the other half.” 

 Other colleges around the nation, such as the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Arizona State University, offer their own versions of adulting workshops and courses. 

Wright said she thinks that these classes would be helpful, to an extent. 

“I doubt that many college-aged students would enroll in courses like these,” Wright said. “I think many college-aged students tend to see adulting and adulthood as some far away, far off thing that will happen in the future, not any time soon.”

Some students think that both colleges and high schools should offer the courses to help students become more aware of the tasks that lie ahead. 

Mallory Scott, a junior studying biology, said being a first-generation college student made her realize that she was becoming more independent. She said having classes in high school about adulting would’ve been helpful to prepare her for the financial aspects of college.  

“I absolutely think it would be beneficial. I think that a lot of the topics covered in the Adulting 101 class are topics that students are almost either expected to figure out on their own, have to ask the parents or they’re just left kind of lost,” Gorius said. “I think these topics aren’t specifically addressed in other courses, so having one specific course that covers it all I think truly helps prepare students for what’s to come after graduation.” 

Contact Linden Miller at lmill155@kent.edu

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