Adulting 101: Millennial Life Skills Classes

Nowadays, the word “adult” been commandeered as a verb, most commonly used as “adulting.” When you buy new tires for your car, you’re adulting. When you cook a meal from scratch rather than ordering takeout or tossing a frozen pizza in the toaster oven, you’re adulting. Paying your bills on time? Getting a loan? Adulting.

The problem is, many schools no longer teach domestic skills across the board as they once did. Young people today are also living at home longer, resulting in this mini celebration of adulthood success. In 2016, the number of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 living with their parents surpassed other living arrangements for the first time in over 130 years, according to Pew Research.1 In many of these living situations, the parents take care of the bulk of the domestic and financial tasks.

Today, some young people are moving away from home or out of campus housing only to find that they lack some of the basic skills they need to “make it” on their own. These include everything from managing finances and making relationships work to hand-washing a wool sweater and pulling off a dinner party.

Adulting Classes Emerge for Life Skills

In 2017, the Adulting School in Maine was one of the first of its kind to help Millennials become successful adults by teaching essential life skills. According to NPR, co-founder Rachel Weinstein got the idea through her work as a psychotherapist with many clients who were struggling with the transition to adulthood.2 The adulting classes meet at local restaurants and feature topics like folding fitted sheets, balancing the checkbook and managing household bills.

Similar programs are found across the country. The North Bend Public Library in North Bend, Oregon offers a program called “Adulting 101,” where young people between the ages of 16 and 25 gather at the library to learn things that “real” adults may take for granted, like unclogging a sink, asking for a raise and comparison shopping. Several dozen Millennials gathered in Lincoln, Nebraska in early 2018 for a five-hour adulting seminar featuring 30-minute sessions covering a variety of essential life skills.

Universities across the country are also offering adulting classes online and through in-person seminars, and platforms like YouTube offer numerous instructional “adulting” videos for Millennials.

Who Needs Adulting Classes?

Let’s not kid ourselves here: Generations preceding Millennials didn’t emerge into adulthood knowing how to sew on a button or light a pilot on the stove, either. They, too, could have benefitted from Adulting 101 classes, and chances are, some could probably benefit from them even now. “Adulting” classes are a new concept, but the need for such programs isn’t unique to the Millennial generation.

Who were Life Skills Classes Developed for in the Past?

Life skills classes have existed for some time, but they’re not generally available to the average joe. For example, people experiencing homelessness may lack essential skills to successfully find and maintain employment or a home, and social programs often provide life-skills classes for these individuals. Likewise, people who are in recovery from an addiction-particularly young people- may lack the skills they need to find success in a life of sobriety, including employment, relationship and self-care skills. Treatment programs offer a wide range of life skills classes to ensure people in recovery can emerge from treatment with the tools and skills they need for success.

What Skills Are Taught in Adulting Classes?

The curricula of adulting classes vary widely from program to program, but they generally address a range of skills areas, and you can choose which sessions to attend based on your unique needs.

Domestic skills taught in adulting classes help young adults maintain a household and care for their personal belongings. These skills include:

  • Laundry, including deciphering washing instruction symbols on clothing tags
  • Menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking, which can improve your health and save you money
  • Organizational skills to assist in finding important things quickly
  • Unclogging a drain, lighting a pilot light, changing a fuse, fixing a running toilet, and taking care of other small household emergencies
  • Using basic tools to perform basic household tasks
  • Planning and executing a successful dinner party
  • Basic car maintenance

Maintaining good financial health is important for young people. If you have a healthy financial life, you’ll have more opportunities open to you. Some of the financial skills taught in adulting classes include:

  • Balancing a bank account
  • Creating and sticking to a budget
  • Keeping financial records organized
  • stablishing and maintaining good credit
  • Understanding insurance, including renter’s, health and car insurance
  • Creating a system for paying your bills on time
  • Investing
  • Saving money
  • Making wise purchases by comparison shopping, which is a skill that can save lots of money

Millennials grew up with social media, and many feel their in-person relationships skills are lacking. A study by researchers at Hawaii Pacific University and Martin Methodist College found that while Millennials are highly proficient with technology, they’re more deficient in “soft skills,” which are those personal attributes that enable people to effectively and harmoniously communicate with others.3 Soft skills include listening, negotiating, reading body language and feeling empathy. A lack of these skills can put a wrench in love and social lives. Adulting classes often teach relationship skills, including:

  • Listening and communication skills
  • Knowing how and where to meet other people
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Putting forward your best self on social media
  • Making meaningful connections with others in real life
  • Increasing emotional intelligence and soft skills

Older generations complain about the work ethic of Millennials and research from Pew shows that Millennials are the only generation that doesn’t cite “work ethic” as one of their principal claims to distinctiveness.4 That’s not to say that Millennials are lazy or careless. They just put a greater emphasis on self-fulfillment, personal happiness and wellbeing than other generations do. Still, some young people lack the skills they need to find and maintain employment. These include:

  • Identifying strengths and values and finding a job that uses both
  • Resume writing
  • Interviewing skills
  • Customer service skills
  • How to negotiate a raise
  • Maintaining a work-life balance

Other Skills

Adulting classes can address a wide range of other skills that anyone may be interested in learning or honing. These include:

Citizenship skills, including understanding how the government works; the importance of voting; how to write to your representative and make your voice heard; and how to get involved in politics.

Self-care skills, which encompass taking good care of your physical and mental health.

Parenting skills for people with children.

Time management skills, which keep stress levels down and help you get the most out of your day.

Study skills for people entering the higher education system.

Why Should I Take Adulting Classes?

Navigating adulthood isn’t easy. It can be exhausting and stressful, and little mistakes can cause big headaches out in the world. Millennials typically want to do things their way, and they value a high quality of life. Adulting classes help young adults become capable, responsible and self-sufficient adults who schedule their oil changes at 3,000 miles on the dot, know exactly where last year’s tax returns are and handle life’s little emergencies with skill, purpose and grace. In the process, they can set themselves up for reduced stress and greater success across all of life’s domains.