What A Liberal Arts Education Is Missing

Now I’m not positive whether or not some people’s parents offer them more practical knowledge than I’ve received, or if everyone is truly faking it until they either make it…or die. Cheery, right?


Helena Ducusin

3 years ago | 4 min read

When I first started college, I was naive enough to believe that by the time I graduated, I would have my life (somewhat) figured out.

Now, with a little less than two semesters to go before I’m released into the “real world”, that is absolutely not the case. Although, there is some hopelessly optimistic part of me that keeps telling me I could still do it in time. Sort out my life, I mean.

Now I’m not positive whether or not some people’s parents offer them more practical knowledge than I’ve received, or if everyone is truly faking it until they either make it…or die. Cheery, right?

As an attendee of a Christian liberal arts college, I spent my first couple years pursuing not only my intended major, but a sprinkling of other subjects as well.

Among others, these included a freshman seminar, introductory philosophy, environmental science, and women in the Bible— all intended to widen the breadth of my worldview and experience and engage in a wide variety of topics. Some aspects were directly applicable to my major and others were not.

Nonetheless, I believe my general education classes were more or less beneficial to my overall education and allowed me to better decipher the things I enjoyed most.

However, I would like to suggest a change to the liberal arts curriculum. Not necessarily a removal, though I’m sure many students would have opinions on that, but an addendum. A required course that covers all the information people expect you to know by the time you’re living on your own.

Yes, I might be exposing my lack of street smarts here, but once again, this is why liberal arts education should include these uncommonly talked about life skills. I’m appalled that there’s a chance I may enter the bona fide adult world without knowing these things.

First things first. All things finance. Checkbooks. How to open and manage a bank account. Practical tips for budgeting money and how to go about making big purchases, such as a car or a house. Maybe an obvious one here, but I hardly know anything about taxes and am constantly worried I’ll unintentionally commit tax fraud.

Credit cards, how to build up your credit, etc. Along with that, investments, and whether or not they’re worth it, or how to even start. I know this is typically covered in a finance class, but I’m sure most people (or me, at least) would care more about the practical side of finance rather than the mathematical.

Basic house maintenance, such as unclogging a drain, cleaning your gutters, and what cleaners you can or can’t use on a stove. Cooking things other than instant ramen and burritos. Not everyone has parents to teach them.

This may just be the introvert in me, but the proper procedure for appointments. How often you should go to the doctor or dentist, what routine tests you should have done and when, and how to tell that an issue is concerning enough to see a professional.

What’s a mortgage, and how do they work? Don’t tell anyone, but the extent of my knowledge about mortgages is from Monopoly. Also, insurance. How you can tell what coverage you need, where you have coverage, and how deductibles work. All the different adult buzzwords that you’re expected to know but don’t (and then have to sneakily Google when you get a chance).

Aside from that, all students should have a thorough understanding of their governmental system and politics. The importance of voting and the purpose of each position.

How to travel safely and live alone safely. Self defense.

And one of the most important things I think all humans should learn about by the time they’re on their own— mental health. It’s incredibly important to begin with, and the corporate 9–5 work culture Americans feed off of can be really detrimental to mental health. Not to mention high school counselors are notoriously unhelpful (not trying to be mean, just speaking from experience).

By the time people enter the work force they should have a solid understanding of how to manage stress, evaluate the ways they would benefit from different forms of self care, and how to heal from trauma. Also, where to find a therapist.

But more than anything, I want there to be more validation for the not knowing. I want to hear that it’s okay that I might not know these things and for someone to educate me without shaming me for my lack of knowledge. If colleges are advertising a liberal arts education that will prepare students to be well-rounded human beings, they should follow through.

Teach them how to live on their own without the need to search up a YouTube how-to anytime a new situation arises. Feel holistically prepared for the rest of their lives, even if the direction remains a little unclear.

If anyone with power to change these things is reading, hear this: I feel unprepared. I want to know that it’s okay to not know exactly what I want to do with my life, but I also don’t want to feel like I’m drowning the moment I no longer have the resources I’ve been so blessed to have throughout college.

I want future college students to feel ready and excited for the rest of their lives instead of feeling scared. If I could give them all the answers right now, I would. But alas, I am a little lost. All I can do is hope that the liberal arts powers-that-be realize that their general education is a little less general than they thought, and that some day I’ll figure everything out. I’m sure we all will eventually.

Fake it ’til you make it, right?

(And if anyone has answers to any of my knowledge gaps, please educate me, kindly. I would really appreciate it.)


Created by

Helena Ducusin

Student at George Fox University. More of her writing can be found at







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