Life Skills Seminars have been in full swing for the seniors since we returned from winter break in January. So far, we have covered topics from personal finance to time management, interviewing skills to friendship—and there is still more in store.

This specific time in senior year allows for some non-academic curriculum as the vast majority of college applications are due at the beginning of January. Most students are done with the application process when we return from winter break, so we viewed the last six weeks of Trimester Two as the perfect opportunity to go over topics not typically covered in the classroom – basically how to adult.

Mr. McCorkleMr. McCorkle sharing some details about financial literacy 

Recently, UC Berkeley made headlines for offering an eight week, one unit course, simply titled Adulting, and it’s packed. There can be so much pressure on students to achieve academically in order to earn a spot at their preferred college. Some might say that we may be forgetting about the importance of imparting other essential skills that take them far beyond the college years. This year, we set out to change that.

Interviewing SkillsMs. Myers leading an interviewing skills exercise

Knowing that we were adding Life Skills Seminars to the College Counseling curriculum this year, as soon as we returned from summer break we invited faculty members to provide a life skill lesson on any topic that they felt especially passionate about. We specifically asked them to choose topics that they thought would be helpful for the seniors as they make the huge transition to college. We also asked seniors in the college counseling class for topics they would like to have covered. One such idea from a senior was about basic bike care, and on our very first day of Life Skills, Music Subject Expert Teacher, Ms. Jay, presented a seminar on bike care and road safety.

Cooking with Seniors

Seniors learning how to make salsa with Dr. Parson

When this idea was still in its initial planning phases last fall, we had hoped to have enough material for two to three lessons a week. To our complete amazement, every single day was quickly booked. We think teachers took the opportunity very seriously, and viewed it as one last chance to help mentor the class of 2020. It is important to note that it’s not only teachers who felt this drive—we also had a 2019 alumna return to talk about the transition to college, what life is like for her at a small liberal arts college, and how her experience compares to her friends who wound up at large research institutions.

Ultimately, we know that we can never prepare our students for everything, but hopefully we have planted some seeds and they will be slightly more prepared for life after high school. At the very least, they now know how to scramble an egg.

BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a private middle and high school in San Jose offering students in grades 5-12 a program benchmarked to the best education systems in the world.