TORRINGTON — One of the common complaints about younger generations is a lack of soft skills, like a proper handshake or basic workplace etiquette, or even a lack of common sense in other areas, including basic home maintenance and improvement.
Some of those things were taught in public schools until the rise of standardized testing pushed those real-world lessons to the backburner in favor of more academic rigor. A pilot program launched this semester in Goshen County high schools is geared towards giving seniors some essential tools that aren’t necessarily a part of the Hathaway Scholarship curriculum.
Adulting 101, according to instructor Madison Bloodgood, is designed to fill some of those gaps between the classroom and the real world.
“It’s how to be a semi-functioning adult,” Bloodgood said, after finishing a 30-minute talk on job interview etiquette and attire with seniors from Southeast High School.
Bloodgood pitched the program first at Torrington High School, and it expanded to Southeast. Bloodgood is a student at Chadron State College, and the class is her senior internship project for her undergraduate degree in psychology. She got the idea while visiting schools through her job with the Division of Workforce Services Vocational Rehabilitation program.
She got the idea from a book called Conquering Your Quarter Life Crisis – How to get your (expletive) together in your 20s. After doing a little research, Bloodgood discovered there is a budding industry for self-help books and programs that deal with the same topics she covers in Adulting 101.
“My boss gave me a book,” Bloodgood said. “She was super adamant that I needed to read it. I read it and I was, like, ‘Yeah, I’ve had to figure that out and figure that out. I haven’t had to figure that out but it sounds like a doozy.’ Looking on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, there are so many self-help books that are how to rectify not having this information. I thought if we could offer it before we get to the quarter life crisis, before we get to ‘I’m 25 and I don’t know how to do a job interview,’ it might be better to start promoting this.”
Adulting 101 includes 30-minute courses on college and job interviews – including resumes and cover letters, how to improve and maintain mental health, and even basic fashion emergencies.
“We did basic fashion emergencies, like how to fix your clothing, how to iron, how to sew a button, how to hem pants in a hurry – you can do it with a stapler, by the way,” she said.
Bloodgood also arranged for a Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper to talk with her students about how they should handle encounters with law enforcement officers.
“We’ve done interaction with law enforcement, and how to interact with somebody who’s pulling you over, who is coming to do a welfare check, how to be kind and polite to a police officer,” she said. “It isn’t something you think we would need to teach, but it’s tough when somebody doesn’t know what to do.”
Southeast seniors Mercy McAndrew and Megan Cline both said they have learned a lot in the class. Cline, who has already been through the job interview process, said she has picked up a few tips that she could have used when she applied for her part-time position at Subway, and some she’ll use in the future.
“There are a few things that I would’ve liked to know before going into a job interview that they taught us in this class, like the earrings you’re supposed to wear,” she said. “I didn’t know that. I told Dylan, my brother, about this class and he said that he would’ve liked to take it because now that he’s in college, it is a lot more advanced than here.”
McAndrew said the class has been especially important during her senior year as she and her classmates are preparing for the college application and interview process.
“As seniors, we’re going to be going into college next year, so the school provided this class so that we would be a little bit better equipped for leaving home and going out into the world,” she said. “In the long run, it will probably be good knowing what to do and having a little bit more advantage than other people who wouldn’t know this kind of thing.”
Bloodgood teaches the courses during the school’s flex periods. She said it can be tough to convey the whole lesson in 30 minutes, but the students seem enthusiastic about the program.
“The Southeast group is actually very receptive to this,” she said. “They are very interactive and they like it. My Torrington groups are also very receptive and they really had fun with the fashion emergencies – they turned sewing buttons into a race, into a game, so that was fun to see.
“It’s fun to see how they all interact with the material because it’s pretty standard material and you never know what somebody is not going to know.”