Viewpoint: Wait — Are we ready for life beyond graduation?

Most students complain.

We complain about homework. We complain about lacking sleep. We complain about early classes. Heck, we even complain about afternoon classes.

We complain because we’re under stress. Students come to college to prove themselves. Those that do, graduate; those that don’t, go home. If you can make it through the hard-learned lessons in time management, stress management, and most unfortunately, math, you receive your diploma and are suddenly thrust into a world of…

Well, most of us don’t know, exactly.

As a country, we are emerging from an era that lacked confidence in the American dream, in which testimonies of joblessness and low wages were commonplace, an unpleasant background hum. Housing costs are steep. Inflation is rampant. And we’ve been told there are no jobs.

Biology majors who work in fast-food restaurants, liberal arts students who lament their degrees are useless, Occupy Wall Street protesters complaining about thousands of dollars in student loans … the hopeless climate doesn’t exactly inspire our confidence. And since we don’t have any real experience, we can’t know what to expect.

We take many classes in college, and while we do learn many useful and fascinating things, I question how well-prepared we are to face the outside world. Most of us are only just discovering the joys of living alone.

I know I almost poisoned myself the first week I spent in my new apartment because I had never learned to wash dishes properly. Don’t even ask me about laundry. I have a drawer full of pink, linty socks.

Living alone, away from family or others who act as our guardians and buffers to the world of personal and financial accountability, has been a crash course: Adulthood 101.

Even here, though, we lead a relatively cushioned existence. Student housing is provided if you don’t wish to live off campus, complete with meals and in-house washers and dryers. Parents chip in; mine sometimes buy me groceries. Others live in apartments their parents pay for and drive cars that have been provided. These are the solutions to problems like living expenses, but not answers to the questions we need to begin asking. Who tells us how to transition from a world in which we are cared for?

So I would like to suggest a new roster of classes and textbooks for universities across the nation, with titles such as:

•Building your Credit

•How Not to Strangle your Fledgling Finances

•What Not to Buy on your Meager, Starting-Salary Paycheck

•Ramen Will Kill You: Your Stove May Catch on Fire, But You Have to Cook Eventually

•Your Lack of Sleep Will Continue Throughout Your Adult Life

So while we may complain about our lives now, we live in fear of something much worse: We’re waiting to take the biggest exam of our lives, totally unprepared and without a textbook or professor to guide us.

I hope there’s a curve.

Caroline Brewton is a sophomore journalism major from Beaumont and is a copy editor for the Lariat.