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Saint Mary’s offers new course about ‘adulting’

| Thursday, January 18, 2018

A new, one-credit course at Saint Mary’s, Adulting 101, aims to help students generate and practice important life skills in order to be productive and confident adults — both in the workplace and in society.

Terri Russ, associate professor of communications, dance and theater, said she decided to start the course after a group of students helped her come up with the idea and some of the curriculum last year in response to a question regarding how to negotiate a salary raise.

“We started talking about that and why it’s important to always negotiate your salary and why it’s not a skill we learn because it’s so pivotal,” she said. “And then the conversation kind of developed into other really important life skills that we don’t know a lot about. And then from that we saw a need.”

Recently, Russ said, she noticed a lack of training for women in terms of life skills they will need after graduating from college, and her students saw it as well. As a group project, she said, they came up with ideas for a training and preparation course for the College to offer.

“The class put together a proposal that Saint Mary’s College should offer a class on ‘adulting,’” Russ said. “At first it was a joke — that was our shorthand way of referring to it — and then we decided that we should go with that title because it really does communicate [what] we’re trying to get out.”

The class decided the specifics of the course and its objectives, Russ said. A group of five students in the class then volunteered to present the ideas they had collaborated on to College President Jan Cervelli so the course might become a reality, she said.

“So we invited President Cervelli to class, and they pitched the idea to the president and she committed to it on the spot, and so here we are,” Russ said.

Although she is not sure what to expect from the new course, senior Grace O’Connor said she is excited to step out of her comfort zone and learn something meaningful.

“The course description seemed really interesting, and I felt like the content would help with my life development after graduation,” O’Connor said. “Hopefully, after finishing this course, I’ll be able to deal with real-world adult issues that I haven’t had to deal with while in college.”

Russ said the class will deal with issues such as finding a job, finding an apartment or a doctor and networking. She said each week there will be a different real-life topic at hand, and she hopes the group discussions will end up helping her students prepare to leave college. Adulting 101, Russ said, will allow students to make mistakes in the classroom instead of out in the real world.

“As a college we do a really great job of helping students transition into Saint Mary’s, so this is a way to help students transition out,” she said. “So I think it’s just about walking out of the class and having a solid foundation of basic survival skills.”

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