Adulting School Teaches Young Adults Grown-Up Skills | KUOW News and Information

Adulting School Teaches Young Adults Grown-Up Skills

Feb 21, 2017
Originally published on February 23, 2017 6:50 am

Transitioning to adulthood isn't new, but there is a more modern way to describe it: adulting.

Get your car's oil changed? That's adulting. Cook dinner instead of order takeout? That's adulting.

And now a new school in Maine, called the Adulting School, is dedicated to teaching skills like these to fledgling adults so they can become successful grown-ups.

The school offers private social media groups and live events at local bars and restaurants. At these events, attendees can learn skills like how to network as a pro or how to fold a fitted sheet.

Carly Bouchard, 29, sat among a couple of dozen young adults sipping drinks at a Portland restaurant and hoping to uncover their true financial self.

"I'm a financial cripple," Bouchard said.

Although she went to business school, Bouchard said, she now needs the Adulting School.

"I'm still a dolt," she said. "Not an 'A-dult' — a dolt — when it comes to my finances."

Adrienne Abramowitz, 25, watched a demonstration on proper folding and then grabbed a fitted sheet as her friend Emily Rice, 26, coached.

"You put it together, and then you pinch it," Abramowitz said.

But after a futile attempt, they called for help.

Despite the fun vibe, the goal behind the school is serious.

Co-founder Rachel Weinstein got the idea from her work as a psychotherapist. She noticed many of her clients struggled with the transition to adulthood. Things like paying bills on time and choosing a career were difficult for them.

"You know, when you see 10 people feeling like they're the only one, and they're all struggling with the same thing, you think, let's get these people together so they can learn this stuff and not feel so isolated and ashamed," Weinstein said.

Managing money is a common source of stress for the school's attendees.

They tend to be millennials and women. Lindsay Rowe Scala, 32, said she is trying to figure out how to save for the future and pay off school debt.

"In job interviews, they're always asking 'Where do you want to see yourself in five years?' " she said. "And I never know how to answer that because I'm always thinking on how to survive today and next week and what's coming up."

Holly Swyers, an associate professor of anthropology at Lake Forest College who has researched adulthood, said this stress goes back generations. She said part of the problem is that classes that teach life skills, like home economics, aren't emphasized and there is no dedicated place to learn adult skills.

"We go through this age-graded system, and it tells us just do this and you'll be fine," Swyers says. "And then you graduate from high school or from college, and suddenly, there's no more rules about, if you just do this step, that's what comes next."

The Adulting School has drawn criticism for its perceived coddling. But Swyers said the school deserves kudos for addressing a real problem.

As adults navigate from dependence to independence, Swyers said she would like to see more proactive approaches in helping them accomplish their transition.

Copyright 2017 Maine Public Broadcasting Network. To see more, visit Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

You ever wish there was someone to offer advice on how to be an adult like, say, how to fold laundry? We bring you Adulting School. Here is Maine Public Radio's Patty Wight.

PATTY WIGHT, BYLINE: A couple dozen young adults are sipping drinks at a Portland restaurant, hoping to uncover their true financial style.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So you got an idea of who you are? Yeah? Why don't you get up, and...

WIGHT: They mix into different groups based on their money habits. Twenty-nine-year-old Carly Bouchard sits with others who may share her pain.

CARLY BOUCHARD: I'm a financial cripple.

WIGHT: Even though she went to business school, Bouchard says she now needs the Adulting School.

BOUCHARD: I'm still a dolt, not an adult, a dolt when it comes to my finances.

WIGHT: The Adulting School offers private social media groups and live events like this one at local bars and restaurants. Attendees can learn grown-up skills from how to network like a pro to how to fold a fitted sheet. After watching a demonstration on proper folding, 25-year-old Adrienne Abramowitz grabs a sheet as her friend, 26-year-old Emily Rice, coaches.

ADRIENNE ABRAMOWITZ: So you have the two fingers.

EMILY RICE: Two fingers. Put them together.

ABRAMOWITZ: Do this. Then you pinch it.

WIGHT: But it's not going well.

RICE: Then you grab it by these two. Wait, shouldn't there be, like...

ABRAMOWITZ: This is where I was lost. Brian (ph).

RICE: (Laughter).

WIGHT: The vibe of The Adulting School is fun, but the goal behind it is serious. Co-founder Rachel Weinstein got the idea from her work as a psychotherapist. She noticed that a lot of her clients struggled with the transition to adulthood.

RACHEL WEINSTEIN: You know, when you see 10 people feeling like they're the only one, and they're all struggling with the same thing, you think, let's get these people together so they can learn this stuff and not feel so isolated and ashamed.

WIGHT: Money management is a common source of stress for the school's attendees, who tend to be millennials and women. Thirty-two-year-old Lindsay Rowe Scala says she's trying to figure out how to save for the future and pay off school debt.

LINDSAY ROWE SCALA: In job interviews, you know, they're asking - always asking like, where do you see yourself in five years? And I never know how to answer that 'cause I'm always thinking on, like, how to, like, survive today and next week and what's coming up.

WIGHT: Holly Swyers says this handwringing about adulthood goes back generations. She's an associate professor of anthropology at Lake Forest College who's researched adulthood. Part of the problem, Swyers says, is that classes that teach life skills like home ec are no longer emphasized. And there's no other dedicated place to learn these things.

HOLLY SWYERS: When you graduate from high school or from college, and suddenly there's no more rules about, if you just do this step, that's what comes next.

WIGHT: Though this may be an age-old problem, some people criticize The Adulting School for coddling. But Swyers says the school deserves kudos for addressing a real problem. She'd like to see more proactive approaches that help all young adults successfully navigate from dependence to independence. For NPR News, I'm Patty Wight.

(SOUNDBITE OF 3ND'S "WALTZ FOR LILLY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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