How to be an adult: UC Berkeley undergrads teach new class

Growing up, did someone teach you how to function in the world on your own by balancing a budget, saving for a house, separating whites and colors when you do the laundry? It turns out that a lot of college students have not learned these things. So two undergraduates at UC Berkeley, Belle Lau and Jenny Zhou, started an adulting class, officially known as Psychology 198. 

The class is in its infancy, and is already a smash hit on campus. This semester, Lau and Zhou received more than 200 applications for 60 spots. 

When considering applications, Lau and Zhou saw a few commonalities, including prospective students blaming their parents for not teaching them the necessary life skills. In Lau’s eyes, her course is a way to answer their calls for help. 

What is “adulting?”  

“It’s all about being independent and self reliant,” says Lau. “As college students, we are pushed into this world … we rely on things like Google, or even our parents. But it’s more important to turn to ourselves instead.” 

Students learn how to build goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. They also focus on other issues like developing healthy interpersonal relationships, maintaining fitness, and eating right.  

But Lau notes that neither she nor Zhou are professors. That’s why they have reached out to outside resources who can serve as guest speakers. These lecturers have included mental health professionals from University Health Services, former economic professors, and even Lau’s mom, who works as an accountant. 

Lau emphasizes that it isn’t a bad thing to rely on outside resources for help. But it is also important to be self-reliant. 

“If you keep asking your parents, you’re never going to want to learn yourself because you would know there’s going to be somebody to help you out,” Lau says.