I must be getting old, because I’ve been thinking about what sorts of classes should be mandatory for high schoolers to pass before they can graduate. Lots of people have opinions on this sort of thing, and my suggestions probably aren’t the best, but here are four classes I think every high schooler ought to complete.

Personal Finance
Debt remains one of the great scourges of my generation, the Millenials, and I think part of the problem, in addition to things like skyrocketing college tuitions, is that many of us never got instruction on managing money wisely. I was fortunate to grow up in a household that taught me how to handle money well, but not everyone is that lucky. A class that taught high schoolers about income, bank accounts, credit cards, debt, savings, and other topics related to personal finance would help a lot of teens better prepare for transitioning to adulthood and avoiding financial pitfalls.

World Geography
It’s no secret that Americans are notoriously ignorant of world geography. How many of us could find Afghanistan on a map back when America first started attacking the Taliban? I don’t expect everyone to find every single country, but it would be an improvement if we could at least find the ones that are commonly making headlines, if nothing else to give us a perspective on world affairs. While we’re at it, maybe the world geography class should also require students to learn three to five bullet points of basic information on various countries.

Logic, Rationality, and Critical Thinking
If there is one criticism of my generation that I believe is spot on, it is that we have overemphasized feelings to the detriment of critical thinking. A class on basic logic and rationality would help us better reason through the various issues that come before us, and be less easily bought by appeals to emotion. I’m not saying feelings are bad, but we need to use both our brains and our hearts.

Health and Nutrition
America appears to be slowly beginning to taper off its bad eating and health habits, but we still have a long way to go. What a person eats and does is their choice, but it never hurts to be better informed on what our bodies need to be at their best and how to live healthier lifestyles. Then maybe we can stop being the most obese country in the world and reduce the amount of money spent each year on healthcare to counteract suboptimal dietary and fitness decisions.

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