UC Berkeley course in ‘adulting’ so popular, it’s turning students away

UC Berkeley is offering a class in "adulting," basic life skills young people may have missed until college provided a wake up call. 

The class is so popular it's turning students away. 

"I want to feel prepared, like I know what i'm doing and I know how to be an adult," said Allegra Estrada, 21, who is a pre-med junior at Cal. 

"You can know as much as you want about physics or biology or English but that doesn't help you when you need to do taxes or figure out what to eat." 

Monday night, a new eight week session in "adulting" began. 

"We're going to have guest speakers," said instructor Belle Lau, laying out the topics: managing time and money, and improving relationships 

"That can be a relationship with yourself or others, like family, friends," said Lau.

Other areas include fitness, nutrition and mental health.  

"Self-care, self-love and sleep," Lau continued. 

Many students admit they struggle making the transition to self-reliance in college.  

"It's harder to budget when you're not living at home because you have a lot more expenses," said Lauren Frailey, 19, an economics major. 

"I'm excited to learn how to manage my time better and that will definitely help me manage my stress as well."  

The class was launched by Lau and a fellow biology major Jenny Zhou. 

Now juniors, when they arrived at U.C. Berkeley from out-of-state, they felt lost without family nearby to rely on.

"We can only call them on the phone if we need help, but that only goes so far," said Lau.  

They noticed many other students also felt inept tackling simple responsibilities, and complaining that adulting is hard. 

Last year, the class kicked off with 30 students; this spring, it has 80. 

And 200 applicants were turned away. 

Those who were accepted had to make a compelling plea: 

"Things like, 'I need help budgeting my money, I spend too much money on food, please help!'", said Lau.

How did her generation miss so much basic stuff ?

Most likely, a combination of factors: high schools stopped teaching practical skills, parents may have coddled their teens by helping too much, and technology offered a shortcut, easier to Google it, than learn it. 

Plus the competitiveness of college can create teens with tunnel vision.  

"People are so focused on getting a good GPA, and needing to fill their resume with all these internships, jobs, and clubs that we forget how to take care of ourselves," said Zau.  

However it happened, the students are glad to be filling the gaps. 

"I don't know when to start working on my taxes and what to keep track of, " said math major Spencer Hill, who graduates in June. 

"Plus I don't have too much experience cooking and planning out shopping and all that."

The class itself is "pass- no pass", so doesn't affect grades or add to a student's stress. 

Allegra Castrada jokes that by the end of the session, even "snail mail" won't be such a mystery. 

"I had to ask my sister, like what do you put on the letter, how do you do it," Castrada laughed, "and oh yeah, a stamp!"