Black caps and gowns in the sweltering heat. Balloons and a flower bouquet passing through dozens of hands for the obligatory senior portraits. A plethora of adults remarking dismally, “They’re all leaving the nest now.”
That image — the one of gracefully soaring out from the confines of our parents’ jurisdiction into the open air of our own independence — is hardly the universal experience. Often, we don’t so much leave the nest so much as we crash.
Although dorm life gives students a significant safety net, the transition to independent living is rarely smooth. Learning how to run your own household can be a trial-and-error process. For this reason, a home economics signature course should be added to the course schedule as a resource for first-year students.
Neuroscience sophomore Raegan Whittaker has had to face quite a few unfamiliar problems while living in West Campus.
“Our sink disposal broke … and we didn’t know that the disposal and the dishwasher were connected, so we ran our dishwasher and it completely flooded,” Whittaker said. “I would’ve loved to fix the problem myself, but I didn’t know how. So we just had to wait (for maintenance).”
Broken appliances are a mainstay of apartment living for any college student, but many people like Whittaker were never taught how to fix things like washer and dryer units, garbage disposals and dishwashers when they break down. Whittaker had to wait an entire weekend for maintenance to help her with the apartment mishap. Had she had the option to take a home economics course, she would have had access to classmates and a professor for guidance. Better yet, she could’ve avoided the situation
altogether with her own know-how.
Historically, home economics classes have had a sexist connotation, as they were used to teach young women how to be good homemakers. However, the present-day home economics curriculum could be adapted to help all students gain valuable life skills such as preparing food, creating a household budget and fixing household appliances.
At UT, the School of Human Ecology offers programs in Nutrition as well as Human Development and Family Sciences, but according to Dr. Jeanette Herman, the assistant dean for academic initiatives, UT has not offered a home economics course or program since before the 1990s. This needs to change.
“To offer a course, a department would need to have an approved course number in the course inventory, and they would simply schedule the course and make it open to students,” Herman said via email. This relatively simple process would result in a class that has the potential to positively impact the large population of UT students who live off campus.
By offering an undergraduate studies signature course dedicated to teaching students basic home economic skills, the University could mitigate a trial-and-error process college students have dealt with for far too long.
Dasgupta is a neuroscience freshman from Plano.