Six Things I Wish I’d Studied in High School

I was a complete waste of space in high school. Lots of drinking, bad grades, worse attitude. It didn’t help that so little of what was being taught could be practically applied in the real world. I took 8 friggin years of French, but didn’t spend a single hour learning about money or investing–putain, so backwards!

If you are young, consider learning about these topics on your own now, because they will all help you in your future. Here is what I hope the curriculum includes when my son gets to high school: 

  • Computer Programming – Programming makes me feel like I am a shell of a human being–its totally outside my philosophy-major-comfort-zone.  Programming often tests my will to live. But, it is probably my most useful skill. The ability to gather and manipulate data/information is empowering. It let’s you answer interesting questions.  I hope my son learns to code as soon as he can type.
  • History – Here’s one that we get somewhat right, but the emphasis should be shifted to the lessons of history, rather than rote memorization of dates and events. That the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066 is forever burned into my brain. I wish I’d instead studied what mistakes humankind has made over and over again and why? I read textbooks filled with timelines, I wish I’d read Will & Ariel Durant and Oswald Spengler.
  • Philosophy – Most people hate it, but learning how to think critically would have been a nice boost in high school. A basic course on logic would help with programming, too.
  • Statistics – Geometry bored me to tears, and I’ve never used it since. I use statistics every day, but never took a formal course on the subject. It should be a core math class.
  • Investing & Personal Finance – It is a shame that most schools don’t teach kids a thing about money. I left high school knowing nothing about stocks, bonds, compound returns, retirement plans, mortgages, or taxes–all topics that become very important right away in real life. How do we not study this stuff in high school?
  • Self-Lead Reading – I hated most assigned books in high school in large part because they were just that: assigned. I’ve since re-read many of those books and loved them (Brave New World comes to mind). It would be great if schools could encourage students to pursue some interest on their own terms instead of prescribing everything. 

I would have been light years ahead if I’d left high school knowing what a T-stat is, how to use Microsoft SQL, why you have to think for yourself to get anywhere, and why 20% of every dollar earned should be plowed into the market. What skills do you wish you’d learned earlier in life? 

P.S. my upcoming book is meant to fill in some of the gap for young people on the topics of money and investing. Check out the pre-order offer here, which includes a full investor curriculum for budding (and seasoned) investors.