How to become a real adult

By Stephanie Youssef

I wouldn’t say that I am a real adult. Despite the fact that I am over 18 years old, I live in my own apartment and I work to make money, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I am ready to take on the real world alone.

As much as I would like to pride myself on being independent, there are still things, such as insurance and tax forms, that I rely on my parents for help with.

Because of that, I think I am more a pretend adult than a real one, and there are many students on campus who are probably the same. But the fact that we are living away from our parents and are studying to prepare for our careers means we should also be more active in learning the more specific details of being independent.

Merely turning 18 and living in an apartment on campus does not mean that we are truly independent and, in my opinion, does not define what being a real adult is.

For example, I, as a pretend adult, have my car on campus this year, but I don’t yet know everything I should about its maintenance. Now I’ll admit that my car may not be the most dependable vehicle, and I’d be lying if I said I would be surprised if it just stopped working tomorrow. But this was never a big concern for me when I was using it to drive around my hometown.

If it were to break down ten minutes away from my house, I could just quickly call my dad, and he would come help me, while also explaining car insurance stuff. As a result, everything would be figured out (also, my use of the ambiguous word “stuff” should tell you just how much I know about car insurance).

Coming to campus and living in an apartment where my parents aren’t a quick drive away to come save me when I am in real trouble means I should take more initiative and responsibility in learning how to become a real-life adult.

This responsibility is more than just cooking my own meals and keeping up with my studies. To exercise true independence, we, as students, should start to familiarize ourselves with the more complicated issues associated with being adults — paying taxes, knowing how to handle our cars, the inner workings of health insurance (what in the world is a co-pay anyway?).

It is important to start learning about these intricacies now because waiting to familiarize ourselves with them through experience can result in error in real-life situations. If I were to have car troubles, knowing nothing about insurance, I could make a mistake by improvising and learning as I go. That’s why I’m making a conscious effort to educate myself now. Being prepared ensures that the processes to deal with these issues, which almost certainly will arise in adulthood, can be dealt with faster with less mistakes and less anxiety.

Even with many students being on their parents’ health insurance until age 25, there’s always the chance of getting sick on campus. Knowing how to deal with hospitals and insurance is a more responsible way to deal with sudden health problems that can be out of our control.

Learning about these responsibilities differs from learning how to deal with an apartment on campus because realty companies in Urbana-Champaign are accustomed to leasing to college students — they already provide us convenient links to make setting up water, electricity and internet easier. They also clearly outline who we should call if problems arise.

Most insurance companies are not designed with exclusive accessibility for college students. It would be convenient if there were a book called “How to be an Adult for Dummies,” but the solution to this problem can be as simple as sitting down with your parents and letting them explain some of these issues to you.

That way, when a situation arises, we can be real adults instead of just pretending.

Stephanie is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @syoussef22.