University Prep, Not Life Prep

Students wonder if they’re prepared for the future


Photo: Ilham Mohamed

Senior Hebaq Farah crouches in front of her car with a toolbox in front of her and a textbook in hand. Unable to fix her car, Hebaq Farah worries that the things she learned in school are of no help to her in this situation.

Without the opportunity to take classes like Workshop, Home Economics and Cooking, some University Prep students feel unprepared for life beyond high school. But with the arrival of the new Assistant Head of School for Academics Ed Billingslea, doors to new intellectual opportunities might open.

Senior Hebaq Farah believes that although UPrep emphasizes the importance of being able to excel in disciplines outside of academics, the school falls short when it comes to acting on it.

“I think that they definitely focus on making their students aware of the things that they should know beyond the required classes,” Farah said. “But we aren’t given the opportunities needed to learn these necessary skills like we don’t have an Auto Shop class and I would love to know how to jump a car or change a car headlight.”

Senior Daniella Meza echoes Farah’s concern but also recognizes that students sometimes don’t take advantage of the courses available that can and do prepare them for real-life situations. 

“There isn’t as many courses as I think should be offered for students to learn more about things like how to do your taxes, or how to find out about internships and jobs,” Meza said.“But I also think that a lot of students don’t take advantage of the resources provided to them by the school like classes like Mathematical Finance.”

Ed Billingslea, Assistant Head of School for Academics, is new to UPrep this year. The idea of installing classes surrounding the development of life skills is not unfamiliar to him.

 “At my previous school I had a similar conversation with some of my seniors at the time where they were asking about how a

nd when they could start learning about life skills,” Billingslea said. “I helped create what we called a clear lab, that was geared towards a lifestyle curriculum. And so for one, I think it’s brilliant. And I think it’s necessary.”

Through creating the clear lab, Billingslea’s last school created a space for students who wanted to gain life skills to come together and do so. Billingslea believes that one thing that makes incorporating these classes into UPrep’s class catalog difficult is the lack of space. 

“One of the questions I would want a student to consider before proposing these types of classes is, where would this class be taken?” Billingslea said. “Although I find these classes to be very important in the

development of students, I think that UPrep’s space constraint does pose a challenge.”

For pumas like Farah, although there is a demand for classes shaped towards preparing students for life outside school, there are also questions on how they can request for them to be implemented into the school curriculum.

“I know it isn’t an unpopular opinion amongst students that there should be more classes surrounding things like cooking so I don’t think it would be difficult to request them. I think it’s just that we don’t know how to,” Farah said.

According to Billingslea, the most direct way to request or propose for classes like Home Economics or Auto shop is to communicate with him.

“Being new here, it is understandable that people might not know my role here, but if they want a class to be considered, it really is just as easy as shooting me an email,” Billingslea said.