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The Gaps

Posted: January 20, 2021

By Paula Hernandez Garaycoa, College Student

We all have gaps in our knowledge. A painter who isn’t skilled in math; a mathematician who stumbles over geography; a person so gifted you wonder if they know everything, only to discover they don’t know how to boil water. The reassuring thing about gaps is that many of them can be filled. This perspective on knowledge is empowering. Filling the gaps is an attainable goal with the right resources.

During my time in school, I was never taught life skills like how to balance a budget or how to open a savings account. When I asked how to file taxes after working my first job, the answer I got was startlingly uninformative and privileged, “Make money and pay someone else to do it.” I was encouraged to explore a variety of subjects within the sciences, history, and math, but no one taught me how to budget my money. After graduation, I took out student loans (without having been taught the significance of this decision) and moved to the most expensive city in the United States. My gap was extensive, and it had consequences that will affect me well after I finish university.

My lack of personal finance education had monetary repercussions that will not be quickly undone. We wouldn’t ask students to take a calculus exam without first teaching them calculus. Why is it, then, that we would send students into adulthood without a proper and thorough education in the skills that are critical for long-term success and happiness? I have never used the advanced chemistry and calculus that I was taught in high school, but I do have to budget my money every month, and I do have to pay back my student loans. Life skills are critical for everyone to learn, and the earlier they are taught, the fewer long-lasting mistakes young people will make. We need to invest in a better future for our youth by filling the gaps that they have, so generations to come will not be burdened by preventable mistakes.

Overcoming Obstacles offers hundreds of K-12 life skills lessons designed to prepare young people for all of the challenges life presents. It’s free now and forever and is available for download by registering for an account at