Adulting club can promise a future of meat loaf and correct tax forms

Adulting 101 Club President Paige Onder (right) and club vice president Sydnie Kohana Ryan talk with junior Ryan Kane during the Club and Community Fair at Prescott Field.

Photos by Ralph Freso

Ryan Kane stepped up to the table that balanced a small hand-written sign, “Adulting 101,” as if he was ordering a burger.

“I need,” he says, “to learn how to be an adult.”

Paige Onder and Sydnie Kohana Ryan laughed and told him he came to the right place. The president and vice president’s new Adulting 101 student club started in the fall semester – one of 11 new clubs of nearly 100 available to Grand Canyon University students, who perused their offerings at the Spring Club and Community Fair on Prescott Field Monday night.

“When you enter adulthood, there are a lot of overwhelming things schools don’t teach you – like filing taxes or meal prep,” said Kane, a junior transfer mechanical engineering student who recently arrived at the Phoenix campus from California. “I never learned how to cook beyond making eggs.

“So I’d like to learn the little things so I can focus on the big things.”

Adulting 101 Club President Paige Onder (center) and club vice president Sydnie Kohana Ryan talk with a student about their meeting times at the Club and Community Fair.

Onder attributes the term adulting to millennials like her older sister, who got to adult age and didn’t feel adult, especially in the performance of everyday, mundane tasks.

“If you went back generations, when you turned 18, you were an adult. There was no time to complain about doing dishes. You just did them,” Onder said.

Gen Z has reluctantly assumed the term because it fits, she says, and it’s not totally borne of a failure-to-launch mentality. Often, it’s the need to want to learn more about the things parents and schools don’t quite cover.

Like personal finances.

“A baby adult is what I call myself,” Onder said. “I want to learn how to run my own business and one day help other people do it.”

For now, she helps others with taxes and listens to the two dozen who show up for biweekly meetings. Their top question fit right in:

“The big one was, 'How do I do my own taxes if I live in two different states?',” she said.

As freshmen, both Onder and Ryan address other issues to help the target audience of mainly underclassmen, leading back to Kane’s egg cooking.

“Meal prep – I didn’t think about it much living at home,” Ryan said. “Then one of the first meetings was how to cook in a dorm with limited supplies. That was helpful.”

She learned a recipe for chicken pasta that’s become a staple. She saw a class about cooking meals in a coffee pot, even a meat loaf, and learned other tips.

“Professor (Catherine) Hallam was telling us that if you don’t have eggs, because eggs can go bad, you can substitute with applesauce, which is good to know as a college student,” Ryan said.

Hallam, a behavioral health instructor, was an inspiration for the club and says it “resonates with students because of their eagerness to grasp life beyond college,” using life skills that vary from understanding mortgages and strategies for paying off student loans, to dinner preparation and job acquisition strategies.

As a student from Hawaii, Ryan said it was overwhelming to come in as a freshman and live on your own. So having an open space to ask any question and learn how to be a self-sufficient adult was helpful.

The club has expert guest speakers, such as the banking official who talked about building a good credit score, and this semester will add more hands-on activities to the lectures and Q & As. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Monday in Cathedral, classroom 101, and the subject is time management.

“I just got my first credit card,” said freshman Devin Flanagan, who plans to attend future meetings. “That’s important to know the ins and outs of.”

Others left sticky notes with questions they want answered, and parents might be surprised to read this one:

How often should you clean each area of your home?”

Students circled numerous tables to talk with club representatives.

Other new clubs

All kinds of new clubs fit into several categories that students can explore, from the social King’s Court Chess Club, Fashion Club and Boys to Men, which explores male bonding and masculinity in our culture, to the cultural Filipinx-American Student Organization and performance-based Creative Herd or the pre-professional, fast-growing hit, the Artificial Intelligence Club.

“We try to gear the fair to new freshmen coming in spring semester because they don’t know how to get plugged in too well yet,” said Abigail Castillo, Clubs and Organizations manager. “One that has grown a lot is the Garden Club.”

That club was giving out little seeds and starter kits to grow lavender, wildflowers and other plants, and its officers said they hope to add additional growing space beyond the Campus Garden outside Agave in the future.

“And one of the biggest clubs right now is American Kids, a swing dance club,” Castillo said. “They had a lot of students coming to that this fall in the Riverbed.”

To see a list of student clubs, go to Instagram @gcuclubs.

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected].

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