La Jolla High grads launch website to help college freshmen with Life 101

By Jenna Jay

“Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills.” Napoleon Dynamite said it in the 2004 film, and La Jolla High School graduates Taylor Bourgeois and Grace Drozda agree. Bourgeois and Drozda, high school friends and current college sophomores, are the co-creators of an online program that grants access to all kinds of know-how. Calling it Dynamite Skills, after the infamous quote, the program features more than 100 life skills packaged as a prep course tailored to young adults — and especially college freshmen.

Dynamite Skills features tips and pointers in some areas that Bourgeois, a business major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Drozda, a pre-psychology major at U.C. Santa Barbara, wish they would have known before heading off to college last year.

“It just started from realizing how much we didn’t know,” Drozda said. “My parents were like, ‘You’re calling us all the time, you don’t know how to do anything.’ We were like ‘yeah, we’re clueless.’ Everyone was in the same boat going off to college.”

After discussing the distresses of learning things the hard way, while attempting to live on their own for the first time, Bourgeois and Drozda spent the last year creating the web-based crash course in life skills.

Simple lessons like how to separate laundry and how to clean up vomit, obstacles most college students will face at some point in dorm life, are part of the learning curve on Dynamite Skills. The program also features lessons on other hot topics, like how to change a tire or balance a checkbook.

Since Dynamite Skills was created by young adults for young adults that peer-to-peer feature adds an element of trust for users.

“Most of the things [in the program] come from experience,” Bourgeois said. “I’ve been through a bunch of it. Other topics I heard about from friends or parents. It’s all valid information.”

Lessons presented on Dynamite Skills are constantly updated thanks to user-feedback and suggestions. Dynamite Skills includes sections on money, insurance, important documents, getting a job, working in the kitchen, cars, safety, planning and scheduling, handling stuff around the house, travel planning, and more.

The program also includes diagrams and photographs to make the learning process an interesting experience as much as an informative one.

“We want to make it fun so you’re learning while you’re having a little bit of fun,” Bourgeois said.

For a one-time $45 fee, Dynamite Skills users can access unlimited topics for as long as they wish. The program is open to anyone, though targeted to accompany the college-aged crowd through a tough transitional period.

Bourgeois and Drozda worked with counselors, high school and college advisors to develop and promote Dynamite Skills. The duo has also come up with a fundraising plan for high school organizations and clubs to sponsor the program for students. Their hope is to eventually bring Dynamite Skills into high schools and colleges across the country.

“Every kid needs it,” Bourgeois said. “The first week of college was stressful, and I was still so ahead of everyone else. It’s just crazy. I really think every kid needs to look into Dynamite Skills and see it because it has practical tips on the topics that really get you through your life on your own.”

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