Transitioning to college life is a big change for most high schoolers. Not only are students managing the demands of academics, many are likely experiencing freedom for the first time. While this can be invigorating, it can also be overwhelming. Luckily, there are skills your child can learn at home that can help them adjust to their new environment and responsibilities. After all, the less time they have to spend figuring out how laundry works, the more time students can spend studying, making new friends, and enjoying the full university experience.
With that in mind, our team has compiled a handy checklist, which you can download and print here, of basic life skills every high school student should master before heading off to college.
Living With Others. It’s no secret that most college students will live with a roommate, at least for the first few years. Knowing how to share a space peacefully and respectfully will help avoid environmental conflicts.
- Keep your room tidy and clutter to a minimum.
- Throw away food containers and take care of dishes immediately after eating.
- Respect privacy and requests for quiet.
- Learn how to do your own laundry: sorting, fabric requirements, detergent basics, and how to use washing machines and dryers.
- Learn how to iron or steam clothing (an essential for that first big internship interview or presentation).
- Master folding and organization techniques to make the most of limited storage space.
Managing Money. From after-school and summer jobs to paid internships, college is a great time to practice the important skill of managing money. Getting a handle on things like credit card debt, savings, and responsible spending early will save students big headaches down the road.
- Open a savings account. If you’re working a part-time job, set up recurring deposits to help you save.
- Create a basic budget with an app like Mint or Pennies to help you get used to managing incoming and outgoing funds.
- Practice sticking to your budget one month at a time and then take time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. Make adjustments for the next month and try again.
- Consider opening a student credit card. These cards usually have low credit limits but don’t impose annual fees, so it’s a great way for teens to begin the process of building credit and managing debt.
- If you have a bill or two under your name, you should be able to track payment due dates and make monthly payments on time.
- Learn more about your credit score: what it is, why it’s important, and how to build it up.
Staying Healthy. Healthy adult living starts in the dorm room. Knowing the basics about making satisfying and nutritious meals (not to mention how to boil water) will give young people an advantage in college and beyond.
- Learn how to make a couple simple, healthy meals using hot plates, microwaves, and toaster ovens.
- Have experience creating a weekly menu (or at least for a few days) as well as shopping for ingredients.
- Practice balancing indulgences and healthy choices.
- Set a daily water intake goal.
- Work exercise into your weekly routine.
Navigating Adulthood. These skills may seem unrelated or even obvious, but they’re each important elements of what makes teens into responsible adults. Before leaving for college, teens should know how to:
- Lock up and shut down before leaving home
- Mail a letter or package
- Make appointments
- Keep appointments and manage a schedule
- Use public transportation
- Navigate new areas (without the aid of phones)
- Employ basic first aid
- Determine priorities
- Ask for help
This is certainly not an all inclusive list when it comes to prepping for college, but we hope this will get your high schooler off on the right foot. If you need help creating a more personalized approach, don’t hesitate to reach out.