10 Things Kids Should Know Before College
Your family has survived the testing, the essays, the applications, and the waiting game. Now, it’s time to teach your college-bound child some important skills before she heads out of the house and explores the world on her own. Here are some basic things I’ll be working on with my own college-bound teens, and now is the perfect time to do it!
1. How to wash clothes. Wash light and dark clothes separately. Put a set of clothing in the washer, add detergent based on product recommendations, and wash everything on warm just to be safe. Never put “dry clean only” clothing in a regular washing machine. Once clothes are washed, put them in the dryer on a medium temperature for about 40 minutes or as long as a specific setting runs, according to your washer. Also, teach the proper way to separate clothing.
2. How to cook a decent meal to save time and money. Start with basics like how to scramble eggs, boil pasta and bake pizza in the oven. Work your way up to assembling casseroles and putting together slow cooker meals.
3. How to change a tire (and other car maintenance). Always have a spare tire in the vehicle you drive, as well as a jack, flashlight, rain poncho and gloves. Parents, you should teach this one a few times until he gets the hang of it. Also, if there is a AAA plan in place, they can come out and help or supervise.
4. How to budget money. Track your income and spending in a small notebook or Excel spreadsheet so you can be realistic about how much you’re spending. If you know something is coming up that you’ll need money for, make a note about it and save in other ways, or figure out income-earning opportunities.
5. How to manage money and the difference between a credit card and a debit card. A debit card needs a PIN because money comes from a bank account right away. A credit card needs a signature because you’re agreeing to pay interest and anything you owe at a later date. Kids, make sure you know how to balance your checkbook. You don’t want to get that debit card declined…it’s always so embarrassing!
6. What an advanced care directive is and why you should have one. Once you turn 18, the law states that you can make your own medical decisions. Since you’re away from home, you need to think about what you would want done in the event of a life-threatening accident. A living will gives specific instructions, while a durable power of attorney is when you assign someone to make decisions for you. It’s a heavy, but necessary, discussion to have with your family.
7. How to manage time. You might just have a part-time job along with classes, homework and social time. Just like with money, getting real makes a huge difference. Google Calendar is a great on-the-go option and different activities can be color-coded, so you can see where you might have a free block of time…or where you may be double-booking yourself. Don’t forget to plan sleep time in there, or you’ll burn out fast.
8. How to refill a prescription (ADD meds, antibiotics, etc.). Make sure you have insurance information at the ready so it can be logged in the database, and find a drugstore that will take your insurance. The first time you do this, you will likely need to contact your doctor so he/she can contact the pharmacy, but after that, refills should be smooth sailing.
9. How to deal with people. There truly is an art to bringing up grievances and respectfully disagreeing with people such as authority figures and roommates. You don’t have to be a doormat when arguing your case with a professor, doctor, or boss, but you also don’t have to always go for the win.
10. How to use public transportation. You’re not the only college kid to arrive without a car, especially if it’s your first year. Check online or grab a paper route and schedule. If you’re still confused, ask someone at the station how to get where you need to go, then buy your ticket using your student discount.
Now that you have some important basics down, relax and enjoy your college experience, knowing you are prepared for whatever life throws your way. ■