College is a time where young adults go off into the “real world” and begin to become adults. There are many skills that we assume these young adults have, but they may not know how to apply them in their own environment. These skills may seem obvious to us, but in order to set our students up for success, we need to make sure they are prepared.
Basic Cleaning & Tidying Skills
Living independently means they can no longer rely on others to help keep things tidy. It’s a good habit to learn to pick up after themselves. Your student should pick up clothes, throw away trash and bring dishes to the appropriate location after use. Knowing how to make their bed and vacuum are important as well. If they are living in apartment-style dorms or off-campus properties, there will be even more they need to think about.
Simple Cooking Skills
Knowing how to use a stove and oven are important for apartment-style living. However, if your student is in a regular dorm room, they will have limitations on what they can use to cook. Recipes can be found for the microwave or even instant pot for quick and easy dorm room meal preparation.
Whether your student will be living in the dorms or an apartment, they are going to need to learn how to do their own laundry. These days, laundry is easier to do with detergent pods. You want to make sure your student knows how much laundry is too much to put into the machine, how to use detergent pods and dryer sheets, and what type of wash cycle their various types of clothes need to go on. They should also know if they own any clothes that cannot be washed or put into the dryer. Additionally, they should know how to iron if they have any clothes that need to be ironed.
Problem Solving Skills
With all these new experiences, your student should be able to determine what issues they are running into and how to research those issues. They don’t need to know how to solve every problem they run into, but they will need to know how to find the appropriate and reliable answer to their problems. Making sure they can do this will save you from getting a call in the middle of the night asking how to unclog a toilet or if they can microwave Styrofoam.
Appointment-Making / Scheduling Skills
This is a two-part skill set. First, your student should be able to make their own appointments without your guidance. Second, they should be able to keep track of their own schedule. They should be able to look at their schedule and determine when to make appointments with doctors, maintenance for their vehicle, interviews, etc. They should then be able to follow a schedule and be in the habit of showing up to things on time.
Making and following a schedule can be daunting if you don’t prioritize properly. Your student should be able to determine whether or not they have the free time for activities. Starting college, there are always a bunch of activities that are aimed at getting students to work together. It is important that your student is able to go to some of these activities and mingle, but they should also be able to determine when they need to buckle down and study or when they need some downtime.
Locking Up / Safety Skills
Your student should be in the habit of locking the door behind them, always taking their key with them and making sure their residence is secured and safe. This includes turning off electronics, checking to make sure stoves, irons, curling irons/straighteners, and space heaters are all turned off before leaving their residence.
Once your student leaves their residence, they need to be able to navigate without the use of a map. In the instance of a dead phone battery or bad reception, your student should be able to get themselves to class or work. They should also know how to use public transportation in their area such as the bus, subway, train or light rail. With using these public transportation systems comes the necessity of knowing which way is North, South, East & West.
Your student is going to need to know how to budget with their expenses. Whether they are given an allowance, financial aid refund or work part time, they will need to know how to manage those expenses. Things such as sticking to a meal plan on campus, budget shopping for cooking at home, coupon shopping and self-control with online shopping are important to your students budgeting success. They should know how to track what they are spending and keep it within reason of their budget they set aside.
Last, but certainly not least is self-advocacy. If your student struggles with any of these or other issues, they need to know how to self-advocate and reach out for the assistance they need. If they are struggling in a class, they need to know how to reach out to the professor. If they are having difficulty with budgeting, they need to know they can reach out to someone. If they have any problems with the skills mentioned earlier, they should know how to reach out for help. College is a time for new and even scary experiences. Make sure your student is prepared for as much as possible.