There are many things in life that aren’t taught in school and that students should know before heading off to college. As parents, we often wonder if our kids are ready; if we showed them the basics. The following is a list of some skills, not in any particular order, that can help them make their way through the world.

By Wendi Ostroff

  • Basic home skills: Know how to do laundry, sort colors (even if that doesn’t happen) where the soap goes, how to fold clothes, what doesn’t go into a microwave (i.e., aluminum foil), and how to properly make a bed and clean your room.
  • Have some financial sense: Make a personal budget, open a bank account (if you don’t have one already), fill out a check, understand the value of the dollar (or $20), as well as how to save money, use an ATM and how to tip in restaurants.
  • Health-care: Know the basics to identify a cold or mild illness, how to choose over the counter medicine, how to fill a prescription and what to eat for an upset stomach (BRAT-bananas, rice, apples, toast diet) and make a doctor’s appointment.
  • Know how to protect your digital presence: Be smart with what to post and not to post. Be aware of not giving away personal information online or meeting strangers in chat rooms.
  • Know how to ride a city bus, how to read a map/GPS, and pump gas.
  • Register to vote and then vote! At 18 years old, this is a right for all US citizens and a good way to stay engaged in the community.
  • Safety: Know how to defend yourself, be aware of surroundings, and how to ask for help when needed.
  • Self-care: Be aware when things start to get stressful and try to reduce stress in your life: exercise routines, take a walk, breathe, minimize procrastination, eat well, proper hygiene, and get enough sleep. Mental wellness is important. Know how to take care of yourself emotionally as well as physically.
  • Simple kitchen skills: Know how to cook an egg, pasta, quesadilla, grilled cheese, rice. Along with this, know how to plan, shop for and prepare a meal for 2 people (or more).
  • Social skills: Understand consent, the meaning of saying you’re sorry, and how to be kind to others.
  • Time management: Understand the importance of being punctual for appointments, class, responding to emails or other messages in a timely manner, and how to schedule the amount of time you need to prepare for exams.
  • Understand basic nutrition: Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables daily will nourish your body, not Doritos for breakfast. Know how to read a food label.
  • Writing know-how: Be sure you can address & stamp an envelope, write a handwritten thank you note, and fill out a job application.

If your child has already left for college, is taking a gap year or other, some of these skills can be learned at any time. Use this list as a reminder of what will be helpful for them as they become successful, young adults.