Essential Skills Parents Should Teach Their College-Bound Kids

When students go off to college, near or far, they venture into a whole new world of challenges and questions. Most are fortunate to have cell phones with Skype or FaceTime that will bridge the gap between panic and the calm instructions and guidance from mom, dad, or a trusted adult.

This is a list of activities and experiences one may want to review before the kiddo flies from the nest. But that may be daunting. Sometimes they will have to learn by trial and error. Most of the items listed apply to all students; some will not be experienced until they live off campus on their own. The list is broken into six sections so it can be tackled in smaller bites.

Financial Matters:

  1. Write a check
  2. Cash a check
  3. Know your debit card balance
  4. Know how to transfer funds (via phone app is even better!)
  5. Pay a bill (check or online)
  6. Advise debit/credit card companies of card use when travelling
  7. Withdraw cash from an ATM
  8. Pay rent & utilities (split with roommates)
  9. Use campus “points” with meal plans
  10. Calculate a tip
  11. Pay for dinner
  12. Cancel a membership
  13. Figure out the cost of postage and shipping

Travel Matters:

  1. Make travel arrangements – air, bus, train
  2. Navigate an airport, train or bus station
  3. Deal with a cancelled flight
  4. Take a taxi
  5. Pack a suitcase
  6. Follow TSA rules
  7. Catch the local train/subway
  8. Check tire pressure
  9. Change a tire
  10. Check the oil

Wellness Matters:

  1. Make an appointment (hair, dentist, doctor)
  2. Self-prescribe over-the-counter meds
  3. Know basic first aid
  4. Locate the campus health center
  5. Know when to call a doctor or go to a doc-in-the-box
  6. Carry a medical insurance card and know when to use it

Meals and Laundry Matters:

  1. DSC_1771Cook a meal
  2. Go food shopping
  3. Load a dishwasher
  4. Put out a kitchen fire
  5. Buy clothes
  6. Return a purchase
  7. Do the laundry
  8. Remove a stain
  9. Iron a shirt
  10. Sew a button
  11. Importance of good nutrition and vitamins
  12. How to store leftovers
  13. When to toss old food

Household Matters:

  1. Hook up cable
  2. Change a name on utility bills
  3. Unclog a toilet/sink
  4. Check the smoke alarm/CO2 alarm
  5. Renew car license plates & insurance
  6. How to vote absentee

And last, but not least, most important matters:

  1. Negotiate a deal
  2. Write (not email) a thank you note
  3. Enjoy a drink responsibly
  4. Say “no” with confidence

When hurting and in doubt, call home

I’m sure there are many more you could add to the list. Perhaps many of these items have already been mastered before high school graduation. The notion that we send our kids into the next exciting chapter of their life fully equipped is not realistic. So maybe the list will help get us that much closer.

There are some life lessons that we cannot predict nor protect them from: broken hearts, failing a test, making friends, losing friends, or saying they are sorry. Those life lessons will come from the rest of their encounters outside the nest.

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