Sending your high school grad off to college is an emotional experience (start stocking up on tissues now), but it’ll feel a whole lot easier if you know that they’re armed with these basic life skills. Here, seven practical things that teens should know how to do (including how to subsist on a diet beyond pizza and instant noodles).
7 Things Teens Should Know How to Do Before College
A load of laundry
You’d be surprised by how many teens don’t know how to do this (and we’ll admit that we definitely mixed our colors with our whites freshman year). Even if your kids do their laundry at home, they probably only know the one setting that you’ve programmed in for them. Take some time to go over the basics, including how to use an unfamiliar machine. (Extra points if you teach them how to iron and which items require a trip to the dry cleaner.)
Cook some basic recipes
They don’t need to be the next Ina Garten, but they also can’t survive on takeout for four years. Knowing how to cook a few tasty recipes from scratch will benefit your child’s health, wallet and maybe even social life (hey, everyone loves a home-cooked meal). Start simple—salads, sandwiches, pastas and soups are all nutritious, delicious and easy to make.
Take public transportation
Being in a new place can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know how to read a subway map or navigate town. Practice using public transportation with your teen and make sure he's comfortable asking for directions. It’s also useful to know how to get a taxi (including how much to tip).
Stick to a budget
Chances are that once your kid goes to college, the credit card offers are going to start pouring in. Teach your teen how to manage debt and pay bills on time (plus the potentially long-term consequences of a bad credit score). It’s also worth going over budgeting basics like how to keep track of expenditures and balance a checkbook.
Take care of a car
If your teen is bringing a car to school, she should know basic car maintenance skills, including how to fill up the tank, change a tire and also get it serviced (and roughly how much this should cost so she doesn't get ripped off). We don't want to tell you how long we went between oil changes in college.
Late night study sessions = lots of caffeine. Help your college student save money (and possibly be the most popular kid in the dorm) by teaching her how to work a coffee machine.
Of course you’ll always be there for your baby, but your kid shouldn’t have to pick up the phone every time he has the sniffles. Does your teen know how to check his temperature and which over-the-counter meds to take for which symptoms? Does he know how often to book a dentist appointment and where to get medical attention? These are valuable life skills that will see him through the college years and beyond.