15 Life Skills You Need To Learn Before Heading To College

In college you may experience many things you may have never experienced before. In the past, you may have relied on your parents to help. However, if you’re moving away and planning to live on campus, your parents won’t be there to help you with everything. Therefore, before heading off to college, learn how to do these 15 things.

1. Waking up on your own. This seems simple, but living at home has made it easy for someone else to help you wake up in the morning to make it to school on time. Once you’re in college and living on your own, you won’t have someone to make sure you are up and ready to get to class on time.

2. Laundry. If you want to have clean clothes that look good, you’ll have to learn how to do laundry. Do you use hot water? Cold water? Can you wash these clothing together or should you separate them? To ensure you don’t ruin any clothing or turn your white clothing pink, you’ll need to do learn how to do your own laundry.

3. Eating healthy. At home, your parents may have made sure you were eating enough fruits and vegetables. However, when you start college, the dining hall is typically a buffet that allows you to have whatever you want. Want to eat nothing but cereal? You can, but should you? Learn to make healthy food decisions now. Unhealthy food choices can make you feel sluggish and that can make it even harder to study, focus, and do well in your classes.

4. Managing your money. There is a lot of things related to money that you may have never had to do while living at home with your parents. You will need to know how to budget your money to ensure you make your money last until more comes in. You may have to pay bills by writing a check or making a payment online. Some colleges will have people on campus trying to get you to sign up for a credit card and you’ll need to know how to say no. Having one credit card may be important for emergency situations, but there is no need to have more than one at this time in your life.

5. Time management. At first it seems as though you might have more time in college. You’re in class less per week than you were in high school. However, you may have to dedicate more time to studying than you did in high school. If you add in a part-time job and an extracurricular activity, you might not have much free time. And the one thing many people forget to schedule in is sleep. However, getting enough sleep is important so that you will be at your best. Scheduled out your time and learn to say no if the activity cuts into your sleep or study schedule.

6. Studying. Get to know what works best for you when it comes to studying and retaining information. Is a study group best for you? Or, do you study better when you are alone? If you need to be alone, do you need a quiet place or somewhere with activity? Get to know what works best for you now so you can make a plan for when you start classes in the fall.

7. How to cook. You don’t need to know how to cook a gourmet meal, but you may need to know how to cook a few simple things. Some dining halls have limited schedules and you might miss a meal. You won’t have a full kitchen in your room, but most residence halls have a communal kitchen. Learn how to cook a few things and know to never put any metal, including aluminum foil, in the microwave.

8. Navigating public transportation. For many students, they have never used public transportation. But, in some college cities, taking public transportation is the best way to get around, even if you do have a car on campus. Learn about public transportation in your new college city now, including the stops and how to pay, so you’ll know what to do when you start using it in the fall.

9. Advocating for yourself. Learn to ask for help and advocate for yourself. In high school, your parents may have made calls or visits to your teachers to get something you needed. However, now that you are in college, you will need to do the talking. Don’t be afraid to visit professors during office hours. If you’re having issues in your residence hall, talk to your resident advisor (RA). If you need something, ask.

10. Basic first aid. At some time in college, you are going to not feel well or get hurt. Learn how to take care of yourself. If you’re feeling a little sick, know what medication you should take. If you cut yourself, have bandages and other items ready if needed. And, learn when you need to visit the doctor or the hospital.

11. Staying safe. No matter how safe your college campus is, there are certain things you need to know. You should never walk on campus at night alone. Skip shortcuts when they are not well-lit. If you have to travel alone at night, most college campuses have escort services so you don’t have to travel alone. Stay alert and don’t be texting or using your phone the entire time you are walking on campus. Don’t over share on social media and tell everyone where you are at ever minute of the day. Even if you attend one of the safest colleges, be cautious and careful to ensure your safety.

12. How to coexist with others. Many of us had our own rooms when growing up. And, if we did share a room with a sibling, disagreements were sometimes handled by fighting physically. This cannot be the way to handle a disagreement with your roommate. No matter who your roommate is you may have disagreements while living together. Understand that people think and do things differently and learn how to effectively solve a problem or disagreement.

13. Go to class. Attending class is not a requirement like it was in high school. Most college professors do not take attendance and you can technically miss a class. However, attending class is very important. Your professor may share important information that may not be found in the textbook. Just because you can miss a class doesn’t mean you should.

14. Cleanliness. A small dorm room can get messy very quick if you don’t clean and organize. Having a messy room can make it hard to find the things you need when you need them. Plus, being a messy person can definitely cause conflict with a roommate. Learn how to organize your things. Take out your trash regularly, especially if you’re throwing food away because no one wants a smelly room (just because you won’t smell it doesn’t mean others won’t). Vacuum once in a while. There will be vacuum cleaners available for use from your dorm.

15. Just say no! You are going to be pulled in many different directions. Know your priorities and if an activity is not going to fit into your schedule, it is okay to say no. There will also be people trying to pressure you to drink, smoke or do drugs. Again, it is okay to say no. If there is anything you don’t want to do, do not feel pressured to say yes just be liked. It is always okay to say no to something you don’t want to do.

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