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Seven Essential Life Skills You Need Before Going to College

college skills

You probably have a packing list for your first semester at college, but do you have a list of all the skills you’ll need to thrive there? It’s a good idea to master the basic skills you’ll need at school before you leave home– that way, you’ll be able to focus on your classes and extracurricular activities, instead of puzzling over washing machine settings or trying to figure out how to make a budget. If you can learn to do these seven things before your freshman year starts, you’ll have an easier time transitioning to college life.

The Must Have Life Skills

In college, you’ll have a lot of new freedom to make your own choices and spend your time how you want to, but with this freedom comes a whole new set of responsibilities. As a stepping stone between living at home with your parents and living on your own, the school will present you with many situations when you’ll need to take care of yourself like an adult. These seven basic tasks should be part of your skill set before you even move into your dorm.

Time management

Managing your time becomes incredibly important in college. You’ll have lots of time-intensive commitments including classes, homework, extracurriculars and perhaps a job. The burden of keeping track of assignments, deadlines, and responsibilities will be entirely on your own shoulders, and you’ll have to motivate yourself to get everything done on time. Get a planner and use it to organize your days, and prioritize your study time – after all, that’s why you’re going to college.

Laundry

If you’ve never done your own laundry before, now is the time to learn. Practice using different wash cycles and water temperatures, get into the habit of reading the labels on your clothes, and work on establishing a good laundry routine so you don’t run out of clean underwear. Doing laundry weekly is sufficient for most people.

Budgeting

Bad financial decisions in college can haunt you for years to come. Practice being frugal with your money before you even leave home, so you’ll have good habits in place when you’re on your own. Make budgets and stick to them, and become a master of bargain shopping – despite what you may have heard, it’s completely possible to buy healthy groceries and find cute clothes without breaking the bank. Get into the habit of squirreling savings away whenever you can, you’ll be glad to have that stash when you graduate.

Cooking

It’s always a good idea to know how to cook for yourself. If you haven’t cooked much before, practice making quick, nutritious meals before you leave home so you won’t be figuring everything out for the first time in the dorm kitchen. Don’t limit yourself to simple packaged or boxed foods, either. Yes, you’ll probably eat your share of ramen noodles, but if that’s your only option, you’ll get sick of them quickly. If you need some ideas, try learning to make pasta, eggs, vegetable stir-fries, and baked potatoes with toppings-these are all simple to prepare and you can customize them however you want.

Studying

Strange as it might sound, many high school students– even those who get good grades, don’t know how to study effectively. The study habits that got you through your education thus far might not be adequate in college. By the time your freshman year rolls around, you should be able to block out distractions and focus, pick out the important points in your reading, and have a system for taking notes and committing information to memory. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of testing yourself on your readings, both to check your own understanding and to prepare for quizzes in class.

Manners

You’ll need to be able to get along with roommates, classmates, and teachers in college, and your ability to make a good impression on others will affect your future friendships and letters of recommendation. Be sure you’re all brushed up on basic etiquette, politeness, and social drills Also, if you don’t already know how to send a polite email, learn how. You’ll have to send a lot of emails during your time in school, so it’s important to come across well in writing.

Health maintenance

School can be a bit of a minefield where your health is concerned. Colds and bugs are easy to catch when you’re around so many people every day, college campuses tend to harbor high rates of mental health problems such as depression, and, of course, there’s the infamous freshman 15. Establish good routines for taking care of your physical and mental health before you leave, so they’ll be second nature at college. Regular exercise and a diet low in sugar can keep your immune system strong so you’re less susceptible to getting sick, and making regular time for relaxation and fun can keep your stress levels down and your mind healthy.

College brings with it a slew of new responsibilities. Make sure you’re prepared for the practical, everyday tasks you’ll need to do so you can focus your energy on bigger things like excelling in your classes and meeting new people. If skills like managing your time, staying healthy, and cooking for yourself are in your toolbox before you even set foot on campus, you’ll have an ender time transitioning to college life.


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