Many students are eager to take on the adult world after high school, but the truth is that doing this effectively takes years of practice. During all the years of preparing for academic futures, basic life skills are often overlooked. Making sure they have such skills will get them off to a good start regardless where they are headed.
How to Cook
Learning to cook basic meals from scratch sets people up with a healthier, cheaper way to live than eating out all the time. Healthy cooking is just as important. While eating pasta every day is economical, it's much healthier to add vegetables, fruit and a source of protein.
Teens need to be able to do their laundry without turning everything pink -- sorting by color and water temperature -- and how to iron different fabrics. They should know how to hand-stitch a torn seam, how to hem, sew on a button and be prepared with a sewing kit on hand for such repairs.
Teens may prefer online banking, but they should also know how to write and endorse checks, use deposit slips and deal with the bank in person. They should plan a budget based on their income -- even if that includes money from parents or scholarships -- and keep track of their expenses. Financial savvy also means knowing how to compare prices, handle unfair fees and being aware of possible scams.
Maintenance and Upkeep
Whether home will be a dorm room or apartment, teens should know the basics of taking care of it. Learning to hang pictures without harming the walls will keep dorms and landlords from charging for damage. Regular cleaning of at least the bathroom and floors will provide a sanitary environment and make it easier to clean when the school year or lease is over.
True independence includes knowing how to get around. Every teen should know how to drive a car before leaving school, including driving at night, in all weather conditions and on highways. They should also know what information to exchange after an accident. But a car is not the only way to get around town; it's also important to know how to use public transportation. Teens should know how to find and read a bus schedule, access the subway and call a taxi.
Hunt for a Job
Whether they're going to work or to college, teens will soon need to find a job. While schools often help students put together resumes, they also need to know how to look for jobs on and off campus. It's called a "job hunt" for a reason -- hunting is required, asking for help, networking and getting creative about new places to look.
Teens need to know how to solve problems themselves -- to speak up, ask questions and be assertive. Living with a roommate requires compromise, setting boundaries, voicing concerns and settling disputes. Professors expect students to take the initiative if they need help. Teens whose parents have intervened for them up until this point need to step back and let their kids solve their own problems.
Since they won't be checking in with parents as often, teens should know how to take their safety seriously. This means locking doors, being wary of strangers, and understanding how behavior changes when alcohol or drugs are involved. Basic safety skills that are good to know include first aid, CPR and self defense.
Establish an Exercise Routine
After high school, when physical education classes and sports are over, it's easy to abandon exercise. Teens should establish a routine for activity and make it a part of their everyday lives -- whether by joining a health club or getting involved in a sports league -- will help them stay fit and deal better with stress.
Develop Social Skills
High school students can be excused for a lack of social skills, but out in the real world it's important to get along with people, shake hands, look others in the eye and carry on simple conversations. While some teens' youthful confidence can be seen as cockiness, others are too timid to speak up. Learning a more balanced approach -- being confident but not overconfident -- will help them throughout their lives.
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