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High school students can ease their transition to college by mastering these practical life skills
By admin on 2015-06-11


High school students can ease their transition to college by mastering these practical life skills before they head to school.

  Parents should ensure students know how to take care of basic tasks like cooking or washing clothes.

  By Briana BoyingtonNov. 5, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. EST+ More

  Teaching teens how to wash clothes properly is common advice for parents with high school students heading to college. And while it's important for students to know how to the clean their clothes without shrinking them, experts say that there are a few more practical skills that can help make the transition to college easier for students.

  Before teens head to school next fall, colleges encourage parents to help students learn the following life skills.

  ? Planning: “Contrary to popular belief, you can predict the future,” says Donald J. Foss, author of “Your Complete Guide to College Success” and a professor of psychology at the University of Houston.

  Creating and following a schedule will help teens manage their time, which can help students be successful in college, Foss says. He encourages students to use a calendar that helps them keep track of practical responsibilities – such as washing the laundry every two weeks – and any other important tasks.

  “No one monitors you the way that your parents did or your teachers do in high school. It's pretty much up to you,” he says. “Realizing that means that you have to have a commitment to take charge of your own life.”

  ? Managing money: Parents should make sure that students understand the basics of money management before they head to school, experts say. That includes maintaining a budget and paying bills, but teens should also understand how student loan debt will affect their quality of life after graduation.

  Talking to students about how small expenses like buying a cup of Starbucks for $5 a day adds up over the course of the year can help parents teach students about the importance of using money wisely, experts say. The way that teens use money now can affect how much spending money that they have in college and the amount of debt that students take on and how quickly they're able to pay it off.

  “The decisions that you make on a daily basis, or monthly or even a one-time expense – that all factors into your larger experience. And when students are accumulating into the tens of thousands of dollars of debt, even the small things can add up,” says Reuban Rodriguez, associate vice provost and dean of student affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

  ? Studying: “It turns out that a whole bunch of high school students, even those who did pretty well, don't really know how to even read a college textbook effectively,” the University of Houston's Foss says.

  The common practice of spending hours reading, underlining and rereading text is a waste of time, he says.

  Instead, Foss encourages students to look at what they're supposed to read, determine what's important, make a list of the things they're supposed to know and test themselves multiple times before an instructor tests them.

  ? Staying safe and healthy: Campus safety and sexual assault are significant issues on college campuses.While it can be difficult to prepare for the new environment, families can research campus safety and teens can work to build personal safety habits, VCU's Rodriguez says.

  That can include being mindful of their surroundings, but it also means considering how students can help create a safer community for others, Rodriguez says.

  Students should also have a plan to maintain a healthy lifestyle  when they go to school, says Erin Foster Zsiga, assistant dean of students at Bates College. Students should understand how to navigate a pharmacy, fill prescriptions, change doctors and find any other resources that they may need.

  ? Apartment hunting: Many first-year students will live in on-campus dorms, but for freshmen who live off campus, understanding the ins and outs of apartment hunting can be invaluable, Foster Zsiga says.

  She encourages parents to explain how to hunt for an apartment, explain the responsibility that comes with signing a lease and other details that students might overlook, such as how to make sure they get their security deposit back.

  ? Cooking: Many freshmen have meal plans, but cooking can be another way for teens to bond with other students on campus, Foster Zsiga says.

  Students can use food to share their culture and experiences, and having the recipe for your favorite homemade comfort food can help make the hard days at college a little easier, she says. Knowing how to shop is also important.

  “For our students who live in off-campus apartments, I think that a really important thing is shopping, and shopping so that you're not walking into the grocery store without a list.”

  She encourages parents to discuss how to stock a pantry, save money on food and the differences between processed food and other varieties.

  ? Getting around town: Students with cars should know how to change a tire, and get and use roadside assistance.

  It's also important for students to know their options for getting around town. Some colleges work with transportation services – like Zipcar – that allow you to rent a car for a short time, or provide buses and other campus transportation options, while others are located near public transportation systems. Students should feel confident about using mass transportation or taking care of their own car if necessary.

  Eexperts say colleges are also working to help students bridge the gap between what they know and the life skills that they need to be successful for college, so parents don't have to stress out about preparing their students for everything.

  “It's hard to teach every single lesson before a student goes off to college,” Foster Zsiga says.



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