8 Life Skills Kids Need Before College


8 Life Skills Kids Need Before College
Is your high school senior ready for the real world?


By Dr. James G. Wellborn for

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Senior year.  EVERYONE is counting down the days to graduation; teenagers, parents, teachers, school administrators, the local police.


Finally, your kid can enter the phase psychologist Jeffrey Arnett calls emerging adulthood, a time of life marked by career training, partial independence and lack of long-term responsibilities.  (It is followed, all too frequently, by a phase parents call HORRIFYING when adult children return home to live.)  But, before you launch (or toss) your kids into this next phase, it is worth reviewing a few of the things your kid needs to know to be a successful emerging adult. 

Money management

Your high school senior needs to know just how far a dollar goes (and how to stop there).  Are they regularly asking for extra money?  Do they take for granted that you are going to cover their expenses?  Do they overdraft their checking account?  Do they put money in savings?  If you are still paying for things, consider making it a monthly allowance and require THEM to make the payments on luxuries like cell phones, gasoline and online video game memberships (and put some of it in savings). 


RELATED 8 Essential Budgeting Tips for College Students

Communal-living skills

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Your kid is about to share a living space with people other than family.  (Finally, all those years of assigning them chores will pay off.  Yeah right!)  Do they pick up after themselves?  Do they finish chores without being nagged?  Do they keep their living space relatively sanitary (if not necessarily neat)?  If not it’s time to discuss being considerate of others (i.e., you are not a child any more), personal accountability (i.e., people shouldn’t have to remind you over and over), and personal responsibility (i.e., I am not your maid) with your kid.  It’s also time for them do their own laundry. 


Keeping their own schedule

Soon, your kid will need to completely manage their own appointment calendar.  Do they get up on time for school?  Do they keep appointments?  Do they remember school assignments and exams?  Have them use that damnable cell phone to remember their own appointments and fulfill obligations.  If something falls through the cracks, sit down with them to review how it happened.  Have them modify the plan and try it again and again and again until it works. 

Life skills

Your kid will need to speak for themselves, stand up for themselves, and play well with others without your help.  Do they know how to greet people?  Can they express their frustration in appropriate ways?  Can they work with people they don’t particularly like?  Do they resist social pressure?  Do they encourage others?  If not, back up and review.  Require them to practice on you.   


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