10 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before They Move Out for College

One of the things parents often wonder as they get ready to send their teens off into the world is "are they prepared." With a daughter about ready to move out this summer and head to college, this has been one of the things as parents, that we think of often. With heavy required course loads, teens don't' have the flexibility in their schedules to take life-skills classes, and schools often don't have them available anymore. Life demands can get in the way of us teaching our teens the basic life skills they need before they move out of the house and head to college, but I've got you covered! Here are 10 life skills your teen needs to be an independent responsible young adult. 

college kid, life skills for teenagers

10 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before They Move Out for College

teenagers and college kids

1. Do Their Own Laundry

This may seem basic, but I wasn't the only college student in the basement laundry room during my first month of college learning how to start the washing machine! Doing laundry isn't hard, but some tips and attempts at home will have your teen ready to tackle their dirty clothes.

college students laundry

2. Time Management

One of the things your teen may be looking forward to the most is that their parents won't be looking over their shoulder helping them stay on task. Their life is about to become incredibly unstructured and they will be responsible for how they spend their time. Help your teens be as prepared as they can be by having time management skills before they leave home. Help them find a system that works for them, maybe it's a written planner,  a reminder in their phone or a running to-do list, whatever it is, help them discover what works before they leave for college.

3. Basic Money Management

I had no idea how to balance my checkbook when I went to college. I had checks left in my checkbook, so how did I not have money in my bank account? Basic money management is a great life skill to start your teens off on the right foot.

It's important to talk about creating a budget and basic bill payments as well as cover things like compounding interest and paying off debt. Small expenses can add up quickly and with the expense of college, your teens could be starting off their adulthood by acquiring debt more quickly than they acquire their degree. I would also recommend the Budget Bros blog for solid financial advice for your teens and young adults. 

4. Make Their Own Appointments

I know this is one of those things that just seems easier to do for your teens, but trust me, it's not doing them any favors. Teens should know how to set up their own appointments for the doctor, dentist or a job interview. 

college student

5. How to Use Insurance

This may seem as basic as number 1, but after going to the allergist, I realized my son thought the doctor was just treating him for free because he wanted to help. Make sure your teens are familiar with your insurance, how it works and how to access the benefits that are available to them.

6. How to Maintain Healthy Habits

The odds that your high school athlete will be a college athlete are fairly slim. Teens who were once very active with sports are suddenly finding themselves more sedentary and they will need to be intentional about finding healthy activities they enjoy. They will also likely have unlimited access to all-you-can-eat dorm food multiple times a day that is far better than anything we had when we were in college. Having the foundation for healthy habits is important as your teen is living independently and is now fully in control of this.

7. Do Basic Cleaning

Your teen may be sharing a room for the first time as they enter into dorm life at college. Basic cleaning skills will be required to help ease this transition when mom and dad aren't picking up after them anymore. As young adults start to move out on their own, being able to unclog a drain or plunge a toilet are important life skills so you don't get a call at 2 am asking for help!

8. Talk to Adults

Learning to solve their own problems as teenagers is an important skill so that they can navigate the world independently. Part of this is knowing how to talk to adults, especially adults in authority. Teens shouldn't be intimidated to ask for help from professors, seek office hours or troubleshoot their options if they fail and exam or miss a deadline. 

teenager communication skills

9. How to Have Hard Conversations

Most of today's teens communicate through texting and social media, but when sharing a room with a roommate or navigating complex relationships, teens should know how to communicate. They shouldn't be afraid to have hard conversations, know how to connect with others and how to show empathy as well as face disagreements with an open mind. 

10. Basic Cooking Skills

Most teens who move into a dorm won't need too many culinary skills if they are on a meal plan, but they will need to know basic cooking skills like how to use a microwave {um, seriously, not all teens know they can't put metal in the microwave}, basic food safety {how long are those leftovers good for in their mini-fridge} and how to cook a basic meal, especially if they have access to a small kitchenette. These skills, of course, need to be more in-depth if they are moving out into an apartment on their own. 

It won't be long until your student is living independently. Help your teen get the best start that they can by giving them these 10 life skills. 

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