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5 Life Skills Your Teen Needs Before Going To College

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I’ve got about two and a half years before my teen is ready to fly the coup and go off to college.  She is a sophomore and is SO ready to go now. She’s at that age that she is so independent and chafes at the bit with restrictions. But, before I let her go, I need to know she will be ok on her own away from home. Here is a list of life skills your teen needs before going to college:

1 – Basic Life Skills: Your teen needs to know how to do laundry. They need to be able to grocery shop and be able to make a quick meal. Most college campuses have dorms with kitchens. So make sure they can cook. Be able to catch a bus if they don’t have their car with them.  without going into debt. The need for money management is paramount. I went to college and within six months I was in debt and sending out applications to get a job to pay my bills.

2 – Money Management: They need to be comfortable to go shopping without going into debt. The need for money management is paramount. I went to college and within six months I was in debt and sending out applications to get a job to pay my bills.

3 – Time Management: You’re not going to be there to make sure they’re up to go to classes. They need to be able to handle getting projects done and not have to pull all-nighters if they can avoid it. Although, we do know all-nighters and college classes go hand in hand. But, they need to be smart about WHEN they have to pull those.

4 – Self-Discipline: They are away from home for the first time.  No curfew and parents at the door looking at their watches? Let’s be honest. The first year is going to be the hardest. We can only try to prepare them to accept the consequences if they don’t practice self-discipline.

5 – Emotional Coping Skills: This is going to be hard. In the end, no matter how much they want to be away from home? They are going to be away from everything they are familiar with. They are going to be lonely if they don’t have friends going to the same college with them. For this one, I strongly recommend that the teen joins a forum for incoming students. Ask the college if they can have the contact email address for their roommate if it’s not in the communication received.

To help get your teen prepared, here are a few books I recommend for them to start reading.

One of my main concerns is that my daughter has ADHD. I’ve found this is a good book as well:

In conclusion, these are just a very few life skills a teen needs to have before going to college. What other skills would you suggest to that college student?


  1. Alli Smith

    I remember when my kids went off to college. Thankfully, they were prepared for the most part. I think I was the one who wasn’t prepared. 🙂 I cried all the way home the day I left my oldest child at college. These life skills are spot on!

  2. Chris Lewis

    These are so important to learn, but also to teach your kids. Our kids have to be self-sufficient and I am hoping that I am doing the right things with my own daughters!
    Chris Lewis recently posted…Dads in the Limelight – Kipp Jarecke-Cheng of Lazy Dad’s Guide to EverythingMy Profile

  3. robin Rue

    I could not agree more. When my stepson went off, I also made sure he could cook, knew how to clean and could cook himself a decent meal.

  4. Paula Schuck

    These are all absolute musts. The kids need to be able to cook. do laundry, and handle the stresses of college life. It’s SO not all fun and games.

  5. candy

    They need all these skills and don’t wait until they are in high school to start teaching then these skills.

  6. Natalie

    Laundry and cooking are definitely essential. I’m glad my mom taught me how to do both in my pre-teens.

  7. Pam Wattenbarger

    These are definitely skills your teen will need in college. Being able to laundry is really important so they don’t bring all their laundry home for break!

  8. Krystal

    I have worked with youth groups and it always amazes me how many are lacking basic life skills. I agree that we need to help them be prepared with skills to run a home and manage their time and money.

  9. Katie Kinsley

    Time management is a skill that everyone needs to learn at every and any age. I don’t think that a lot of people can manage a lot of their schedules. Laundry was an easy one to learn!
    Katie Kinsley recently posted…ZA’ATAR CAULIFLOWER PASTA WITH OLIVES AND SAUSAGEMy Profile

  10. Annemarie LeBlanc

    These are all great things to teach your children before they head off for college. My kids stayed with me while they were attending college because we live relatively near the university. My cousin’s only child was the one who had to stay in the dorm. It was my cousin who was more freaked out than her daughter. Good thing my niece is cool, calm, and responsible. She’ll be graduating this year.

  11. Paula Bendfeldt Diaz

    These are all such important skills to teach your children. It’s so important to teach them to be independent and learn to manage their time an money from an early age.

  12. Chubskulit Rose

    I love all these tips. AS early as possible, I am trying to teach my two kids all the things they need to know when they go to college and be on their own.

  13. Mimi Green

    Time management is the struggle for my son. He can do laundry and all of that with no problem. He is only 12 so I have time, I hope he gets it before college.
    Mimi Green recently posted…Did you see Layana Aguilar on Project Runway? Now she is at Fashion WeekMy Profile

  14. Jasmine Eclipse

    Yes yes yes. All of these tips are amazing. I wish I knew about these before I went to University, because they would have been so helpful!

  15. Polarbelle

    Good tips for parents. I didn’t know any of that when I went to college. I had to adapt and learn on the fly, which most kids that age are able to do, but it’s better to prepare them.
    Polarbelle recently posted…Becca Cosmetics Prismatic Amethyst Pressed Shimmering Highlighter, Pics, Swatches and Dupe ComparisonsMy Profile

  16. Sapana V

    You have explained every necessary skill that teens need to consider before going to college. Thanks for the great tips.
    Sapana V recently posted…Rare Hindu Baby Names Meaning Gift from God or MiracleMy Profile

  17. Garf

    This brings back a lot of memories. I still remember those days especially the cooking and budgeting stuff.

  18. melissa

    I have a daughter the same age and yes I am overwhelmed by all the things I am going to have to do to get her to college. The tips you gave are very essential and so practical I will keep them in mind as I have been slowly trying to help her become self sufficient and independent.

  19. Jeanine

    This is really awesome. My oldest is heading to high school next year so we have a little bit more time but this is all great to know and consider!

  20. Cynthia @craftoflaughter

    Every teen needs to learn these skills whether they are heading to college or not. These are great life skills for every teen!

  21. Tereza

    These are great tips – I wish I knew some of these before I went to the uni myself! In fact I left my home country to study abroad and I sometimes wonder how I even survived – I made so many mistakes! x

  22. Jean

    These are definitely important skills to have before leaving home. Uni is such an important, valuable and fun filled time that young people don’t want to be stressing about the basic skills!

  23. Jessi

    Yep! These are spot on. SO many of theses are lacking with college kids. (I know cause I used to work at a college). Maybe they should all be sending this list to high school kids! lol

  24. Amber Nelson

    These are all so very important and I totally agree that teenagers should know all of these before they graduate high school.

  25. Courteney Noonan

    This is so true! I live in student accommodation at university and so many people still don’t know how to do laundry or cook for themselves!

  26. Theresa

    I agree that time management is crucial when you go to college! I would add that work / life balance is important too. Knowing when to focus and when to have fun matters.

  27. Kerri

    We just recently had my two older daughters start the laundry. If they can figure out iphones and apps, they can do this. Now, I need to show them the art of folding.

  28. Toughcookiemommy

    Money management is a must. I would have loved to have some financial training before I started college too.


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