Essential Life Skills for Teens to Master Before College

Prepare your teenager for the upcoming college experience by imparting these six vital life skills. Equipping them with these abilities will not only empower them to navigate their newfound independence but also establish a solid foundation for sustained achievements.

After overcoming the stresses of entrance exams, applications, the selection process, and ultimately choosing a college, your teenager can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Academically, they have dedicated themselves to reaching this point for at least four years and feel prepared to excel. However, there exist numerous essential life skills that are crucial for their success in college, most of which are not typically taught in a classroom setting.

As parents, you can play a pivotal role in nurturing these skills before your teenager embarks on their college journey in the upcoming fall. By doing so, you will assist them in managing their newfound independence and establishing a solid foundation for sustained accomplishments.

To ensure optimal success for your teenager in college, prioritize the development of these six essential life skills before they embark on their journey in the upcoming fall.

Time Management


Adapting from the structured routine of a school day to the more flexible atmosphere of college can pose challenges for teenagers. From independently getting ready in the morning without parental reminders to managing days with fewer classes and less defined structure, there are numerous instances where inadequate time management can lead to chaos. Assisting your teen in acquiring the skills of prioritization, establishing a routine, and embracing flexibility will equip them with a crucial tool for achieving success.

Daily Living Skills


It’s easy to overlook the importance of basic daily living skills that teenagers may not be accustomed to handling while living at home. These skills include tasks like doing laundry (to avoid any unfortunate red sock incidents), preparing a simple meal (even if they have a school meal plan, knowing how to cook can be beneficial), or arranging their own transportation, such as using Uber. Tom Nathaniel from Lush Dollar suggests exploring free options available to college students, such as complimentary rides on public transportation.

By conducting a little research, your college-bound teenager may discover cost-effective alternatives. As they venture into independent living for the first time, it’s crucial to consider the small day-to-day tasks that we often take for granted. Encourage your teen to start assisting with these tasks at home before they head off to college in the fall.

Money Management


A considerable number of teenagers work part-time jobs during high school, which may have already acquainted them with earning and managing money. However, it is still important to ensure that they possess responsible financial skills, such as effectively using credit/debit cards, avoiding overdraft fees, exploring work-study opportunities, and practicing budgeting. Certain students may receive lump sums from scholarships or financial aid packages, making it crucial for them to be equipped with the necessary skills to budget these funds wisely and make them last throughout the semester or academic year.

Dealing with Illness


In the college environment, particularly in dormitories, illnesses have a tendency to spread. It is crucial for your teenager to understand how to take care of themselves when they are sick and when and how to seek appropriate medical attention. Whether it involves getting extra rest, taking medication, or managing missed classes, being prepared to handle illnesses independently without relying on parental care or communication can be a source of stress.

Scheduling Appointments


Throughout their lives, you have likely been the one in charge of scheduling doctor appointments, dentist visits, eye exams, and more for your teenager. However, before your teen embarks on their college journey in the fall, teaching them how to schedule appointments independently is beneficial. By taking ownership of their appointments and managing their own schedule, they will develop essential time management skills and gain a valuable sense of control over their own lives.

Vehicle Maintenance


If your teenager is taking a vehicle with them to campus, having knowledge of car maintenance becomes crucial. This includes understanding how and when to refuel their tank, knowing how to contact roadside assistance, locating the spare tire, recognizing when an oil change is necessary, being comfortable with allowing others to drive their car and effectively communicating those preferences, and more. Owning a car brings greater responsibilities, and these skills can be practiced at home using the family vehicle before your teenager heads off to school.

The college serves as a valuable transition into the realm of adulthood, offering a balance of newfound independence and a supportive environment. Teenagers who possess the confidence to ask for assistance and actively seek guidance will excel in this new setting. These six life skills can be easily honed through practice at home before your teenager embarks on their college adventure in the fall.

Engage in open and honest conversations with your teen, enabling them to cultivate well-rounded success on this exciting journey.