It’s finally happening. The moment most parents both dread and look forward to. Their kid is moving out of the house for the first time and heading off to college. You have high hopes for their future (or maybe you don’t). Empty nest syndrome is a powerful thing. Did you raise them well enough? Are they going to starve to death? Eat nothing but pizza? Wear the same pair of underwear for a week straight?
You raised them to the best of your ability and now they will have a chance to get their first taste of life on their own. There are still several key lessons to teach them before they leave to help prepare them for everyday life. As an educator I see students from the beginning of their educational lives all the way up through college. Here are some of the most important tips students need to learn before leaving the nest.
Lesson #1: Taking Care of Money
This is a huge one. Up until now, most teenagers got to spend their money on pretty much whatever they wanted. Whether or not they earned an allowance or worked a part-time job, they still might not grasp the value of a dollar or the importance of saving. Do they know how to maintain a budget? Make sure the bills are paid on time and some put away into savings?
Even more so, do they understand that going to college isn’t free (unless it is) and how they will spend the next ten years of their lives paying back a student loan? The state of the economy? How well their degree will translate to real-world jobs? Do they know how to pinch pennies, like making coffee from home versus that $5 diabetic coma they serve elsewhere?
Life lessons and good management of money now will lead to a more prepared adult by the time they graduate college.
Lesson #2: Staying Safe
Whether we’re willing to accept it or not, college campuses can be rife with negative influences. College rape culture is a real thing. Underage drinking and partying WILL happen. You’ve done your best to protect your child while living under your roof, but now they will have to make their own decisions and peer pressure will be tough to overcome.
Before sending your kids away to college, make sure they know about the dangers of partying, where the security offices are, and a plan of action for any scenario that might pop up.
Lesson #3: Getting Around
There are a few basic essentials that everyone needs to know. This is especially true with life on a college campus. Does your child know how to change a tire? This is a simple lesson they should know the moment they get a set of wheels, yet, a lot of today’s teens and young adults have never changed one.
Is there public or college-sponsored transportation they can take? Do they know where the parking lots are in relation to their classes? Where to shop for food? The sooner they become familiar with these basics, the easier life on their own will be.
The Groza Learning Center is outside Los Angeles and many of our students are familiar with local transportation, including riding public buses. If your child is going to college in a city with a different type of public transportation, take a trip with them and learn which lines go to and from the college.
Lesson #4: Shopping and Cooking
Living on fast food and take-out is EXPENSIVE, and can be bad for your health. One of the top skills everyone should know is how to cook for themselves. Kids can be too used to home-cooked meals, but once they move out, family meals will be few and far between. The basics will do, but while you’re showing them, keep in mind the types of food they’ll most likely be eating while in a dorm.
Alternatively, teach them how to follow sales, clip coupons, and the basics of shopping for their own food. They’ll thank you for it later in life.
At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility to ensure our kids are fully prepared for life on their own. It will be a difficult adjustment for a lot of them, but that’s okay. The more prepared they are, the easier it will be.