Essential Life Skills for Young High School Leavers to Build Before College/University

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7 Essential Life Skills for High Schoolers to Build Before College

It’s finally happening. The moment most high schoolers countdown to; it's time to move out of the house for the first time and head off to college. It's an exhilarating time, for sure, but you may be experiencing some insecurities and doubt as you transition into this next stage of your life.
While high school has provided you with a solid foundation of academics and life lessons, there are still several key lessons to learn before you embark on the next four years (or more) of your life. 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, you probably got to spend your money, or more likely, your parents money, on pretty much whatever you wanted. While you may have earned an allowance or worked a part-time job, you still might not fully grasp the value of a dollar or the importance of saving. Do you know how to maintain a budget? Do you have a plan to make sure the bills are paid on time and some put away into savings?

The biggest financial cloud that looms over most college students is the amount of potential debt you'll be in post-graduation. You could very well spend the next ten years of your life paying back a student loan. Other factors that slip to the wayside while you're enjoying your newfound freedom outside of your parents' home is what will the state of the economy be when you graduate? How well will your degree translate to real world jobs? Do you 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 you graduate college.

Lesson #2: Staying Safe

Whether you'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're responsible now for making your own decisions and peer pressure can be tough to overcome.

Essential Life Skills for Young High School Leavers to Build Before College/University

Before heading off to college, make sure you have a grasp on things such as where your school's 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. Do you know how to change a tire? This is a simple lesson you should know the moment you 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 you can take? Do you know where the parking lots are in relation to your classes? Where to shop for food? The sooner you become familiar with these basics, the easier life on your 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 you are attending college in a city with a different type of public transportation, take some practice trips 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. Chances are, you've had your own private caterers (hi, mom and dad) up until now and are used to home-cooked meals. Once you move out, family meals will be few and far between. Take some time to learn how to cook. The basics will do, but keep in mind the types of food you'll most likely be eating while in a dorm [see these very essential tips for every student to help you out].

Alternatively, you can be more diligent with following sales or clipping coupons.

At the end of the day, it’s now your responsibility to be fully prepared for life on your own. It might be a difficult adjustment at first, but that’s okay. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be.

Lesson #5: Time Management

Up until now, you’ve had a team of people telling you how to spend your time. You’ve had parents who reminded you that you need to go to bed at a reasonable hour, teachers who got on your back about missed assignments, and a school with a similar schedule every day. All of that goes away as soon as you set foot on campus.

How do most new college students deal with the change? Poorly, in a lot of cases. Some people stay up all night and then sleep through their classes. Others fail assignments because they don't know how to budget enough time to complete them. It hurts their grades, their health, and their mood.

You can be the anomaly and dodge this problem by entering college already knowing how to manage your time. There will still be an adjustment period as you learn your new schedule, but you’ll be better at adapting. The only way to get good at this is to practice. Speak with your parents and negotiate some opportunities to set your own schedules and deal with the natural consequences of your choices before you head off to school.

Also read: Essential resources every student must know to be comfortable in College

Lesson #6: Making Repairs

Things break. It happens, especially when those things are surrounded by rowdy college students. A broken item doesn't have to be a big deal, but it often is for students that don't know how to fix things on their own.

Look at the average dorm room and think about how many breakable objects are inside it. If the computer breaks, you’ll have a hard time getting your work done until it can be fixed. There might be a microwave. A broken microwave may not seem like a big deal, but going somewhere else to boil ramen noodles can take a lot of time out of the day. A broken fan doesn't seem like it matters until you’re sweating through a hot day without one.

You have three options in those situations. You can fix things yourself, you can spend a lot of money to have someone else do it or replace the item, or you can go without. Fixing the problem yourself is often the only thing you’ll be able to afford, and it's fairly easy to do. As long as you know how to handle basic tools like screwdrivers and know how to search for instructions online, you’ll be able to cover most repairs on your own and save a lot of money.

Lesson #7: Handling Paperwork

Almost nobody can make it through a modern college degree without running into a paperwork problem. Declaring majors, registering for classes, and almost everything else that must you do involves filling out forms, and sometimes those forms get lost. Nobody is likely to hunt for those problems and solve them for you, so you’ll need to be able to do it yourself.

This takes three separate skills. The first one is finding people who can help. In most cases, this means hunting through a list of offices to find one that sounds like it can help. You’ll need to be able to explain your problem quickly, but still cover all of the information. More importantly, you will also need to communicate politely so that people actually want to help you. Finally, you will need to be able to follow whatever directions you are given to actually fix the problem.

This one is hard to practice, but you can still prepare for these problems. By knowing that it's alright to ask for help and understanding the value of being polite, you can probably work your way through any problem without too much trouble.

Author Bio:
Scott Groza owns and operates the Groza Learning Center, a Pacific Palisades, California based tutoring and education center that caters to the surrounding cities including Brentwood, Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice. Groza recently published a unique list of SAT and ACT test hacks, for more information please visit during business hours or call the Groza Learning Center at (310) 454-3731.

Related: How to Finance Your Studies Now for That Future Dream Career

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