TEXAS VIEW: Life skills to know as students transition to adulthood

By The Lufkin News Writer

As hundreds of Angelina County seniors prepare for high school graduation in a few weeks, there are many different directions in which these bright young minds may be headed: junior college or a four-year university, vocational or trade school, straight into the work force, joining the military, traveling or simply vegging out at Mom and Dad’s until they can figure out who they want to be when they grow up.

Nothing’s wrong with any of these paths, but there are a few lessons not taught in school that all teens should know as they transition into independence and adulthood. And those planning to attend college away from home, in particular, often lack some important skills they’ll need to be successful everywhere from the classroom to the dorm room.

Here’s a list of basic life skills students should learn before leaving the nest, as compiled by online scholarship resource Fastweb.com.

Home and Personal Care Skills

  • Use basic kitchen appliances; wash/dry clothes, fold laundry and determine which clothes to take to the dry cleaners; make a bed (with clean sheets); properly clean a toilet, shower, bathroom floor, etc; unclog a toilet; set an alarm and wake yourself up on time; get rid of spiders and bugs (without help).

Life-Management and Organization Skills

  • Create a budget; keep financial records organized; organize all passwords, accounts and important documents in a safe place for reference; use a credit card responsibly, avoiding debt; learn when/how to pay taxes; learn time management; keep a daily calendar; set up internet/cable; calculate a tip; split a check among friends; address an envelope; write a check; balance a checkbook; pack smarter; change the battery in a fire alarm; back-up information on your computer and other devices; manage/clean-up your social media accounts.

Student-Specific Skills

  • Shop smarter for books; keep track of grades; keep track of assignments due; sign up/register for classes; maintain healthy study habits; contact professors for help; navigate to classes; discuss living guidelines with your roommate; locate the student section of your university’s website; take clear, readable notes; essay writing; know how to create an outline; public speaking; seek out extracurricular activities you enjoy; create a schedule that works for you; maintain a healthy balance between your academic and social lives.

Professional Skills

  • Write a resume; draft a cover letter; professionally format your emails; write thank-you notes; network.

Transportation Savvy

  • Read a map; fill up a car with gas; change a tire; hail a taxi; bike maintenance; utilize and navigate public transit.

General Conscientiousness

  • Awareness of your surroundings; recognizing a potentially dangerous situation; have personal medical information and keep up with appointments; emergency preparedness; avoid drugs and alcohol; be sexually responsible; how to say “no,” respectfully; how to ask for help; be open-minded; accept constructive criticism.

As our graduating seniors prepare to spread their wings and enter the world of “adulting,” these are all things their parents won’t be around to handle for them much longer. Add that to the laundry list of experiences we’ve all encountered to some extent along the road to adulthood and independence (loneliness, failure, difficulty making friends, trouble standing up for yourself, feeling homesick) and what should be the greatest time of a young person’s life can often feel overwhelming.

We encourage teens to spend the summer before college mastering as many of these skills as possible to make it easier to navigate that “life without parents” they’ve been dreaming of for so long before they learn the hard way just how much their parents have been doing for them each day.

Good times and mind-opening educational experiences await all of our graduating seniors, regardless of their chosen paths. Mastering some of these basic life skills now will leave them free for more of those opportunities in the near future.