From professional networking to folding fitted sheets – there are basic life skills every college freshman needs to succeed – not just in school, but at work, home and life in general. Here’s how to start acquiring these skills now.
Life skills are the skills you need to make your life more manageable – healthier, more efficient, and simply easier. They range from cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry to time management and paying bills. They may sound like “things we all just do,” but they actually take a little bit of practice to get right.
Some universities have begun offering a life skills curriculum through “Adulting 101” workshops. Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, all offer courses on different aspects of ‘adulting’ while others like UC Berkeley offer a student-led “Adulting” course. There is even an Adulting School in Portland, Maine that teaches everything from professional networking to folding fitted sheets.
Here are a few “adulting” skills that will help you take on the “real-world” challenges of college – whether you are attending school from home or on campus.
Time management comprises a variety of skills such as planning, organization, and prioritization. Managing your time does not have to be complicated. It can be as simple as writing down your tasks for the day or week and putting that list in priority order. In fact, making lists has a proven positive effect on your mental state, and is known to relieve anxiety.
Make the act of creating and reviewing your to-do list a routine part of your day. Be realistic about the time requirements of a particular task or activity and your own ability to complete it. Interruptions and scheduling conflicts are bound to occur, so it can be helpful to leave some unplanned time every day as a buffer. A pen and paper are enough to get you started, but there are also a slew of digital solutions you can use.
Eighty-five percent of college students say they feel overwhelmed by their work load (as reported by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America). Paying attention to your mental state and stress levels is crucial for your overall health and your academic performance. Here are some ways to manage stress and self-care.
College students and money struggles often go hand-in-hand, and not just because of the increasing cost of attendance. More often, money issues can be attributed to a lack of basic knowledge about budgeting and paying bills on time. Here are some steps you can take to prevent money woes:
Educate yourself about banking services. Most likely, you will need to set up your own savings or checking account, so you can access money for tuition payments, books and supplies, and food and other expenses. Use money-saving features that many of these accounts offer. For example, look into savings accounts that automatically save a pre-determined amount each month or pay bills automatically. Learn how to use credit cards responsibly so you do not incur more debt than you can afford. Understand the differences between debit, credit, and prepaid cards.
Budgeting. Not only do good budgeting habits serve you well in college, but they lay the foundation for less stressful financial dealings later on. Creating and sticking to a budget is crucial if you use student loans to pay for living expenses and receive a lump-sum amount each semester or year.
College is a shared and increasingly multicultural experience. Communication and collaboration skills will not only help you succeed socially, but professionally and academically as well. Here are three skills to master before and during college:
Developing cultural competence might involve, among other things, reaching out to new and diverse groups of people and examining your own heritage, cultural roots, and belief systems.
Knowing how to do some basic, domestic tasks will serve you well in college and for years to come. Consider these “chores” a form of self-care that can have a positive impact on your health and well-being.
The move from high school to college can feel overwhelming and even a bit disorienting. Mastering some of these life skills now can make the transition easier.
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