LIVINGSTON, NJ - Going to college can be a gigantic leap for teens—many of whom are leaving mom and dad for the first time, according to Admit U, a college planning firm located in Livingston that services the local community by providing individualized and comprehensive services designed to help families navigate the college admissions process. Some of the tips described below have been adapted from Wendie Lubic, a college consultant.
Not only are most students going to live on their own at school, without their families, many will be learning to live with strangers as roommates. They will be discovering how to deal with different personalities, and to manage their own behaviors accordingly.
In addition, while scheduling classes, study time and time for fun will be on the top of many teens’ minds as they arrive at college, there are also a host of other things they will need to think about too like managing money, doing laundry and even planning doctor visits when sick.
“Mastering a variety of life skills before college starts can make this leap feel more exciting than overwhelming,” said Melanie Telesnick, owner of Admit U.
Admit U, which helps students and their parents find and apply to college, recognizes that there is more to college than just getting good grades. To help students prepare for the transition to college, Admit U has put together a list of 15 important tasks that members of the Class of 2015 can work on this summer.
“Parents can teach their pre-college aged children many important life skills and practice with them prior to dropping them off at school,” said Telesnick. “The summer is a great time to begin.”
1. Money Management
Most students are put on a budget when they get to school. Many have saved up from previous jobs and others have accounts set up by their parents, often for “emergencies.” Others will be carrying credit and/or debit cards—some for the first time. Regardless of how the money got into the account, it is important for students to learn how to manage their money and learn how to budget it. In addition, some students who don’t live in a dorm may even have to manage bills for electricity, TV and more. And, while most students have a food plan at school, they may choose to eat off it once in a while at a restaurant.
“Teens should learn the importance of paying bills on time and in full, when possible,” said Talesnick. “Also, parents can teach them the consequences of carrying a credit card balance and how to use a debit card without over drafting.”
“Students should learn how to monitor their accounts online or through their bank’s app on their phone,” she added.
In addition, some students will need to have a job, while they are at school.
“While most students will focus on adjusting to classes and dorm life, students should know that there are often numerous job opportunities on campus to earn a few extra bucks while in school,” said Talesnick.
2. Travel Basics
Going to college may be the first time teens will need to make travel arrangements on their own, according to Admit U. To arrive to and from school, those not living within driving distance, may need to rely on traveling by airplane, train, or bus.
“This summer is a great time to teach teems how to comfortably navigate the airport and train station and to review how to use public transportation in the new city where the school is located,” said Talesnick.
Talesnick said that many apps like Uber can help students in need of a ride, and that they should start practicing with the apps at home. Also, websites like Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, and Hipmunk.com offer efficient ways to search for flights at the best prices and times.
3. Car Care
For those planning to have a car at school, Talesnick suggested checking out the school website, handbook or calling to find out about on-campus parking rules and how to pay for metered parking.
In addition, teens from NJ attending an out of state school may have to learn how to pump their own gas for the first time.
“Attention NJ teens — it’s time to pump gas,” said Talesnick.
She also suggested that teens should learn how to change a tire, check tire pressure, check and change the oil, and how to call for roadside assistance when needed.
“These skills are important even for students who don’t have a car at college, as they may be able to help a friend,” she said.
4. Selecting Over-the-Counter Medicine
Everyone gets sick. But, when at home, most parents take their children to the doctor, pick up and often administer medications. Once teens get to college, they will become responsible for their health, which includes deciding when to go to the doctor, where to go and picking up and taking medication.
“Before college begins, parents can help teens determine which over-the-counter medications to select for congestion, muscle pain, headache, etc.,” said Talesnick. “It is also critical for teens to know their own allergies or sensitivities, especially when having medicine prescribed.”
5. Doctor! Doctor!
Knowing where to find a doctor including dentists and ophthalmologists and when to call, especially for fevers, neck pain, and possible concussions, is important for new college students. All colleges offer on-campus health services but sometimes a specialist will be needed.
“Prior to college, parents can discuss signs and symptoms of illness and finding student health, the local hospital and a local doctor and dentist in case of emergencies,” said Talesnick. “We recommend locating them during orientation and to not hesitate to visit when necessary.”
6. Performing Basic First Aid
Emergencies happen. All students should add a First Aid kit to their dorm-shopping list, according to Admit U.
“Students should know how to properly stop bleeding, care for a wound, and have bandages handy,” said Talesnick. “Becoming CPR certified prior to leaving for school is also not a bad idea.”
7. Cooking Basics
Students may want to skip the dining hall once-in-a-while and should know cooking basics like boiling pasta, brewing coffee, and frying eggs, according to Admit U.
“We recommend reviewing the limits of a microwave as well (no metal!) and we advise students not to walk away from popcorn for too long,” said Talesnick.
8. Supermarket Sweep
Freshman year of college may be the first time teens visit the supermarket without mom or dad. Admit U advises parents to teach students how to make food lists, and shop, which includes learning how to pick healthy-looking fruit and vegetables, check freshness dates, and preferred brands.
“Parents can also teach their children about comparison shopping and staying on a budget,” said Talesnick. “In addition, learning how to use coupons and shop during sales is important too!”
9. Reading Nutrition Labels
“While reading labels is especially important for those with allergies, all students should learn how to make healthy choices—limit sugar and fat and boost fiber,” said Talesnick.
Being on one’s own for the first time can lead to the purchasing of more junk food than one would find at home, according to Talesnick. “This summer is a good time to teach students about making proper food purchases and grocery shopping techniques.”
10. Restaurant Etiquette
Many teens have never paid a dinner bill before going to college, according to Admit U. In addition, they may not know that the typical tip is 18-20 percent of the total bill.
“This summer, let your teens foot the bill,” said Talesnick. “Parents can give them cash and/or the credit card, and have them figure out the tip. If they do this a few times, paying the check and tipping can become second nature.”
11 Laundry Skills
Sheets and clothes will get dirty at school and teens won’t be able to ask their parents to do their wash.
“Teens can practice doing laundry at home before they go,” said Talesneick. “They should know how to separate colors, wash, dry, and fold clothes, use detergents, plus how to treat a stain. And, if a teen is ambitious, he/she even can even learn how to use an iron, a steamer and sew on buttons too.”
12. Making the Bed
Although the days of hospital corners may be long gone, students must be ready to make their own bed in college, according to Admit U.
“They also need to remember to wash and change their sheets… at least once per month,” said Talesnick.
(Helpful Hint: Make the bed with two sets of sheets on it, and at least for the second month, there will be a clean sheet ready and waiting underneath.)
13. Party Smart
There will be parties to go to and fraternities and sororities to join.
“It is critical for students to stay safe while they are having fun,” said Talesnick. “They should know that they can enjoy a drink responsibly and stop before getting too drunk or sick (once they are of drinking age).”
However, the student may not be the one who gets sick—it could be a friend or roommate.
“Students should also learn how to take care of a sick roommate orfriend, and when to call 911,” said Talesnick.
In addition, walking on campus at night can be dangerous—especially when alone.
“Students should also remember the buddy system—don’t walk places at night alone,” said Talesnick.
14. Just Say No
Not every situation is a safe one and college is a time when teens will be learning a lot about themselves, their likes, dislikes and comfort levels.
“Say ‘no’ with confidence in any social situation that makes you uncomfortable or feels potentially dangerous,” said Talesnick.
15. When to Use Technology and When to Unplug
Technology can be a student’s best friend, offering alarms, reminders, easy communication with family and friends, access to the internet and even apps for scheduling and studying, according to Admit U. (Note: The iStudiez app gets great reviews for helping students stay on track). However, according to Admit U, students should know that it is okay to unplug sometimes.
“College freshmen often experience less daily structure than they did in high school, and technology/social media can be a big distraction from the work that must get done,” said Talesnick. “Before school begins, parents can help students come up with a plan to unplug when it is time to study.”
All in all, college is a time of learning, growth and experience. Though there will be classes and studying, there will also be time for making friends, having fun, making decisions and taking care of oneself. Students may also be facing some adult situations, without having their parents to lean on directly. Therefore, working at home with parents this summer on some or all of the topics listed above, may prove to be beneficial to teens who will be attending college this fall—many of whom will be on their own for the very first time.
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