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Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Essential Life Skills Teens Must Learn Before They Leave Home

Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

Article by Katherine O'Brien, ThD candidate, Certified College Planning Specialist

This is what we hope for when we visit our children in their first apartment or dorm suite. Such a scene, full of cleanliness and orderliness, does not happen automatically.

 While many of us are aware of good study habits, carefully course selection, the ability to attain top test scores, and basic time management as skills we need to help our teens develop, there are a host of additional skills they also need in order to flourish once they move out of our homes, whether to work or to study at university.

Here is the list I use when I work with my students, particularly during the Spring of their senior year.

Domestic Skills

Meal planning, shopping, and preparation

Cleaning a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living area properly

Maintaining a yard - in every season

Laundry - treating stains, sorting clothes, proper care of garments, proper storage, use of a hamper, not the floor for dirty and wet clothes and towels

Cleaning hair out of a sink, shower, and/or tub drain

Pushing chairs in after use/ Tidying up after yourself in general

Trash management - use the bin, not the floor!

Clipping nails over a waste basket

Be a Good Roommate

Say please and thank you as necessary

Make eye contact during conversations

No electronics during meals and around company in general

Be kind to strangers

Be on time 

Keep promises

Be trustworthy

Don't gossip

Know how to resolve conflicts and work through difficulties

Financial Skills


Know how to pay bills - online, cash, with check

Understand how insurance works (home, car, life, health)

Understand how debt works, and how to avoid it, and how to get out of it as needed

Understand taxes - how they work, how to file, state, federal 

Self Care

Make own appointments

Arrange own transportation - walk, bike, car, taxi/uber/lyft, bus, train, plane

Manage time

Know how to get help when needed - practical, repairs, counseling, tutoring, medical, etc.

Learn from mistakes and failures

What strategies can you use to manage stress? 

Pay attention to yourself. Are you flourishing or surviving?

College (and Life) Plan/Goals

What do you want to learn? Academically, personally, socially, etc.

How do you want to show up? Be intentional.

What experiences do you want to have? To avoid?

Networking - who and what kinds of people do you want to meet? social, professional, professors, mentors, peers, etc.

What programs/opportunities do you want to participate in during your junior and senior year? How can you prepare for them?

How can you best organize your tasks and your time?


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