Nancy Mattia, CTW Features
The first year living away from home can be tough not only for college freshmen but for parents as well, especially if the latter group was used to doing everything for their children, from laundry to meals. Is that you, worried, “How will they get on without me?” Very well, it turns out, if you prep them ahead of time. Here are some of the basic life skills to cover before they leave:
Do the laundry
If you’ve been doing their laundry since they wore onesies, have them do practice runs at home in the weeks before drop-off to college. Important stuff to tell them: White clothes will turn pink if washed with anything red, and it’s a good idea to read any washing-instruction labels before hitting “start.”
Clean the bathroom
A dirty job, yes, but somebody’s got to do it even if it grosses them out. Introduce your son or daughter to a scrub brush and show them how to use it on the shower, sink, and toilet. Ideally, they would take turns cleaning the bathroom with any roommates but—cold truth—they should be prepared to do it every week themselves.
Cook simple meals
There are just so many instant ramen noodles a person can eat. Teach your child a few easy recipes that require only a few basic ingredients and are budget-friendly. Some favorites: buttered pasta, baked chicken thighs, and Sloppy Joes.
Use an ATM
Today’s college-bound kids are accustomed to paying off their debts (pizza with pals, Ubers, haircuts) with Venmo or their bank debit card. Someday, however, they’ll have to pay for something with cash, and that’s where knowing how to work an ATM comes in handy. (Give them a heads up that each withdrawal may incur a possibly high service fee.)
Budget their money
Whether they’ll get a stipend from you or earn money from part-time work, they need to figure out a spending budget for going out, shopping and other items that are not part of tuition and rooming costs.
Assess when to see a doctor
According to the Mayo Clinic, some signs that you should call an MD include excessive thirst, little or no urination, severe abdominal pain and a fever of more than 102 F.
Make a bed
If it’s been awhile since they last made their bed at home offer a refresher course. But then again, it may be a waste of time: Some students never get around to changing their sheets—and sleep on the same set, unwashed, the entire school year!
Stay safe at night
College campuses can be big and lonely places at night. To avoid students walking alone in the dark, many schools, such as Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of Chicago, offer students a late night/early morning shuttle around their campuses. Your freshman should find out their school’s policy, which will be online.