Student Life

How to Prepare Your Student for Living Away From Home

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By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop

College is usually the first time your student is away from home on a more permanent, long-term basis. Without you there to help them or do certain things for them, your student may run into difficulties or flounder, so it’s important you prepare your student with various bits of knowledge and know-how before they leave for school.

Here is how to get your student ready to live away from home and what you should teach them.

Doing laundry. Being able to do their own laundry is an integral skill your student should learn before they head off to university. Living at home, it’s likely you do the laundry for your student, but this summer, give the laundry reins over to your student who’ll be going to school in the fall. While the laundry machines at school may differ from the one at home, the basic ideas and mechanics are the same, so teaching your student what to do will arm them with the ability to clean their clothes at college.

Have your student help you do the laundry a few times to see how you sort it and what to do before charging them with doing the task solo. Any tips on how to combine loads or save money doing laundry at school would also surely be appreciated since most laundry machines at college take quarters and can be a pain to use.

Cooking. Another thing your student will have to know how to do for themselves, particularly if they are going to be living off-campus in an apartment or house, is how to cook. While not as necessary a skill if they are going to be living in the dorms, it’s still not a bad thing for your student to know how to do. Taking them with you to shop for groceries and having them help you make dinner will allow you to show them how to do these activities.

Stick to simpler and healthy recipes, as it’s unlikely your student will want to buy special or expensive ingredients for one specific recipe. Knowing how to make a few simple but yummy dishes — especially if they make a lot — will enable your student to eat more than just cereal, mac and cheese from a box, and takeout and delivery.

After you’ve somewhat shown them around the kitchen and how things are done, have them make dinner for the family at least once a week during the summer. You should also go over the best way to store food or freeze it so it doesn’t go bad and also some techniques you’ve picked up for picking produce and shopping smart grocery-wise.

Sticking to a budget. Possibly the most important thing you can do to prepare your student for college is to teach them how to make a budget and stick to it. Your student may be used to you being on top of the financials and paying the bills for your family but they’re going to have to learn how to do it themselves, especially if they end up living off-campus.

Teach them how to save money, like by buying generic brands of things rather than name brands, by not blowing a ton of money eating out or ordering in all the time, and bargain-shopping for textbooks or borrowing from the library, all of which will help them save hundreds of dollars each semester. If your student is living in an apartment or house, imparting some tips on how to keep their electric and gas bills low, how to clip coupons, how to price-shop, and other money-saving techniques are all tricks your student will benefit from at school.

Bills & credit cards. Teaching your student how to pay and stay on top of bills, and how to not get into unwanted credit card debt are also important things to cover before your student leaves for school. Lots of credit card companies target college kids and try to get them to sign up for cards. Getting your student a credit card before school and showing them how to use it, how to pay off their balance, etc., is probably a smart move. Even if you may be helping your student out with their bills or expenses, them knowing the ins and outs of that stuff and understanding how much these things cost will make them more aware of their spending and hopefully motivate them to employ the money-saving tricks you’ve taught them.

Safety. Your student may drink alcohol at university, so giving them some smart tips on what to do and not to do while doing so and how to stay safe will give you some peace of mind and let your student know that you’re open to talking about that sort of thing in the future.

So before your student heads off to college and starts living away from home, make sure you have prepared them and taught them how to do various tasks for themselves, though as always, you’re just a phone call away to help walk them through stuff.

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