Yikes! We’ll be launching our last chick out of the nest in a matter of months. With each of our kids, after Christmas of senior year, I start to panic a little, feeling overwhelmed by all of the things we MEANT to teach.
So I came up with a list of five skills every college student needs and two honorable mentions . . .
- Talk to adults well. This is a biggie. Kids, students, and young adults who can carry on meaningful conversations with adults find themselves with more opportunities. Period. Whether it’s a summer internship, an extra “grace point” that impacts a GPA, or permission to date a daughter, conversation and communication skills can be dealmakers or deal breakers.
- Change a tire. Regardless of gender, this is a big deal. However, for a guy it’s a bigger deal because there is the whole “damsel in distress” thing. Every guy likes to be a rescuer on some level. Even for our girls, knowing how to find the spare tire, the jack, and get the job done might come in handy. At the very least, they need to know exactly what they should do if they have a flat tire (have AAA or Hero help numbers plugged into their phones).
- Jump-start a car. The tire thing might be a stretch, but knowing how to jump-start a car with a dead battery is a must. It’s a simple process, doesn’t require heavy lifting, and will undoubtedly be needed numerous times throughout their lives. A set of jumper cables from my dad one year for Christmas was probably one of the most practical and useful gifts I’ve ever received. Added bonus: they learn how to pop the hood.
- Quick-press or steam a shirt. You know the feeling. You’re 20 minutes from needing to head out the door, and you realize that the shirt/blouse you need to wear is in the bottom of a bag or is wrinkled beyond acceptability (happens to college boys weekly!). Most guys under 21 will just wear it as is, unless they’re headed to an interview or to meet a girl’s parents for dinner. Therefore, this skill is imperative.
- Make one real meal. I have to confess that the “young mom” me assumed that each of my kids would be a culinary master, along with mastering most other skills known to man. But the “older mom” me is just glad they’re still in one piece and were accepted to college somewhere. Knowing how to make one real meal, as in spaghetti, salad, and a store-bought loaf of Italian bread, will definitely come in handy.
Okay, there are two more, so I’m calling them honorable mentions.
- Write a check. In this day of quick debit-card swipes, kids rarely learn to use a checking account and even less frequently learn to write checks. However, as they lease apartments, have roommates, and need to split utilities, they really need to be able to write checks—yes, the paper kind.
- Understand table settings. The knife goes on the right side of the plate with the blade facing the plate; the spoon partners just outside of the knife; and the fork is on the left, atop a folded napkin. No need to worry too much about multiple forks, spoons, and knives, although it would be great for them to understand that as well. While we’re at it, you know all too well how embarrassing it can be when you’re not sure which bread plate is yours at a formal dinner. Just teach ‘em BMW—bread, meal, water. Simple left to right. So, the bread plate on the left is always the one to use.
Leave a comment if you have your own “must-know-before-college” idea. Please hurry. I only have a few months left!