4 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids Before College

So, you’re off on your own now: a big girl/boy in the big world searching for big opportunities. But since you’re not living with parents anymore, you have a hefty amount of new responsibilities that many didn’t have to worry about when living at home.

Not all, but there are a lot of students that come to school not prepared for adult tasks. There are little things that sometimes just slip the minds of parents that their children need to know when living on their own.

Learn how to do your laundry

This is the most common one of all. So many students come to college and the first time they do their laundry it’s a complete disaster. Or, there is always the case where the student is so intimidated by the laundry that they don’t do it at all, and then it turns into a monster-huge load of laundry.

Some incoming freshman have been so use to the routine of having a full hamper in their room and then, like some sort of magic, it just appears all clean and folded. Mom or dad won’t be there to do your weekly laundry (it ultimately should be weekly, but I know that’s hard to do).  Ask your parents how to do this before you go off on your own.

Don’t end up like the guys on my floor my freshman year. I was doing my laundry and I walked by their room and saw them “separating” their clothes to prepare for their first time with a washing machine. Consisting of mostly red, white, and yellow, they bunched it all together and had an enormous amount of detergent to be dumped in. If you don’t know, that is not the way to go about laundry, at all.

Learn how to eat properly

Eating daily might not seem like a huge task to conquer. However, in high school, many are use to the idea of grabbing some food in the morning, having the same lunchtime every day where a bag was packed for you or a few bucks were handed to you before heading out. Then for dinner, it depends on the family, but it was provided in some way.  My mother always had a great dinner waiting for me when I got back from practice. I didn’t have to worry about choosing the right options.

In college, it is your responsibility to decide what to eat each day. This is where the freshman 15 plays a huge role too because many students tend eat whatever is fast and convenient; Ramen noodles, Easy Mac, Hot Pockets, Pizza Rolls, and all that other unhealthy microwavable junk. Even in cafeterias there’s the choice of what to eat there and many students will be overwhelmed with the options and lean towards the greasy fattening foods.

The sooner parents teach their children what to eat, the faster they will adapt to know what is best for them.

Learn how to grocery shop

Not only are you responsible for knowing what to eat but you need to know how to buy your own food as well. This might sound easy, but I was surprised with how lost I was during my first shopping trip by myself.

It’s not like I had no idea what to do, I’ve been grocery shopping with my parents before. But the thing was, I was with my parents and I just followed them with what they needed. Shopping on your own is an entirely different experience

I didn’t grocery shop a lot my freshman year since the cafeteria supplied me with food and I didn’t have a car. But when I moved into my first apartment the following year, my first real shopping trip was a disaster. I ended up with unnecessary amount of chips, dips, juices, and fresh produce (with efforts of trying to be healthy). I resorted to eating all of my junk food because my fruits and vegetables went bad within a week (what a waste). It wasn’t just that shopping trip, but I continued making this a habit by spending a lot of time and a lot of money at Wal-Mart.

Finally, my mother came to visit me and realized how awful of a grocery shopper I was. She showed me the basics of what to get every other week or so. However, my roommate, a senior about to graduate, still eats Goldfish and Doritos for meals. And relies heavily on her parents sending her food in the mail, because she still doesn’t know what to purchase at a grocery store.

 Learn how to budget

This is the most important. It really is essential for parents to sit down with their college-bound child, and discuss how to budget their expenses. Some things in life can’t be taught and you need to learn from experience, I recommend this not be one of those things.

College is already expensive enough, don’t rack of a credit card bill or use your summer-job money all in one semester. I was never taught how to budget and it was the worst ever. I ended up with a lot of overdraft fees in my first three months.

Talk to your parents about how much to spend on miscellaneous items each month. During this time they can teach you how to write checks, learn how to check your bank account religiously, and learn any other important financial information.

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Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman

Gina Stolzman is a senior at University of Iowa pursuing degrees in Journalism and English. Having a passion for food, she loves cooking and visiting restaurants. Besides cooking, you’ll find her reading, catching up on TV shows, or hanging out with friends and family. She is an enthusiastic Chicago fan. She devotes herself to “da” Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox.