So you’re headed to college and moving away from home. It’s exciting and a little nerve racking all at the same time. Do you have the basic skills in your arsenal to survive living on your own? Before you pack the first box, make sure you’ve got these essentials covered.
- Unless you’re living along, you’ll have a roommate. Are you prepared to deal with different lifestyles and beliefs? What if they are a slob and you’re a neat freak? Believe it or not, rooming situation cause some of the highest stress for first year college students. You’ll encounter bullies, deal with overnight/opposite sex guests, struggle to adapt to different routines (she’s a early bird and you’re a night owl), deal with theft and invasion of privacy. You may think just because you know your roommate that you won’t have to deal with any of these issues, but think again. When you live with someone 24/7, even best friends can get on each other’s nerves. Make a plan now for dealing with difficult situations.
- Can you handle basic household chores? Can you cook? Can you wash clothes? You may be laughing, but I’ve seen women who have no idea how to operate the coin operated washer and dryers you find on most college campuses. If your dorm or apartment is set up in suites, you’ll have your own private bedroom, but you’ll share a common living and eating area. There will be rules about the appliances you can have and operate. Some of the biggest fights I’ve seen have been over someone eating food that did not belong to them. Make sure you set ground rules right off the bat.
- Can you use a plunger? If not, learn.
- Can you make simple automotive repairs? Can you use jumper cables? Do you know how to change a tire? Do you know how to check your tires and tell if they need air? Do you know when your car needs routine maintenance, like an oil change?
- Make a budget and stick to it. Whether you’re on scholarship, have financial aid or loans, or work to put yourself through school – a budget is going to be your friend your entire adult life. Watch out for credit cards. College campuses are targets for credit card companies. You’ll see vendors giving out free t-shirts or water bottles just to get you to fill out an application. Don’t fall for it. You’ll get the card, then be tempted to use it when times get tough. Just walk away. A free t-shirt isn’t worth the 20-30% interest you’ll be paying for those concert tickets you just had to have.
Have a savings or contingency plan. Just because you have a budget doesn’t mean you won’t have things pop up you need to deal with. What if your car breaks down? How will you cover the repair? What if one of your parents lose their job? Will you have savings to help counter that loss of income? Even if you aren’t utilizing the financial aid office presently, it’s a good idea to go meet them and see what you might qualify for. Grants are great since you don’t have to pay them back. Before you drop out when the unexpected happens, reach out and see what options you have.