You’ve packed all your college freshman’s dorm needs—the new laptop, their bedding, and all their favorite outfits. Are you done with dorm essentials? Not yet! In fact, the true “dorm essentials” are the skills your college freshman needs to survive. Here are five tasks to teach them before they leave home for dorm life.
1. How to do laundry
Of course, some teens have been doing laundry for years, but others might be new to the chore. Show them how to sort their clothing by color, zip zippers, and button buttons to avoid tears and spot treat. Then discuss which items should be line dried, rather than dried on high heat. To make the chore easier, consider getting them “pod” type detergent so they don’t have to lug heavy bottles to the laundry room and back.
2. How to cook basic meals
Some dorms come complete with a kitchenette, so plan a few kitchen sessions to show them basics like how to cook an egg, make spaghetti, and bake brownies. If there are no appliances, find out if they can have a “hot pot,” which will at least allow them to boil noodles or make soup. Add in a coffee maker and a water-filtering pitcher, and their small kitchen will be good to go.
3. How to clean the bathroom (and kitchen) if you have one
Seems obvious, right? But you might be surprised that many kids don’t know which products work best. Help them select some all-purpose cleaner for counters, toilet cleaner, and shower cleaner. Give them some quick tips for a more efficient clean, like letting the product sit on the surface before wiping it away with a paper towel. Equip them with wipes so they can easily clean up small messes. And make sure they have ample trash bags; taking out the trash on a regular basis is an easy chore that will make them a model roommate.
4. How to budget
Many kids have trouble managing their money when they first move into a dorm because they are not used to juggling expenses, whether that's entertainment, groceries, toiletries or cleaning supplies. Show them how to track their receipts and find patterns in their spending that will help them project for future months. Get them a small notebook so they can easily jot down their purchases and keep track of where their money is going.
5. How to plan their time
Many teens are used to parents helping them micromanage their time—from waking them up, to shuttling them to band practice, to nagging them about reading that book for the upcoming report. Dorm life can be a rude awakening as they realize they are 100% responsible for getting to that 8 a.m. class on their own, not to mention studying and preparing for projects.
Organizational tools, such as whiteboards and calendars, can help keep them on track. Show them how to break down big projects into small steps, and note each one on their calendar so they allot ample time to get projects done well before the deadline.
Of course, for many teens these essential tasks of daily living are second nature. But if you are not sure your teen has mastered all these skills, spend time working on them before they move into the dorm. Their roommate and instructors will thank you (and they will, too!).
About the Author
Cathie Ericson is a freelance writer covering business and consumer topics. She creates branded content for Fortune 500 companies, and her work has appeared in LearnVest, Costco Magazine, Forbes, TheGlassHammer.com and IDEA Fitness. Follow her @cathieericson.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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