Leaving home for college can be daunting. Away from your parents, old friends, and your usual support network, it’s up to you to take care of a huge range of things you’ve never had to think about before – money, food, yourself. That means one thing: it’s time to learn all the Real Adult skills you’ve missed so far. Scary, I know. But once you’ve got these down, you can spend the rest of your time having fun, making friends and getting the knowledge you need to land your dream job.
- Learn how to budget
Accommodation, course fees, books, events, clothes, eating out and having fun can cost a lot of money. That’s why college is the perfect time to learn how to budget. Use a budgeting app to help you monitor how you spend your money, if you can. Most will allow you to list your regular monthly expenses, such as rent, alongside your daily expenses on food – that way, it’s easier to spot when you can (or really can’t) afford those big one-off expenses. Watch your bank account, and you’ll always have enough money in your wallet for late night momos.
- Learn how to cook
If you need to self-cater and you don’t want to live on dried noodles, you’ll want to know how to cook a few basic, healthy meals, even if it’s just variations on dahl and rice. Luckily, there are many easy recipes and meal plans on YouTube to inspire your inner chef. Even better, learn a couple of recipes from your parents, so that you can take the taste of home with you. You might actually find that you enjoy cooking.
- Look after your clothes
As a college student, you won’t have a lot of money to buy new clothes, which is why you need to make the ones you have last as long as possible. Whether you want to look respectable in class, trendy in a bar, or professional at networking events, you need to know how to maintain and look after your best garments so that you can wear them with pride.
You have two options here: ask your parents, or ask the internet. Either way, you will want to know how to remove ink stains from clothes after a revision session gets messy, how to iron your shirts for networking events, and (very important) what laundry labels mean, so that none of your best clothes are spoiled in the wash. You’ll also want to have plenty of storage around to keep your clothes off your bedroom floor.
- Have a routine and be organised
With the number of classes, activities and events you’ll be expected to go to, it will be easy to lose track of time. That’s why you need to find a way of organising your day. The easiest way to do this is by putting classes and events into your phone calendar and setting reminders every day – just make sure you leave yourself enough time to get where you need to go.
When it comes to revision, finding a routine that works for you is vital. If you have a tendency to overwork and lose track of time, schedule in lots of breaks and meet your friends for coffee or tea to get away from your computer. If you struggle with procrastination, try the Pomodoro Technique. This makes you work in 25 minute bursts with 5 minute breaks in between. You can download free Pomodoro technique apps or use online tools to help.
- Learn how to manage stress
College can be stressful. With all the pressure to excel in your studies and make friends, it can be a lonely and alienating experience. That’s why it’s important to look after yourself. Take regular breaks when studying, talk to your friends or family and meditate or exercise to clear your head. Even a 5-minute walk can relieve stress. Just remember that you are not alone, and if you ever feel overwhelmed, write down how you feel and talk to someone you trust.
College is an important time for building good habits. Whether it’s knowing how to remove ink stains from clothes or coming up with a personal way of dealing with stress, it’s the perfect time to gain life skills that will help you over the course of the rest of your life. After all, learning doesn’t begin and end with classes.