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15 life skills every kid should know before they leave for college

8. How to write an essay

They won’t just be writing essays as homework, but as part of their tests. They don’t have time to write and rewrite, so they need a formula. I recommend the five-paragraph essay format, as it seems to work well for most subjects.

9. How to proofread

They won’t be able to have Mom and Dad go over their work anymore, and in college, they shouldn’t be surprised if their history or theater teachers take points off for grammar errors. They need to learn tricks for proofreading their own writing.

10. How to budget and pay bills

Even if your student has had a job before, that doesn’t mean they really know how to budget money. After all, they’ve always had Mom and Dad to back them up if they ran out. Make sure they know how to budget money for the month so they know how much Monopoly money they really have and how (and when) to pay bills.

11. How to use a credit card

Even if they don’t have one yet, the offers will start pouring in shortly after they get their own mailbox. And now that they’re adults, you have to accept that they don’t need your permission to sign up for one. Make sure they understand interest rates (which are insanely high when you’re 18 and the only thing on your credit history is the student loan you haven’t started paying back yet), when it’s OK to use the card (that is, not to buy tons of cute clothes you couldn’t otherwise afford) and when to pay them back.

12. How to send a professional email

Because let’s face it, you can’t shoot your professor a note that says “what up, Dr. B!” then forward her a roundup of Grumpy cat lookalikes from your grandma.

13. How to put on a condom

These days, many schools offer abstinence-only sex education. Even if you agree with this policy in general, it’s unlikely your student won’t become sexually active at some point (if they aren’t already) during college. If you don’t feel comfortable teaching them (or you think they’d be too mortified watching Mom put a condom on a zucchini), your local Planned Parenthood can help.

14. Basic first aid

Accidents happen, so make sure your kid knows how to administer immediate and appropriate treatment for burns and cuts in addition to CPR.

MoreI owe it to my daughter to tell her dating can turn violent

15. Basic home and car repair and maintenance

They don’t need to know how to dismantle an engine block or build an ark, but knowing basic stuff like checking (or even changing) the oil, changing spark plugs or the battery, and fixing a minor plumbing issue or the toilet isn’t just handy (and money-saving), it builds confidence.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

tattoos drawn by kids
Image: SheKnows

Originally published Oct. 2015. Updated July 2016.

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