Helping Them Prepare for College

Before you send them off, you might want to make sure that they know how to perform basic housekeeping and financial tasks. It helps to think reflectively about what things they will need to know when they are living on their own at the University, no longer so close to home. Remember that most schools do not cover these things. We recommend you teach them the essentials:

  1. How to do laundry – sorting darks and lights, loading the machine (UCSC’s machines are large, high efficiency, and front-loading), adding detergent, what to hang dry or dry clean.
  2. How to prepare basic meals – go over the basics of cooking and meal planning. Although students will have a mealplan, many do want to experiment with cooking or make themselves a quick late-night snack. Also make sure they understand how to tip waiters, waitresses, and pizza delivery-persons.
  3. The basics of cleaning – how to sanitize a bathroom, avoid mold growth, and reduce excessive apartment wear-and-tear. Remember that although the Residence Hall bathrooms do have custodial service, the apartments do not. Residents must work out a cleaning schedule on their own. Also let them know about the basics of food safety – when to throw away leftovers, and how to clean the kitchen to avoid pathogens.
  4. How to balance their bank registers – online banking, budget tracking, balancing their checkbook etc. Let them know about the long-term effects of overdrafts and fees. You may also want to go over security issues – what to do when their card is lost, how to keep their information protected, how to safely buy online.
  5. How to manage their credit – keeping track of their cards, avoiding new accounts, paying balances. College students are an attractive demographic to most credit companies, and as a result, students are often flooded with credit card offers. Many students can amass substantial credit card debt with little awareness of the long-term consequences of their actions. Make sure that they understand the ramifications of opening multiple accounts, missing payments, etc.
  6. How to manage their time – one of the biggest changes from high school to college academia is the timing of the classes. Before college, students have had a solid day of classes followed by an evening of homework. In college they’ll have much more “free time”, with classes intermittent during the day. Students are expected to spend multiple hours per week (10-15 per class) studying, and many times they will need to learn to do this in-between their classes.
  7. Making responsible choices around alcohol and other drugs – understanding their limits, make decisions for themselves, avoiding situations that make them uncomfortable. For more advice or information, please see Health and Wellness Resources.