7 underrated but essential life skills to teach teens before they go to college

Schools will teach your teen about important subjects such as math and science, but there’s another school parents and teachers may forget in their quest to encourage exam success: the school of life.

These are crucial, yet often overlooked skills students need to learn as they grow into young adults.

Situations such as, ‘What happens when you spill bleach on your jeans? What are the clothing items that should never go in the dryer? Can you whip up a simple but fulfilling meal from scratch, rather than splash out on a high-cost but low-nutrition meal? What do you do if you’ve lost your debit card?’, are some of the things they can expect to face once living on their own.

So, how do you prepare your offspring for adulthood? Here are some suggestions:

Cooking skills

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The ability to feed oneself is often underrated, but parents or guardians should teach their teens easy recipes to get them comfortable in the kitchen. It’s also worth exploring cooking hacks through rice cookers or microwaves so they’ll always be able to enjoy a comforting meal without breaking the bank.

Apart from learning to make some simple favourites, it’s also important to teach your teen how to pick vegetables from the market and how to keep them fresh.


If your teen doesn’t do laundry, it’s time to show them the ropes. Tell them what needs to be hand-washed, what items should never go in the dryer, and all the other fine print.

They should also learn how to iron their clothes, especially shirts for interviews, while basic sewing skills like how to sew a button wouldn’t go amiss.

Managing one’s finances

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It’s easy to take things like money for granted when living under someone else’s roof.

But if your child had never worked while he or she was in school and always turned to you for money, now’s the best time to teach them about managing their finances before they head off on their own.

This includes how to stick to a budget, manage needs and wants, how to make online bill payments, how to use a credit card (along with its interest fees, minimum payment, etc.), putting money aside for emergencies, and the like.

Writing a professional email

Your teen may be a digital native but that doesn’t mean they know how to send a professionally-worded email.

Going into college, you can expect your child to engage in more professional comunication via email – be it with their professors, for internships or part-time jobs, so it helps to coach them how to do so.

Writing a résumé

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In a similar vein, part of adulthood means getting a job, be it part-time or full-time, for your child to support him or herself.

Naturally, employers would want a résumé to see your teen’s academic background and experience (i.e. work or volunteer), so it’s important for them to learn how to make it look attractive.

Cleaning hacks

Everybody needs shelter – and one that’s clean and tidy!

So, before your teen moves out to live on their own or into a shared accommodation, its essential they know how to keep their unit clean to ensure they not only maintain their deposit but live in a hospitable home that isn’t a breeding ground for bacteria.

Share your pearls of wisdom and cleaning hacks and they’ll be well on their way towards becoming a domestic god or goddess!

Basic first aid

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What should your teen do if they have a cut or injury?

There are organisations like the American Red Cross or the British Red Cross that offer programmes such as first aid and CPR that can equip them with the skills needed in an emergency.

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