There are so many things to do the summer before you begin college! Assuming you have already been accepted and know where you will attend, your attention may shift from submitting documents and meeting deadlines to accomplishing something on your bucket list or learning practical life skills.
When it comes to life skills, there are so. many. things. to learn! Where to begin? We suggest to start with the following three ideas. Two are very practical skills and one is meant to develop your character and intuition.
Learn how to change a tire.
This is for absolutely anyone who owns (or uses) a car. Guys AND girls. You never know when you’ll accidentally run over a nail or hit a pot hole just a little too hard. Knowing how to change a flat tire can save you both time and money.
If you already know how to change a tire – good for you! If not, make it a point to learn how to do it safely. Set up a time with a friend, parent, or mentor who knows what they’re talking about. Ask them to give you a crash course (no pun intended), and then practice a few times. Take the tires off your car and put them back on. Learn where your spare tire is stored in your vehicle and if it includes a jack or any other tools (every vehicle is different). Learn how to identify a problem tire – are there any visible bumps, frays, or debris lodged in the tire treads? Are the treads worn too low? Does your car ride feel bumpy? These could all be symptoms of a sick tire.
Learn how to budget.
It doesn’t have to get complicated. Sure, spreadsheets and calculators could help you get super accurate and look impressive. But in reality, your expenses will be fairly simple at this point in your life and will likely fit into the following five categories:
- Basic living expenses (things like toothpaste, school supplies, and your phone bill)
- Vehicle maintenance (gas, oil changes, campus parking fees etc.)
- Housing (this might be included in your school bill, or it might be eliminated altogether if you live with your parents and commute)
- School expenses (this could include your main school bill, technology fees if required, printer paper/cartridges, athletic fees, etc.)
- Food. Your meal plan may or may not be lumped in with your school bill.
- Recreation. You could put anything that isn’t an actual necessity under this category. A gym membership, your 9am coffee run, shopping sprees, snacks not included in the meal plan. (Yes, that daily afternoon protein bar could qualify as food, but if it is in addition to your meal plan it may count as a luxury. Unless you require that extra expense for medical reasons, your meal plan is the priority.)
Either way, keep in mind that any food you purchase should be accounted for under this heading – a bag of Cheetos. Your 9am coffee run. The protein bar you munched on as you walked to class.
Categorize your expenses, and make sure to prioritize accordingly. Basically, make sure that the “Recreation” category does not take precedence over the others!
Learn how to choose friends wisely.
Choosing friends wisely will be more important than ever. In elementary school it was important; in high school it was crucial; in college it can be detrimental.
Friends have more influence that you realize, and college life will likely provide more freedom than you have enjoyed up to this point in your life. Be shrewd, be wise, be selective. This is not license to be rude, but it is a reminder that you absolutely have veto power over your social relationships. You can decide how to manage your down time and you will reap the consequences — be they positive or negative!
Not sure you trust yourself to make the best choice in this area? Enlist a trusted mentor who does have that wisdom to hold you accountable. And if they call you on a decision, listen to their advice!