Many times, going to college means “moving out.” Moving out is exciting! It means you’ve reached a new level of independence and maturity. If that is where you find yourself today, congratulations!
You’ll find that independence and maturity don’t happen magically – they require responsibility. And responsibility itself is a learning process! Have you learned the basics of living on your own? There’s a lot to learn! But don’t worry – no one expects you to know it all right away. Since we could never cover everything here, we have chosen five basic life skills that are a good idea to master before moving out on your own. Not only will these skills make your life easier, but they also have the potential to make you a better roommate and a more capable adult!
- Learn how to clean a bathroom. Traditionally, the bathroom is the room where we get clean. But in order to be able to get yourself clean, the bathroom itself must first be clean. Otherwise, it’s like washing a white shirt in the swamp. Pointless and gross. Showers, sinks, counters, mirrors, and floors – they all get nasty if you don’t clean them. And toilets… well, let’s just say that toilets need to be cleaned regularly (trust me!). And before you make excuses about not having time to clean… in reality, it only takes 3-4 minutes to clean any one area of the bathroom (provided you do it regularly and you don’t have to chisel 2 inches of grime off the tiles.)
If you’ve never cleaned a bathroom and feel the need for guidance, you don’t even have to ask your mom to teach you – you can look it up on Youtube! This one shows you how to clean a toilet in less than 3 minutes.
- Learn how to make an appointment (and keep it). No, this isn’t a joke! Have you ever made an appointment on your own? Making an appointment is simple enough, but you’ll need to know several things before making that call. For example: you’ll need to know what days/times you’re available (take into account the time it takes to get there and back), how long the appointment may last, and what kind of transportation is available to you. This applies to everything from a meeting with your professor to a job interview or doctor’s appointment. If it is a doctor’s appointment, you will likely need to have cash or a card on hand to make a payment. If you don’t make your appointment on time, the office or individual waiting for you has every right to move on. When that happens, you’ll have to reschedule, which is a big pain. Also, be aware that most medical offices charge a no-show fee. That’s an even bigger pain. Biggest lesson here: plan ahead. Do what it takes to make it there. If you don’t think you can make it, call ahead to cancel or re-schedule.
Speaking of doctors…
- Learn how to use your insurance. Let’s just be honest for a moment: health insurance is a royal pain. No one is denying that or expecting you to know all the details of your particular plan. That being said, it is highly recommended that you know your provider (name of the insurance company) and carry proof of insurance in your wallet (usually a credit-card sized card that lists all the basic information and numbers to call with questions). Do you know how to find a doctor in your insurance plan? Do you know if your plan requires a co-pay? Or is it a high-deductible plan (you pay a bit more out of pocket)? These are all things you’ll need to know when making a doctor’s appointment.
- Learn when to go to bed and the importance of getting up on time. Make yourself get up on time. You’ll be less likely to forget what you need and more likely to make a good impression (either in a class presentation or in that chance encounter with your crush). And if you budget your time well, you’ll find there is also time to goof off and have fun!
- Learn to memorize. Your social security number. Your pin number. Your bank account number. Your license plate number. Important phone numbers. Phone numbers. Think parents, siblings, and close friends. These days there is little need to commit contact numbers and addresses to memory since we can just look them up on our phones! But what if you drop your phone in the toilet? (Go ahead and laugh – you know it happens!) What if you lose it on a hiking trip or you drop it trying to take that perfect selfie at the pool and it sinks under six feet of chlorinated water? What is your backup plan for contacting family if you can’t access your phone? Knowing one person’s phone number can be a lifesaver.
Don’t let life catch you by surprise! Do your best to plan in advance so you can enjoy your independence confidently! On the other hand, try not to be intimidated by what you don’t know. Be willing to ask for help. Everyone needs help at some point. One day, you’ll be the one helping a freshman figure out their insurance card!