Life Skills Your College Student Needs To Know

By the end of the month, new college freshmen will descend on their schools of choice and move into their new dorm rooms and apartments. But are they ready? Here are the very basic life skills a new college freshman should know before going off to school. If you are a student, find a friend or parent to show you how to do these things. If you are a parent, make sure your child knows these things before going to school this fall.


  • To get:
    • A checking account
    • a savings account
    • a credit card (Many banks have programs to help college students get credit cards. And while students need to avoid running up credit card debt, they desperately need to start building their own credit before leaving college in four years. Do it asap.)
    • Rental Insurance (if they are leasing a private room or apartment)
  • To know:
    • How to balance a bank account
    • How to make a budget
    • How to pay bills
    • How to contact the insurance agent

YOUR PERSON: The Feeding and Caring Thereof

  • To Get:
    • Health insurance (Some parents can keep their dependent college students on their family health insurance plan. If not, most schools have student health insurance plans.)
    • Dental plan
    • A primary care doctor (most campuses have a student health services center.)
    • A copy of medical records and vaccination records
    • List of doctors, major diagnoses, medications (if you have complex health needs, make sure to carry a list of medications, diagnoses, and doctors on your person at all times. This could save your life in the event of a health emergency.)
    • Gym membership (most colleges have the gym membership included in student fees. Decide if the services provided are sufficient for your needs.)
    • Spiritual and/or mental wellness services
  • To Know:
    • How to make a doctor’s appointment
    • How to do grocery shopping
    • How to cook (basics: cleaning and cutting vegetables and fruits, boiling rice and pasta, cooking meat, storing food safely).
    • How to do laundry and iron clothes
    • How to manage time
    • How to report a crime
  • To Discuss (You might not want to, but do it anyway.)
    • Consent, safe sex, stalking, sexual harrassment, domestic violence
    • Partying and drinking safely / The Buddy System
    • Finding and supporting friends; dealing with and avoiding toxic people


  • To Get
    • A Metro pass
    • Uber/Lyft rideshare apps
    • a car (if needed)
    • Google Maps app
    • Car Insurance with roadside assistance (if they have a car)
  • To Know
    • How to read a map
    • How to use public transportation
    • How to use a rideshare or taxi safely
    • How to fill a car with gasoline
    • When and how to schedule car maintenance
    • What information to collect after a car accident
    • How to file an insurance claim

Do you have other ideas of very basic life skills a new college student should know? Share them in the comments below.


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