This year's graduates have proven their scholastic knowledge by passing exams, but do they have the necessary practical skills that will help make their lives easier once they're out on their own? There are plenty of important life skills that recent graduates have never been taught or tested on. Can they “make the grade" in common real-life situations? To find out, let's explore several skills that you'll want your grad to know before leaving home.
1. How to Care for Laundry
You might be surprised at how many high school graduates go away to college without proper knowledge of how to wash and care for their own clothes. A few basic lessons in laundry care might be in order, including instructions on separating colors and fabric types, how to load a washer, how to dry clothes properly, how to iron and fold clothes to avoid wrinkles, as well as the important distinction between hot and cold water washes. Advice on using a laundromat would also likely be helpful to dorm-bound grads.
2. How to Balance a Checkbook
Fiscal responsibilities involve more than relying on a credit card, and teaching your graduate the care-and-feeding basics of a checking account is an essential part of preparing for “real world" living. Besides understanding how to balance a checkbook on a monthly basis, grads also need to know how to actually write checks. This is becoming a lost skill among millennials.
3. How to Write a Thank-You Note
In today's world of abbreviated conversations, simple acts of tried-and-true manners sometimes slip away. What better time to remind them of the importance of writing thank-you notes than right after graduation gifts have arrived? People put a lot of time, thought and expense into selecting those gifts, and sending a handwritten thank-you note in the mail shows that that your grad values the gifts enough to take the time to reply.
4. How to Perform Basic First-Aid
Knowing basic first-aid—everything from how to clean a small cut to the ability to recognize more critical warning signs—is another incredibly valuable skill that any graduate should know and understand. This is one of those areas where someone else may have always “done it for them," but understanding basic first-aid skills (What do you do for a bee sting? What do you do for a mild skin burn? How do you remove a splinter?) is highly important for graduates to know before they move out on their own.
5. How to Do Basic Vehicle Maintenance
There's more to using a car than turning the key and cranking up some music—there's vehicle maintenance, too. And while your grad might not need the advanced mechanical skills of 50s-era sitcom teen Wally Cleaver (“Pass me the wrench, Beav"), understanding the how's and why's of basic vehicle maintenance is something that can save money—and provide peace of mind and independence—for years to come. Some car-care essentials? Your grad should know how—and how often!—to check the oil and coolant levels, how to check air pressure and treads in tires (and when to add air), how to change a flat tire and how to charge a weak battery. Whew! This may seem like a lot of tasks, but each one is fairly simple and well worth learning—whether the grad currently owns a vehicle or not.
6. How to Do Basic Home Maintenance
Eventually, your graduate will likely purchase or rent their own home, and in that case, some basic home maintenance skills can be incredibly helpful—and can save money, too! Does your grad have experience with basic home painting (walls, wood, etc…)? How about using—and accurately reading —a tape measure? Do they know how to fix a leaky faucet or a running toilet? Explore some additional skills with tools like a hammer, screwdriver, and simple wrenches/pliers and your grad will have a fine foundation of skills on which to “build" later.
7. How to Stock a Pantry—and Cook!
Being responsible for your own daily nourishment—yikes! But unless your grad can afford to eat out constantly (unlikely, and possibly not the healthiest option), some foundation skills in cooking are surely in order. Can your grad fry an egg? Put together a simple dinner? Make anything more complicated than a frozen pastry? Does your grad know the basics of smart shopping and the steps to stocking a pantry? Are they aware of how to choose and use fresh ingredients? Can they successfully balance flavors? How to dice vegetables? If they learn these skills now, graduates will definitely appreciate it later.