Life Skills You Need As You Leave High School

There are just some life skills you need to have. And heading off to college is your first big step into the world. That means you need to know how to take care of yourself before you get there. Some folks will know all of these and some won’t have a clue but this is a good starting point for making sure that you don’t crash and burn on your first attempt at leaving home, even if it is to a dorm room.

Table of Contents


You must know how to clean your own clothes. Shocker right? But you would be surprised. This means you need to know if something will get messed up in the dryer, if those jeans bleed blue onto your other clothes, and if you have an allergy to the really really cheap laundry detergent. Start washing and drying your own clothes while you are still at your house. It is way easier to figure things out there. 

Learn what the settings on the washer and dryer mean and if you need them. For me, I don’t ever use but two. Learn if everything you own can be put in the dryer or if you have to hang stuff up. Learn how to get basic stains out. Shout and Oxiclean are lifesavers. Learn to fold your stuff when it gets finished drying or face wrinkled clothes. There is nothing wrong with taking your laundry home, sometimes. But do not hold on to all your dirty stuff for a whole month and then expect mom to clean it all. Shame on you.

Change a Tire

This one might surprise you. But if you have a car, then you need to be able to do emergency maintenance on it. That means if you have a flat tire, you can’t call your dad from two states away at college and expect him to fix it. You need to be able to do it on your own. I have changed 4 of my own tires in my life and it has saved me lots of time and money. Get your dad, brother, or boyfriend to show you how it is done, or be brave and watch some youtube videos. Make sure you know where the jack is in your car, that you have all the parts, and that you know how to use it. Make sure your spare tire is in good condition and you can access it. For me, I got an extra long-handled wrench to turn the lug nuts so I have enough leverage. Gals, this can seriously make the difference between being able to do the job yourself or being at the mercy of the first passing “gentleman”. 

Take into account what would make it easier for you if a flat happened. I also have a can of fix-a-flat and an air compressor in my car, both of which have saved me on more than one occasion. Essentially make sure that you can take care of yourself should your car decide to leave you stranded.

Schedule Your Own Appointments

You are a young adult. You should be able to pick up the phone call a place of business and schedule your own appointment. This one I struggled with. Something about millennials. We don’t like phone calls. But it still needs to be done. Phone calls and making plans and appointments are a part of life. You need to come to terms with it. The only way to get comfortable with this is to do it. If phone calls are something you struggle with it is not going to be pleasant at first. You have to keep pushing yourself to do what has to be done. Don’t look for a way to order online, place an order via phone instead. You will be surprised at how fast you can improve if you push yourself.

Handle Your Own Medication

If you are on medication by the time you are this age you should be able to handle it without help from your parents. They should not have to remind you to take it or keep up with it when it is running out. Those are your jobs. You need to create a routine where you take the pills you need at the same time every day and have a calendar reminder a few days before you run out so that you can get a refill. It is not anyone else’s job to remind you to take care of yourself. That includes your meds.

Handle Your Own Money

You should not still be operating on the middle school principal of “spend it as fast as you can”. You should not have to ask your parents for cash every time you come home and you shouldn’t be relying on grandmom’s visits and the $20 she slips you to be able to afford food. You need to be aware of where your money is going each month and how you are going to pay the bills that have to get paid. You need to know what things cost and what you will have to sacrifice in order to pay for them. The sooner you figure out how to wisely handle your money the sooner you start being in control of it.

How to Feed Yourself

The older you get the less McDonald’s seems like food. You need to learn how to feed yourself as early as you can. There is nothing wrong with eating fast food some meals or cereal sometimes or soup from a can. But eventually, you are going to want to be able to actually make something that qualifies a little more lik real food. I am still a work in progress with this one. So start small. Learn to make eggs, master the grilled cheese, and become a spaghetti chef. These simple meals are still great and can become building blocks for bigger ones.

Personal Hygiene

Your momma is not gonna be at school to make sure you brush your hair, brush your teeth, and wear a clean shirt. No one is going to force you to wash your hands, shave, or clip your nails. But it will be noticed. Your roommate, your classmates, and your friends will not appreciate it. And they may not tolerate it long before ditching you. No one likes someone who always smells like BO. College kids are some of the least judgy folks on the planet. Wear a snuggie to class and no one will bat an eye. But show up a few days smelling bad or looking like you have never seen a shower and you will get a reputation. That is just how it works.

These are skills that aren’t specific to tech school, college or the work force. It doesn’t matter where you are headed once you leave high school, you need to learn and get comfortable with all these skills if you want to set yourself up for success. There is no downside to learning these skills and they will absolutely make your life easier. Learn them well and learn them early. You can thank me later.

I said you could thank me later.