Embarking on the college journey is an invigorating and nerve-wracking thought that’s quickly approaching reality for second semester seniors. But just because you’re young and dumb and have limited experience with being out on your own, doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to somewhat prepare yourself (or at least keep you from exiting your dorm room with clothes you haven’t washed in a month and a quarter to get you through the day).
Don’t put anything aluminum in the microwave – If you think it might explode, it’s probably not worth it. That Chick-fil-a sandwich you’re too lazy to put on a plate so you throw it in the microwave with the wrapper? Yeah, don’t do that. This also includes your styrofoam-encased leftovers and porcelain plates. Basically, just have an idea of microwave safe dishes.
Don’t try to melt your ice cream in the microwave – Similar to the first one, you should know what can and shouldn’t be heated in the microwave. It’s not that these CAN’T be microwaved, but your tastebuds will thank you if you just don’t. This includes reheating french fries and coffee. However, if you’re swamped in schoolwork and already have too much credit debt to go out (we’ll get to that one later), then this might be the time to excuse yourself from this one. Just remember microwave-melted ice cream is subpar and can’t go back in the freezer, and pasta sauce makes a mess you’re guaranteed to regret.
Know how to wash your clothes – This one is so simple, yet somehow there’s a big percentage of teens who still don’t know that the hottest setting will shrink your 100% band tee perfectly for a newborn. There aren’t many other tasks in the world that are easier than this. Separate darks from lights (reds get their own pile), throw one pile in the wash, throw in some detergent and make sure you choose the right setting, and WOW, you can wash clothes. Make sure to read labels on items you’re not sure about, and don’t forget that not everything is supposed to be tossed in the dryer.
Know how to fold your clothes – Hopefully your mother taught you this prior to kindergarten, but if not, there are no words for you except figure it out fast.
Don’t put things on the internet you will regret later – As obvious as this one seems, far too many people fail to acknowledge that actions do have consequences. Your social media should reflect the things you want others to know about, and definitely shouldn’t be used as a means to make an autobiography and document your every move. If your mother would be appalled by your Instagram, any potential business you’d like to work for would most likely feel the same. What you do on your own time is your business, so keep it that way.
There’s a difference between collecting and hoarding – If you collect coins or stamps, you have a hobby. If you collect piles of takeout boxes and RedBull cans, you’re a hoarder, and a nasty one at that. Clean up and take the trash out, and if you still have too much junk, maybe it’s time to grab a friend who will help you decide what you really need and what you should’ve left behind in middle school.
Think about what you say before you say it – You kiss your mother with that mouth? There’s a time and place for everything you say, but your offensive jokes you throw around during class won’t impress your college professor or future employer, so your best bet is to keep your mouth shut.
Know how to make basic meals – If you can’t make Kraft mac ‘n cheese at this point, you’re doomed. The different oven dials have different meanings, and no, a microwave is not always a substitute for an actual oven. Cooking chicken is completely different from co
oking steak- anything besides well done is not an option…ever. You don’t have to become a french chef, but you should have at least 3 meals you can make. If that sounds impossible- good luck trying to get married.
Write thank you notes – When your grandma sends you a package, send her a thank you letter, even if you stuff the sweater under your bed where it will remain for the next 3 years. Sometimes knowing the appropriate occasion for a thank you card is the hardest part, but if it seems fitting and not out of place, trust your instinct. Unless your instincts are terrible. Then you should call you mom and ask her first.
Keep a résumé – Don’t do what you did in high school and not start your résumé until the night it’s due for your college applications. This should be something you keep up with for the rest of your life. Add (and edit) things as you gain more experience and exposure, but you will need this for almost any job you intend to have. You can delete your résumé file when you’re retired.
Manage a budget and know how much things should cost – You simply cannot eat out every meal on a college budget, so you need to make sure you have a plan before you throw yourself into chaos. Throwing away money on things like five new video games or tickets to every concert in that area isn’t going to work out so well. Unless you have an endless supply of “daddy’s money,” you’re gonna be living on ramen and the occasional chicken nuggets for the next four years, so budget accordingly. Also, shampoo should cost under $10 dollars, anything else is probably a scam- beware. You should have a general idea of the price of staple items. If you don’t, do some research so you don’t accidentally spend $15 on toothpaste.