Do today’s students have these Life Skills Before Setting Off for College?

With many students starting college this month and observing how my own wife and some relatives and friends treat their kids I found this story very interesting. Do we try to do “to much” for our kids? I remember my daughter in her third year of college asking her mom why the tuna fish she tried to make was “runny”? She never was taught that it needed to be drained.

Do you agree or disagree with this article and are there items you would add? I added two.

In this article in School Administrator, Julie Lythcott-Haims describes catching herself as she leaned over the dinner table to cut her 10-year-old’s meat. Could it be that the lack of independence and agency she observed in students when she was a freshman dean at Stanford University could be traced back to parents doing too much for their children?

With that thought in mind, she compiled a list of basic competencies that every young person needs by age 18:

• Talking to strangers – Dealing respectfully with store clerks, landlords, bank tellers, health care providers, bus drivers, mechanics, teachers, deans, or advisers – with good eye contact – is an important life skill. Perhaps parents spend too much time warning kids not to talk to strangers, versus the more-nuanced skill of picking out the few bad strangers from all the others – and dealing appropriately with the latter.

• Finding their way around – Kids are driven too much, says Lythcott-Haims. They need to know how to get places, make travel plans, and deal with transportation snafus.

• Managing assignments, workloads, and deadlines – Adolescents must learn how to prioritize tasks and get things done without constant reminders.

• Contributing to a household – In addition to getting their schoolwork done and participating in extracurricular activities, kids need to do their fair share of chores and respect the needs of others.

• Handling interpersonal conflict – Teens shouldn’t always need adults stepping in to solve misunderstandings and soothe hurt feelings.

• Coping with life’s ups and downs – This includes dealing with tough teachers and principals, bullies, competition, and challenging academic work.

• Earning and managing money – Adolescents need part-time jobs with a boss who doesn’t necessarily love them, to learn about completing job tasks, accountability, and appreciating the cost and value of stuff they want.

• Persistence – Kids need a “wise understanding that success comes only after trying and failing and trying again,” says Lythcott-Haims. They need grit, thoughtful risk-taking, and resilience.

. I’d add two more from experience

Basic cooking ability – know how to use a can opener, cook eggs,toast, veggies, make coffee ( yes that includes using a Keurig), drain tuna and even be able to make cookies or cupcakes.

Basic laundry – How to separate clothes, why you need laundry detergent and how to know how much to use, why dryer sheets and the need to fold or hang right away.

“Remember, our kids must be able to do all of these things without calling a parent on the phone,” she concludes. “If they’re calling us to ask how, they do not carry that life skill.”

2 thoughts on “Do today’s students have these Life Skills Before Setting Off for College?

  1. My 2 cents~ TIME MANAGEMENT ~is paramount in college (and life). Also, don’t expect your professors to “care” about you. It is your responsibility to show up for class and do the work. They get paid whether or not you show up and aren’t there to lead you by the hand or be a surrogate parent. Learning is on YOU, as the student. If you want to waste $ and time being a professional student, good luck. Eventually, you have to pay the money back. Also, go to an affordable college for your Bachelors degree, then, if you want to work while getting your Masters or continue college, pick the more “prestigious” ( i.e. expensive) school. Unless you’re a genius and get free tuition anyone hiring you will look to see you have the degree over the school. (unless it’s Bently for finance, then it matters! lol) Also when you get a job they may help pay for your Masters degree. All this leads to : MONEY MANAGEMENT~ work part time or do a work study program for your spending money. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Great life lesson, especially for kids who have parents who are also bad at managing money and those that “give” them money. Neither are helpful to your kids in “real life”. Open a checking or savings account and learn to budget. Learn how to shop for groceries, iron, clean your living quarters, go to your own Dr. appointments and make a damn bed while you’re at it too!

  2. Interesting post! I have to say as a graduate student, one thing that I always considered was ‘it is just plain common sense’ however, it is not. Things that we automatically assume, such as draining the tuna are not common sense. I only drained the tuna when I made a sandwich. The things we do for our children (yep I have two) are our faults as much as theirs, for not showing them or explaining to them what or why we do things. We do this with co-workers, why not our kids? As far as learning to navigate, I believe in getting out the map, understand it, even if you don’t utilize it, understand it. So as far as doing too much for our kids and people saying millennial expect things…take a look in the mirror we taught them and guided them to expect that. Not all are like this and those are the exceptions and the ones that will lead and guide others.

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