You might get amazing grades in your DSEs, but just how much life experience will you bring with you to university? Do you know how to send a polite email to someone, or how a credit card works? Do you know how to deal with a really bad cold, or the flu, if you’re abroad and your mum isn’t there to take care of you? Here are seven important life skills you should learn before you leave secondary school.
1. Deal with differences the right way
How do you act when someone is differently abled? Do you know what to say (or what not to say) to a person who is blind, or in a wheelchair, without causing offence? What about someone who is gay, or who practises a different religion to you?
Make sure you come across as the friendly person you are, and not the person people might think you are if you say the wrong thing.
2. Figure out how money works
What happens when you don’t have your mum or your dad looking after your money for you? If you’re not careful, you’ll end up short of cash before the end of the month.
Figure out how much money, if any, you’ll need to pay for your tuition fees, and how long it will take to pay it back.
It might be a good idea to set budgets for how much you want to spend, or at least make a note of what you’re spending your cash on. Look up how credit cards work,
so you don’t end up owing the bank money you don’t have.
3. Learn how to take care of yourself
When you’re far from home and you fall ill, it’s up to you to get help, if you need it. Learn how to call your local clinic or doctor to make an appointment to see them, and where to pick up medicine.
However, not every illness needs a doctor or pills to fix it. It’s in your best interest to find out what foods, drinks, or actions will reduce the symptoms of something that will go away on its own. Sometimes, a good night’s rest will be all you really need.
4. Manage your homesickness
You might be desperate to leave home right now, but you’ll probably end up feeling massively homesick at some point. That’s okay – we all feel it, and it’s perfectly normal. Don’t take it as a sign that you’re not cut out to be away from home. Adult life is hard, and just as stressful as life as a student – that doesn’t change after secondary school. There will be times when you’re sad, or upset, but you have the ability to cope with it, and the ability to get past it.
5. Know what to do if you are assaulted
Would you know what to do if you, or a friend, was assaulted? You might not want to think about it ever happening to you, but you need to know who to report such a thing to.
Find out who the right person is on campus to report it to. Know where your local police station is, and your closest hospital. Hopefully, you won’t need to know how to cope with a situation like this, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
6. Manners cost nothing
We’re not talking about knowing the correct order to a full set of cutlery – we’re talking about basic things, like sending a polite email to a professor, holding the door to the library open for the person behind you, or saying thank you to the cafeteria workers.
7. Don’t expect uni life to be like it is on TV
Pitch Perfect is a fun film, but it never shows what it’s really like for a student who is up until 4am working on their essay. Sure, having fun, making friends, and gaining new life experiences is a big part of university life, but studying is a huge part of it, too.
Don’t let the assignments and deadlines come as a total shock to you – after all, you’re paying for the education and the degree, not the fun that comes with it.