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Going off to college is a huge step in any adolescent's life. It requires so much more than adjusting to needs of professors, course requirements, and cramped dorm rooms. It demands a set of grown-up skills that are new to most kids -- everything from sorting laundry to avoiding credit card debt. We've compiled a list of the major challenges every college-bound kid is sure to face, with step-by-step guidelines and important tips on handling each. Print this out for your child, and both of you can feel more secure and confident about the year to come!Checking Accounts
A big part of going off to college is learning to manage your money. Whether your parents are giving you a monthly allowance or you're paying your own way, you'll need to open a checking account. Here are some tips:
The minute you walk onto campus, you'll be surrounded by companies trying to hawk their credit cards. Before you sign up for anything, be aware of these credit card essentials:
Doing the laundry is not quite as easy as it looks! Here's a step-by-step guide to the world of washers and dryers:WASH
Step 1. Sort your clothes into four piles: white, dark (blues or blacks), colors, and delicates (bras, rayon, and other synthetics -- check labels!).
Step 2. Feed coins into machine (if it's coin operated), and choose temperature (hot for whites, warm for darks, cold for colors, cold/gentle for delicates).
Step 3. For front-loading machines: Fill machine with clothes, add a cup of liquid laundry detergent to detergent compartment, and start cycle.
For top-loading machines: Start cycle. When machine has 3 inches of water, add a cup of detergent. Wait until detergent disperses in water, then add laundry and close lid.
Step 5. When washer comes to a complete stop and all lights are out, take out clothes. They should be damp but not sopping.
Tips: Wash bras in a mesh bag; they wear out less quickly that way. Most silk and wool items need to be dry cleaned or washed by hand.DRY
Step 1: Sort clothes into normal heat (sheets, towels, jeans), low heat (cottons that you don't want to shrink), and hang dry (bras, rayon, spandex -- check labels!).
Step 2: Clean leftover lint from dryer's lint screen.
Step 3: Deposit coins and add laundry to dryer.
Step 4: Run dryer for 30 to 40 minutes or until dry. (Avoid over-drying -- it's hard on clothes.)
Step 5: Remove and fold promptly (or else you'll have a pile of wrinkled clothes).
If you're in the dorms and on a meal plan, cooking may not be an issue. But if you've got a dorm-suite with a kitchen, you'll want to know how to do more than pour hot water into a cup of Ramen noodles. Here are some simple dinner options:Spaghetti:
Fill large-size pot half full with water, and add a pinch salt and a teaspoon of olive oil. Bring water to boil over high heat on stovetop, then add dry pasta. Follow directions on box for cooking time (usually around ten minutes). When the time is right, test a strand of spaghetti for softness. If ready, turn off the stovetop, and strain pasta in a colander in the sink. Add butter, parmesan, and dry basil for flavor -- or a bottled pasta sauce, which simply needs to be warmed in a saucepan over medium heat.Salads:
For a basic tossed salad, buy a 10-ounce package of pre-washed lettuce, place in large bowl, and add chopped tomatoes, grated carrots, and cucumber slices. Top with a salad dressing of your choice. If you want to get more creative, make a chef's salad with lettuce, sliced ham, turkey, and avocado, and maybe garbanzo and kidney beans. For a summery salad, use fresh lettuce, sliced apples, walnut halves, a handful of dried sweetened cranberries, and toss it all in a raspberry vinaigrette.
Grate a cupful of cheddar cheese or Monterey jack. Place frying pan over medium heat, throw a flour or corn tortilla in the pan, sprinkle cheese on top of that, and cover cheese with another tortilla. Flip with a spatula until cheese is melted. Then eat!
Remember all those times Mom told you to get to bed on time, drink your OJ, and put on a jacket before walking out the door? Well, she was right. It's easy to let self-care slip when you leave home, but if you do, your health will pay the price -- not just with nasty colds but with long-term illnesses like mononucleosis, too. Here's how to take care of yourself:
Alcohol is a part of life on many college campuses. Here are a few things to remember:
Starting college is exciting and fun, but like all major life changes, it can also be stressful and emotionally challenging. You may experience homesickness or intense loneliness, or even depression. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Every college has a counseling center. You can speak to a counselor one-on-one, or join a support group -- for eating disorders, depression, alcohol abuse, and more. Sometimes just finding out that you are not alone makes all the difference. --Lilan Patri
Lilan Patri is a freelance writer and graduate student living in New York.