pastel fence boards Does Your Teen Know These 5 Essential Skills

Does your teen know these 5 essential skills before heading to university? These five skills are critical for your teen’s success as a college student. What are these skills? Read on and find out! Help your teen prepare for this significant change in his life!

Dark green infographic listing 5 essential skills for older teens

5 Essential Skills: #1 – Time Management

Starting college or university is a significant change from being homeschooled! No one is interested in planning your life for you, so you must learn to do that yourself. Probably the biggest challenge is choosing how to spend your time wisely.

Use a Planner

A planner will help you keep track of your life and all the demands on your time. That is, a planner will help if you use it! So, pick a planner and learn how to use it! You can choose paper planners, digital planners, or even a combination. However, select something that will work for you and that you will USE!

If you have never used a planner before, here are some suggestions to make a planner work for you:

  • Enter every due date for every assignment.
  • Enter all your days off, vacation, or break days.
  • Also, include your daily class schedule.
  • List every test and exam on your planner as soon as you know about them.
  • Enter any work schedules – days and times.
  • Include any bill payments in your planner. (Tuition, rent, credit cards, phone bills, insurance bills, etc.)
  • Color-code your planner – Assignment due dates in one color, bills to pay in another color, work times in a 3rd color, and so on.
  • Take your planner with you everywhere!
  • Refer to your planner ALL the time!

A well-designed and well-used planner can help you meet deadlines, keep you from missing bill payments, and help you to stay organized.

Academics before Pleasure

Going to college or university will bring new experiences and opportunities into your life. You will have so many options for what to do! There will be parties, athletics, meetings, leadership training, concerts, socializing, work opportunities, and fine arts – the list is endless!

But don’t forget the main reason you are at school! Don’t lose sight of the academics. If you (or your parents) are putting out big bucks to go to school, you should do just that – go to class! Your academic success should be your priority when you head off to university!

Your classes are supposed to prepare you for your future. You are in school to learn. So, focus on the learning! Do your assignments. Show up in class and pay attention. Get your projects completed on time. Don’t neglect the academics in favor of the fun stuff!

Don’t Overschedule

So much to do and so little time! That seems to be a true statement for every college student I have ever known! So, learn not to overschedule yourself. Easier said than done, I know! How to do that? Consider these suggestions:

  • Refer to your planner!
  • Figure at least two hours of study/homework for every hour in class.
  • Remember, tasks usually take longer than you think they will!
  • Check your planner!
  • Don’t forget to schedule in “transport” time – How long will it take to get from point A to point B?

Sleep Matters

Going to college, working with a full academic schedule, being involved in anything extra-curricular – none of that helps you get enough sleep. Assignments, deadlines, due dates, rehearsals, work schedules, roommates – all these things are part of university life, and they all work against getting enough sleep! What’s a college student to do?

Sleep is essential for good health and helps you function throughout the day. Sleep-deprived existence does not, and never will, equate with giving your best at anything. Schedule your life, your classes, your work schedules, your homework times, all around getting adequate sleep. Why?

Sleep deprivation will keep you from doing your best at anything – job, schoolwork, sports, even relationships!

5 Essential Skills: #2 – Personal Health

Teens and young adults often live with the idea that they are invincible. You are young and strong; nothing ever gets you down or stops you. I have news for you – if you don’t take care of yourself, those healthy days may disappear sooner than you think! Never neglect your health! You should value your health and do everything within your ability to stay healthy. How does that work?

Eat Right

A daily diet of pizza, donuts, and sodas will not feed your body correctly. Instead, focus on fruits and vegetables, proteins, and water. Lots of water! The foods you eat will affect your health and well-being. Eat nutritious foods!

Personal Cleanliness

Keep yourself and your space clean. Filth and garbage breed germs, bacteria, mold, etc. And guess what? None of those things are good for you! You don’t need to become a germophobe but clean up after yourself. Empty your trash. Clean your bathrooms! Do your laundry. Wash your sheets.


Being a student involves a LOT of sitting! And that is not good for your overall well-being. Schedule some time into your day for exercise. Not an athlete? Not into exercise? That’s okay – walk! Walking is an excellent form of exercise, and it will also help to clear your mind so you can focus better on your upcoming tasks. For many of us, exercise is not part of our lives, and we pass over it in favor of more pressing items on our to-do lists. Schedule some active time in your planner. Just 15 or 20 minutes of daily walking will help you stay healthier.


We already mentioned the importance of sleep, but I will repeat it! Go to bed! Get some sleep!

  • Lack of sleep affects your immune system, making you more prone to catching whatever diseases are going around.
  • A lack of sleep affects your safety – you are not as aware of your surroundings, and your safety will suffer.
  • Sleep deprivation will keep you from doing your best at anything – job, schoolwork, sports, relationships!
  • Not getting enough sleep can easily affect your mood, cause anger issues, and defeat any chance of a positive outlook on your day or life. SLEEP!

5 Essential Skills: #3 – Relationship Building

College days are times for building relationships with others. You may make friends for life, make connections that will help you in your future professional years, and even find a spouse. You will make connections with people around you, and you will develop relationships with professors and roommates. Some will be passing, short-term relationships, while others will last for years. How well do you do at building relationships with others?

In all things, honor God, honor (respect) others, and honor (respect) yourself!

Remember this statement in every relationship: Honor God, honor (respect) others, and honor (respect) yourself. Always start by honoring God!

How do you honor God?

  • Be faithful in reading God’s Word. Yes, even during your busy college years, reading God’s Word is essential for you to be a successful follower of Christ.
  • Be obedient to God’s commands. Yes, even when that is hard, even when it is unpopular.
  • Stand up for what is right and good.
  • Find and faithfully attend a good church.

How does God want you to treat others? Here are five simple instructions to get you started.

  • Be ye kind one to another. (Eph 4:32)
  • A man that hath friends must show himself friendly. (Prov 18:24)
  • Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. (Col 4:6)
  • Walk honestly (I Thess 4:12)
  • Love one another (I John 4:7)

How do you honor or respect yourself?

Honoring or respecting yourself comes in many forms. Too often, we let this slide, and that, in turn, leads to unpleasant results. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Take care of your physical, spiritual, and mental self. And yes, these are often connected or interrelated.
  • Know what you believe and why, and then stand firmly for those beliefs.
  • If you feel uncomfortable about a situation or relationship, leave it!
  • Stand up for what is right.
  • Live your beliefs and convictions; don’t compromise your standards to make someone happy.
  • Choose your friends wisely. You don’t need to be in with the most popular crowds. Surround yourself with others who share your beliefs and want to stand for what is right and good.
  • Be gracious and friendly to all you meet, but select your good friends based on their character.

5 Essential Skills: #4 – Keeping Your Space Clean and in Good Order

Keeping your space clean and organized will save you time, hassles, embarrassment, and headaches. Guaranteed! Who has extra time to look for keys or books?

Laundry –

I hope you know how to do laundry before you go to university! Please! Speaking as a mom – do not expect your mother to do your laundry for you. Grow up, get your act together, and do your wash!

Organization –

Keep your stuff organized. You’ve heard the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” There is so much truth and value in that statement! Get your things organized on your first day in the dorm or apartment. Then, always put your stuff in the places delegated for them. Surprise! You will be able to find what you need when you need it!

  • Organize your room.
  • Organize your backpack.
  • Organize your desk.
  • Organize the files on your computer.

Clean –

Keep your spaces clean! You will feel better when your room is clean. Don’t believe me? Try it and see! You will not feel as scattered or frustrated when your space is uncluttered. Please keep it clean, whether that space is your dorm room, backpack, or bathroom sink!

5 Essential Skills: #5 – Keep Yourself Safe

Your safety should always be a priority, no matter where you are. Please, don’t take risks with your well-being.

Learn to keep yourself safe.

  • Don’t take unnecessary risks.
  • Don’t put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
  • Know where to go or how to get help.
  • At night or after dark, stay in well-lit areas as much as possible.
  • Consider carrying a whistle or mace to help protect yourself.

Learn to keep your stuff safe.

Many kids move from rural areas to larger cities for college or university. Don’t bring all your rural thinking with you. Theft happens – try not to let it happen to you!

  • Learn to lock your doors – car, room, etc.
  • Don’t leave backpacks or computer bags unattended. Please don’t make it easy for someone to steal your stuff!
  • Know what to do or who to report to if your things go missing.
  • Let me repeat it – learn to lock your doors!

Moving from homeschool to university can be a HUGE adjustment! But it doesn’t have to be a horrible adjustment. Some commonsense principles, some basic organization techniques, and some planning can help this adjustment go smoothly. Use your time wisely, and have a great semester in school! Wishing you all the best –

Carol Rhine Rhine Home School Services

Did you miss the first two posts in this series? Find them here:

Does Your Teen Know How To Manage Money?

Why Your Teen (and You) Need to Know About Insurance

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