Seniors should know these life skills

Life skills you should know before graduating high school

Alexus Cleavenger and Savannah Upson

Packing away the last box of clothes from his empty room, alumni Johnny Jackson was ready to live on his own. Excitement filled the empty room. He knew he was taking his first step as an adult. As he arrives at his dorm at UCF, he easily unpacks his stuff, sets it up, and settles for a nap. 

Whether you are ready for college move-in day or scared to leave your childhood behind, starting your life after high school is a big step. You are embarking on a new journey, and there are life skills you should know before graduating high school. Seniors, keep reading if you want to know the life skills you should know upon entering the real world.

How to build credit starting right now 

Before you can buy your own car or apartment, you need to start by building your credit. You need to remember that long-term responsibility is required. You should not spend more than you can pay off per month. The first step to building your credit is to obtain a credit card under your name. 

Authorized User

If you are not 18 yet, but still want to start building your credit there is an option for you. You can be added to one of your parent’s credit cards. Although you will not be the primary cardholder, you are still able to use the card and it can help boost your credit.

Secured credit card

Once you turn 18, you can start building your own credit. An option for building credit is obtaining a secured credit card. With a secured credit card, you are required to pay an upfront deposit to open the account. With this your card is tied to hard cash, however, you are still able to make monthly purchases, like a normal credit card. 

Student credit card

If you are not ready for a secured credit card, there is another option for you. For college students, a student credit card works the same as a regular credit card but has more incentives. These cards have low or nonexistent annual fees and benefits for students. This option works the same for building credit. 

Signing a lease on a car or apartment

After hours of looking at apartments or test driving on a car lot, you found the perfect one. The first step to signing a lease is to document the condition before signing the lease. You should do a final walk-through and take pictures. Save those photos for when you go to move out as evidence of the state of move in. Otherwise, you may be charged for damages incurred before you moved in. You should also bring a photo ID to present, proof of employment and a checkbook. 

Your first place

Living on your own for the first time is a life changer. You are responsible for making your own decisions. You are in charge of your own household and how you want to run it. When sharing a living space with a roommate, you should assign responsibilities, learn how to budget your money and set expectations for the living space. Before living on your own, you should consider the following to make living on your own one less stress.


If you are sharing your first place with a roommate, there are adjustments that will be made. One of the most important things is communication. You should be communicating with your roommate to ensure you are on the same page as them. 

Setting Rules/Expectations

When it comes to responsibilities, everyone should be in charge of cleaning up after their own mess. Your parents are no longer around to nag you about cleaning the dishes or picking up the mess in your room. You need to have discipline and consider these tasks as a job now. The best way to have an organized living space is to make a list of rules for everyone to follow. One way to do this is to assign a weekly checklist of chores. Along with chores, you should create a list of expectations. Here is an example of questions you can  address on the list:

  • Will you buy your own food or will all food costs be shared?
  • Is borrowing food acceptable?
  • Can you borrow personal items?
  • What time is it reasonable for the living space to be quiet during the week? On the weekend?
  • How many visitors are allowed at a time and how often?
  • At what times are visitors acceptable for studying and/or social purposes? Is it different on weeknights and weekends?

Grocery shopping/Budgeting

Unless you want to eat Ramen Noodles for every meal, one key to living on your own is to understand a budget when grocery shopping. When creating a weekly grocery list, you should first determine how much your weekly spending cost is. Once you determine how much you can spend per week there are ways you can help keep your receipt under that number.

Make a meal Plan

If you want to avoid eating out every night, meal planning is something to consider. There are different types of meal prep you can do such as cooking an entire meal to freeze, meals for one, and ingredient prep. The best option is to prepare a meal for one. With this, you can prepare food on Sunday of every week and portion it in single-serving containers. This option will save you money and last a couple of days.

Buy in bulk

Weekly grocery shopping might be a hassle if you never have the time. One way to save money and limit the number of times you go to the store per month is to buy in bulk. Stores like Publix typically have BOGO deals multiple times per month. Or you can buy all your groceries in bulk at stores like Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s club. Aldi stores charge less but bring your own reusable bags and a quarter for the shopping carts. 

Shop at more than one grocery store

If all your life you spent going on Publix shopping trips with your parents, you may not be a custom to another option. However, there are other options to get groceries that may even be cheaper to fit your budget. Try to shop at other grocery stores like Walmart, Target or Winn-Dixie. You might find that groceries are cheaper at one store compared to another. 

Smaller skills 

Getting sick

It is flu season again, and you are prone to catching a strand of the virus. While living on your own, you must know how to get the proper care when you are feeling under the weather. The first thing you should do if you get sick is to determine the severity. If you just have the sniffles, over the counter drug store medicine will work, however, if it is something more serious you need to be able to contact a doctor. Many colleges offer discounted doctors appointments on campus. Learn your options ahead of time. 

Signing in cursive

You are signing your name after tipping the waiter at a restaurant or you are signing the lease to your new car, a signature is a part of everyday life. You need to know how to sign your name. Learning full cursive may not be super important for life, but memorizing a good signature for yourself is essential. 

How to write a check 

You may rarely pull out a checkbook, however, there are some moments in life when you will need to write a check. The first step to writing a check is filling out the date at the top right-hand corner. Following, you need to have the person or company you want to pay. After those are filled out, you should fill out the amount you are paying in both numbers and words. Then the last required step is a signature. It’s also good to keep a check in your wallet at all times. 

For a visual step-by-step, click this link

And remember, don’t panic. Parents are still a phone call away. There are Google and YouTube for how-tos and new concepts. Becoming an adult doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve got this.