How’s he paying for all that? Where does he keep his wallet?

While I typically like to post the link to my posts at Student Affairs First Years, I wanted to share the full text of this one, as it was a collaborative effort. To all who weighed in on the question, thank you!

A major perk of my professional life is that I get to grocery shop regularly. Be it for an RHA program or for a service organization who will be cooking dinner at a shelter, our stringent purchasing card policies mean that when they shop, I shop. And since I shop for groceries the way many shop for clothes or shoes, this makes me very happy. However, it turned into a contemplative exercise today when Greg, the student I went with this morning, casually mentioned that this would be “good practice” for when he moves off campus next semester. I asked him to tell me more, and I learned that he never really learned how to go grocery shopping. I hadn’t realized it was a skill!

As we walked back to campus and he told me more about why he was moving off, my mind wandered to other things I’ve been told students “don’t know how to do.” I speak often of the need for a “real world” class, required for graduation, where seniors and those finishing their college careers learn the skills that we don’t already teach, but that they will need to be suc
cessful in life. I took to social media to see what else should be included in this potential course. Check out the responses, which I’ve arranged by category for your convenience! (Thanks to all who gave input, this was a fun way to spend a morning!)


  • Appropriate dress for professional situations
  • How to iron
  • How to do laundry
  • How to tie a tie and properly tuck a dress shirt
  • When is a suit buttoned v. when is it unbuttoned


  • How to change a tire
  • How to check oil


  • How to accept and manage conflict
  • How to leave an intelligible voicemail
  • How to speak on the phone
  • How to record an appropriate outgoing message
  • Learning the art of appropriate conversation (it sounds silly, but just think about what our students share with us, and how carefree they are in sharing information)
  • How to write in cursive
  • How to know when something should be spoken about in person v. an email v. a text


  • How to understand a lease
  • How to choose a primary care physician
  • How to select a retirement plan and other benefits


  • How to budget your money (among the most common answers)
  • Understanding loans and banking skills
  • How to write a check (yes, I know of students who have never done or don’t know how to do this)
  • How to responsibly use credit
  • How to grocery shop
  • How to do your taxes, if only on something like TurboTax software


  • How to contract a moving company
  • How to set up utilities
  • How to change your mailing address with the post office (I’m fighting that battle in my office right now!)
  • Tenant-landlord rights in your state


  • How to cook without using a microwave
  • The electoral college (which they should be learning elsewhere, but I like the answer!)

What other life skills should students learn about before they leave college? What do you wish you knew before you left?

One thought on “This Past Week on Student Affairs First Years: Real World 101

  1. Don't we teach students how to find this information out for themselves though? Self confidence, resilience, problem solving, and research skills.

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