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By Dan Matthews
A Canadian study recently discovered that homeschoolers, when compared to their public school counterparts, generally tested roughly a half grade higher in math and two whole grades in reading. Homeschooling works, and homeschooled students are smart. But that doesn’t mean a homeschooled child is perfect, nor does it mean that they’re necessarily ready for life outside of the walls of their home. There are still some things that they need to learn before college.
If you’re a homeschooler who just graduated or is about to do so, here are a few important extracurricular skills you’re going to want to make sure you’ve covered before you head off in search of that new and exciting college experience.
It’s tempting to think advanced math skills naturally enable you to become an accountant extraordinaire, but this simply isn’t true. If you don’t take the time to learn before college about financial literacy, you’re likely to quickly find yourself swimming in debt without a plan in place to deal with it. While finances are a very broad topic, here are a few of the major financial milestones you want to cover before your first day on campus.
How to Create a Budget
Personal budgets are an integral part of a successful life on your own. Take the time to understand how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. Make sure to keep up on your budget regularly, too. Also, look for an accountability partner to help make sure you’re not wasting money that could go to better use.
How to Get Good Credit
Having a good credit score doesn’t strictly revolve around eliminating debt. In fact, having a manageable amount of debt shouldn’t impact your credit much at all. The important thing is that you pay your bills on time and avoid paying interest. Student loans can be a great source of credit building, but only if you pay your payments on time. Other forms of credit building are student credit cards, auto loans, and becoming an authorized user on your parent’s credit cards.
How to Pay Off Student Loans
While student loans can help build your credit, you should learn before college that they can also be a financial albatross if you don’t have a plan in place to pay them off. Along with making payments on time, look into ways to pay off your student loans as efficiently as possible. Consider things like:
- Refinancing your loan once you have a decent credit score.
- Putting any extra cash you receive towards your principal.
- Finding ways to rework your budget so that you can put more cash towards your loans.
Another thing to consider for life on campus is your social skills. Make sure that you’re comfortable meeting new people and maintaining healthy relationships before you find yourself in a world filled with new faces and personalities. One way you can increase your social awareness is by studying social cues. These are signals that those around you send through things like their expressions or their body language.
It can also be helpful to work on your interpersonal skills, which can be a great way to bolster your resume. This is how you interact with others. Important interpersonal skills to develop, which you should learn before college, include:
- Practicing active listening
- Expressing gratitude and appreciation
- Working to be a mediator and bring people together
- Expressing happiness and positivity regularly
- Simply smiling
Things like emotional intelligence, coordinating with others, and cognitive flexibility are all on the shortlist of soft skills that are critical to life in 2020. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you’re comfortable with socializing before you head to college.
It’s easy to feel safe online when most of your education has taken place within the security of your own home network. Once you’re on a college campus, though, it’s important to take additional steps to protect yourself from online threats.
Make sure you have antivirus software installed on your devices and keep the auto-updates on. Always look for that padlock next to the URL that shows if a site is safe or not. In addition, don’t hesitate to look up reviews of a site before entering any personal information. When you do your finances, keep an eye out for suspicious charges, as well. Finally, make sure to back up your important data regularly as you go along.
While soft skills are excellent to learn before college, it’s also beneficial to gain a solid understanding of the threat of peer pressure. The desire to fit in can be powerful, and it’s good to know when playful fun or a good time with new friends is crossing the line.
It may sound cliche, but it really is important to remember that it’s okay to say “no” to things like under-age drinking and drugs. It’s also essential to understand the concept of proper communication and sexual consent, as well as how to avoid sexual assault. Even the simple act of pulling a prank or doing risky things to impress others can quickly come back to bite you. Always think before you act.
Finally, make sure to take time to consider your transportation needs. You may not have needed to ride a bus to school thus far. However, once you start attending college, you’re going to want to make sure that you’ve figured out how to get to and around campus each day. Investigate the costs of using a rideshare app regularly or any available public transit.
If you opt to bring your own vehicle, make sure you’re well aware of maintenance needs, insurance, car payments, and what to do if you get in an accident. For instance, while you should obviously call law enforcement in the event of a serious accident, some states also require you to report the event to the Department of Transportation. In other words, do your homework!
Prepping for That College Experience
Regardless of your particular homeschooling journey, there’s a good chance college is going to be a new experience for you in one way or another. You may feel academically sharp as a tack heading into your college years, and that’s a good thing. However, it’s important to take the time to also prepare yourself in other ways for the new adventures that lie ahead.
Things like soft skills, transportation needs, fiscal literacy, and knowing how to handle peer pressure are all fundamental to the college experience. If you can arrive on campus with a firm grasp of these concepts to back up your academic prowess, you’ll dominate your college career from start to finish.