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The 4.0 All College Students Should Achieve

40 things students need to know by the time they leave college.

As a college professor who has taught for 20 years, I have marveled at the remarkable life experiences of some of my students, the ways that they have shown resilience and strength during incredible hardships, and then I find myself simultaneously stunned by the little and big things they don’t know. I have compiled a list and hope that parents will encourage their college age students to consider these:

Source: Neaners/

1) How to address an envelope...and how to write effectively and compellingly for whatever is going in the envelope.

2) How to send an e-mail to someone in a position of authority, such as a professor or prospective employer or boss.

3) How to write a cover letter and how and where to sign one.

4) How to scan a document and how to send an attachment in e-mail.

5) Not to leave a garage door closed with the ignition on.

6) How to answer a landline and how to use call waiting on a landline.

7) When to turn off the cell phone.

8) How to write a good thank you note and the importance of expressing gratitude.

9) When not to text and when to call.

10) How to look for answers before asking questions—or example, reading through a course syllabus very thoroughly before asking questions that are carefully covered in the document.

11) When to seek medical help.

12) How to put on a condom (men and women!).

13) How to do laundry and how often to change the bed linens.

14) How to make a few different kinds of simple meals—i.e., scrambled eggs, pasta, rice, etc.

15) How to drive. (Some kids growing up in dense urban areas with great access to mass transportation may not bother to get a license but regardless, everyone should, for safety’s sake when out with friends.)

16) How to pump gas and check your oil.

17) How to swim—both for social reasons and for safety reasons.

18) How to make coffee.

19) How to drive in a different climate if they are moving far away (such as from the south to the snow).

20) How to advocate for one’s own health care, both for the body and for mental health care.

21) How to effectively use some sort of an organizational tool such as a paper calendar, planner, phone app, etc.

22) How to change a flat tire or join AAA to have access for help when traveling.

23) How to shake hands with someone firmly while looking the person in the eye.

24) How to apologize with care and integrity.

25) How to ask for help—from a professor, from a counselor, when needing a favor, when in harm’s way, etc.

26) How to fill out forms at a medical office and how to have all the correct information handy to do this.

27) How to open a bank account, use an ATM card, write a check, and make and live on a budget.

28) How to apply for a job and how to do the necessary follow up.

29) Develop good table manners.

30) How to dress appropriately for a job interview; for young men, this includes learning how to tie a tie.

31) How to manage stress and how to appreciate and relish in solitude, stillness, and silence----through meditation, yoga, exercise, a hobby, etc.

32) How to cultivate a passion or hobby.

33) How to manage their social media presence responsibly.

34) Learn to read for pleasure.

35) Learn how to handle difficult conversations; for example, when breaking up with someone, know that the only way to do that with integrity is to do it face to face.

36) How to tell time on a clock that is not digital and has no numbers and how to read maps; Siri is not always correct and sometimes there’s no signal.

37) Be a little daring once in a while; step out of your comfort zone.

38) Remember the phone number of a good friend; don't rely on it always being in your phone.

39) You will be sad sometimes, and that is ok.

40) Learn to distinguish between real news and fake news; get your news from many different sources and not just social media.

Extra credit: Did I miss anything? Please send me a note if there’s something you would like to add. In addition, if there’s a topic you would like to see discussed in a future article, please let me know.

More from Deborah J. Cohan, Ph.D.
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