For many high school seniors, the countdown has begun. It's only a matter of months now until girls and boys head off for college to learn all there is to know about anatomy, philosophy, and throwing up in the back of a cab at 2 a.m. It's a special time. But, as fun and awesome as it is, there's still some preparation that needs to be done ... preparation that goes beyond the purchase of extra-long twin sheets.
Since I a) was once a teenager, b) went to college, and c) am a lady person, here are 8 things teen girls need to know how to do before leaving home and entering the dorm.
- Buy tampons. A friend of mine freshman year was too embarrassed to purchase tampons, citing that they'd always just been under her bathroom sink her whole life. That sounds glorious and convenient, but make sure your daughter isn't embarrassed by this simple purchase. There are way more humiliating experiences than sliding a box of supers across a store counter, such as asking your roommate to buy them for you.
- Use birth control/know how it works. Make sure they know how a condom works, how birth control pills work, how STDs are contracted, and how GD fertile they are at their age. The more they know, the better -- they really can't know too much.
- Have a direct but kind conversation with a friend. This is a toughie, but if you practice enough at home, your daughter will be a stronger communicator and better friend in college. Many female friendships are tested when apartments are shared, and the more prepared she is to speak her mind in a calm, direct, yet kind tone, the better off she'll be.
- Make healthy food-choices. It's not about avoiding the freshman 15, it's about knowing how food works. Teenage girls can have especially harried relationships with food from over-eating to under-eating to over-obsessing to everything in between, so make sure she feels comfortable acknowledging her connection to food and has the skills to talk about it without shame or shyness.
- Do a load of laundry. Never too early to learn that one, if you ask me.
- Walk in a room with confidence. College is chock-full of firsts, most of which are intimidating and/or exciting. Body language sends a loud and clear message, so ensure your daughter knows what signals she's putting out. She should never underestimate the power of great posture, even when she wants to curl up in a ball under the table.
- Manage her bank account. I don't care who's paying for what, but make sure she's clear on how much cashola she has for the semester. Make a budget that'll help her see what books cost, spring break costs, nights out cost ... etc. It'll add up fast, and the more aware she is, the better she'll be able to plan ahead.
- Lean on you. Or if not you, someone else. She shouldn't be afraid or, worse, ashamed to ask for help. Sometimes college isn't all rainbows and keggers. Real shit happens -- STIs, academic probation, arrests ... the list is endless. If she's feeling anxious about anything, make sure she knows she's got resources that will help her and people who love her.
There are only, oh, one thousand million more things, but this is just a start.
What are your tips for teen girls heading to college?
Photo via orangeacid/Flickr