Many 18 year olds who have completed Gr 12 may feel that they have what it takes to embrace the next chapter of their lives – be it travelling overseas, getting a tertiary qualification or entering the job market.

Research has shown that an 18 year old who already has the following 8 skills will definitely have a head start regardless of the nature of their next chapter:

1. The ability to talk to strangers:
Children are generally taught not to talk to strangers. The end result may be that they grow up not knowing how to approach and talk to strangers for help or guidance. Using technology as the main way of talking to others, being too shy, not knowing how to respectfully approach a stranger or nervousness around eye contact may also contribute toward this.  But, once you are 18 and becoming more and more independent, you should, regardless, be able to approach and talk to strangers without always feeling awkward or uncomfortable.

2. Finding your way around:
Be it around campus, your neighbourhood, the city you are living in or when travelling overseas, by the time you are 18 you should be able to find your way around – and comfortably so. This also includes figuring public transport systems out, travelling options as well as maintaining your own car. In other words, by the time you are 18 you should not rely 100% on your parents to drive you around either.

3. Managing your workload:
By the time you are 18 you should have learnt how to manage your workload and to meet deadlines.  This includes knowing how to prioritise and plan and not leaving everything to the last minute. You should be able to manage your diary and or to do list – and not need your parents to remind you of or ask you if you have done what you are meant to do. Self control and self discipline are some of the first skills noticed by upper management and at 18 you should have these.

4. Contributing towards your living space:
You may move out of home at 18 and you will need to be able to look after your own needs and also respect the needs of house or flat or roommates.  You should have learnt by now how to do your fair share of all the work involved in running a household.

5. Dealing with interpersonal challenges:
We all experience interpersonal problems from time to time – be it with friends, classmates, roommates, travel partners or colleagues. Your parents should not have to step in anymore to solve interpersonal problems and to console you.  By the age of 18 you need to be able to cope with issues and resolve conflict without any intervention.

6. Coping with ups and downs:
When you are 18 you are finally free. You are able to make your own choices and commitments and you need to be able to cope with all the ups and downs that come with your freedom of choice. Things may often not go the way you expect or want them to go – but you need to be able to be OK and carry on regardless.

7. Earning and managing your money:
Most 18 year olds really want to be independent. This means that you also have to be able to earn and manage your money. This means being responsible for your own income and managing your budget. You will soon need to learn about paying rent, insurance and also how to keep your credit track record clear.  So managing your money at 18 is an important skill.

8. Taking risks and handling consequences:
Making your own decisions at 18 also means that you will have to make difficult choices from time to time, without knowing the outcome of those choices. At 18 you should be able to take some risks without consulting your parents every time. And you should also be able to acknowledge the possible consequences and accept responsibility for these.

Reference Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford Dean.