Practically Out the Door


Get some tips on preparing for the big step.

By now you should have learned that growing up is a process, not an event. So whether you’re planning on going off to college, a mission, or a job after you finish school, there are things you can do now to avoid the most common pitfalls of leaving home. Here are some practical suggestions from college officials and others who work with young, newly independent people.

Learn the Secrets of Time

  • Order your life around. Time is a limited resource, so start learning to use it wisely. Bring order to your life by organizing it. Even a little bit of scheduling can go a long way.

  • Learn the true meaning of balance. Having too much on your plate can be a problem, but so can having too much free time. To achieve balance, you may need to eliminate some things from your schedule, or you may need to look for some structured activities to round out your schedule (for instance, work, leadership, or service).

Learn How to Manage Your Own Life

  • Make spirituality a personal matter. Set times for personal prayer and scripture study. Take institute classes. Attend church, fast, and pay tithing without having to be encouraged or reminded.

  • Get out of the house. Go to Scout camps, girls’ camps, or other activities that take you away from Mom and Dad for a few days at a time.

  • Start making your own decisions and solving your own problems. You still need to consult with your parents on many things right now, but when possible, try making some decisions and handling some problems on your own.

  • But remember to call for help when you’re drowning. If you really need help with something (a class, a person, a task), acknowledge it and seek help from the right people right now. Don’t let a bad situation drag on.

Harness the Power of Practical Skills

  • Master the mysteries of money. Try to gain experience with money. It may seem mysterious, but you can start small. Balance a budget (it’s simple—don’t spend more than you earn), and learn about checking accounts, credit cards, and loans.

  • Remember, there is no laundry fairy. Nor are there tidying elves, dish-washing dwarfs, or floor-sweeping sprites. Cleaning doesn’t just happen. Get used to doing it yourself.

  • Learn the recipe for physical health. Learn how to cook and how to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Discipline yourself to eat healthy and get enough sleep and exercise.

  • Master readin’, writin’, and ’rithmetic. Seriously. Basic reading, writing, and math skills form the foundation for success in future schooling, work, and other experiences.

Have the Right Attitude

  • Take responsibility. If you flunk a test, it’s not because the teacher hates you. And global warming didn’t make you late for class. Don’t blame other people or circumstances for your failures and difficulties. Doing so limits learning and growth.

  • Don’t view your life as a checklist. Open yourself up to new opportunities, and get out of your comfort zone. Your experiences can help you grow, but only if you view them as something more than mere items you check off of a predetermined list.

  • Spend time with different people. Learn to get along with people who have different behaviors, mannerisms, likes, and dislikes. For the most part, there’s no need to criticize or try to change them. Who knows? They may even teach you something.

O Be Wise

  • Handle freedom wisely. Many young people get in trouble because they go a little wild when they’re finally on their own. Set limits and expectations for yourself—bedtime, study habits, and so on. And most importantly, commit to live by gospel standards at all times.

A Guide to Choices

“Your testimony will be the strongest motive to select the right path and direction in your educational and vocational endeavors. It will help you to not live below your privileges and possibilities.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Your Right to Choose the Right,” New Era, Aug. 2005, 8.

Illustration by Dilleen Marsh