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Older and wiser: A school life summer series
‘Good study habits.’ Karen Ahedo, 18 Incoming freshman at North Georgia College & State University

As students prepare for life outside the nest — whether living on their own or going off to college — there are some skills they should master for success

About this series
Throughout the summer, we will be taking a closer look at life skills new graduates — and, for that matter, everyone else — should know. These could be as simple as cooking with basic appliances or doing a load of laundry, to balancing their checkbook or being organized. Look for these stories every Monday through June and July. June 21: Organization and time management June 28: Basic cooking skills July 5: Focus and multitasking July 12: Balancing a checkbook July 19: Washing clothes July 26: Taking notes

Oh, what we wished we knew when we were younger.

Local high school seniors have graduated and some are preparing for a life away from home. While means, living outside of their parents’ protective nest, there’s bound to be something that comes up that requires some life experience to solve.

Luckily, despite the demands of changing technology and an increasingly globalized job market, the basics stay the same, said several Hall County teachers.

"Responsibility sums it all up," said Cathey McCracken, who taught marketing and business at Chestatee and Johnson high schools but will move on to Chestatee Middle School this fall. "You can look online for assignments, so it’s crazy not to complete something or turn it in."

When it comes to certain life skills, teachers rank organization, time management and note-taking high on the list that they hope their students will take forward for college and their careers.

"Organization is key," said Kelly Woodham, action service coordinator at West Hall High School. "Some students will do the assignments but not turn them in for credit. They’ll lose papers and expect the teacher to remind them."

Multitasking and focus is important and becoming increasingly segmented as students use computers, music players, cell phones and video games on a daily basis.

"I do hands-on experiments in class, like shooting rockets, and sometimes my students look at me like they’re asking ‘What’s next’," said Jacob Marble, a chemistry and physics teacher at Jefferson High School. "They’re used to doing four things at a time, but they can’t really multitask. They can do a lot of things OK but not well."

For students, the most important life skill concerns are the ones they’re starting to use now and will definitely need in college — cooking, cleaning and budgeting money. Although some Hall County and Gainesville schools offer culinary and marketing classes, only a handful of students are able to take the classes and learn practical lessons.

"You need to know how to handle cooking when you’re older," said Priscalla Medrano, an eighth-grader at C.W. Davis Middle School who attended a weeklong class at Lanier Career Academy about being a pastry chef. "This is what I want to be when I grow up, but everyone needs to start learning early so they won’t be struggling."

Similarly, Davis sixth grader Kyle Hedberg saw the value in taking a weeklong construction class through the Lanier Career Academy.

"I help my dad out because he’s a painter, so I wasn’t used to working with some tools," he said. "But kids need to learn this so when we get older, we can save money by fixing our own things."

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