Prepare for College Series: Independent Living

Through our challenging and innovative programming, students develop skills that prepare them for college success, both inside and outside of the classroom. These skills serve as the foundation for all of our daily activities. This series will explore the 10 skills which are the focus of our programs.

What are independent living skills?

Independent living skills are the skills needed to thrive autonomously in daily life. These can include personal care, money management, and personal organization. 

Why independent living is an important skill to develop in a pre-college program? 

The biggest change students experience when transitioning to college is independent living. As a pre-college program, one of our main goals is to prepare students for that next step. To do that, we aim to give our students an experience that is as close to college life as possible.  

Living independently for the first time can be overwhelming for students preparing to go to college (and their parents). We recognize that most students have the desire to live on their own, but often do not have a full understanding of what it requires.  

How do we help students develop this skill? 

Our residential programs give them a preview of what it will feel like to live independently of parents, while still having support to help them learn and grow in this area. Students are introduced to the responsibilities of managing all aspect of their lives while living “on their own” for the first time. While students live in one of our residence halls, with roommates and/or suitemates, they still receive the support and guidance of staff, who live in the residence hall with them. Our staff provide general supervision and help whenever students need it, but students are encouraged to take responsibility for all aspects of their daily life.  

Students are responsible for their own schedules, food choices, cleanliness, and socialization. Again, while we do provide some structure in these areas, students still have autonomy in deciding how and when they will participate. 

Here are some specific independent living skills students practice while in our program: 

  • Management of personal hygiene and cleanliness of space 
  • Deciding when to shower, how to clean, and when to do their laundry 
  • Financial management 
  • Management of meal points and any additional funds they may have 
  • Problem solving 
  • Asking for help 
  • Health management 
  • Being responsible for eating the right things, taking any necessary medication, and letting our staff know if they aren’t feeling well  
  • Community awareness and involvement 
  • Participating in community events, sharing space with others, being respectful of others’ space and time 


Ryadah was Pre-College Coordinator from 2018-2020 and now serves as Assistant Director for Undergraduate Admissions at WashU.