105 Adulting 101 Program Ideas

Adulting is hard! I’m pretty sure if I had a nickel for every time I’ve said “I wish someone taught me that in college,” I’d be able to fund my own space program.

For real, though. There’s so much we need to know as an adult and there’s no guarantee that we’ll have someone around to teach us. As student affairs professionals, we can help our students (and, let’s be real, ourselves) be better prepared for whatever life throws at them with some basic life skills programming.

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This list was inspired by a student affairs professional’s Facebook post, and we couldn’t help but add some of our own ideas to those already fantastic suggestions. Supposedly, if you know how to do all these things, then you’re a successfully grown-up human being! (At least, that’s what we’ve been told)

If you’re thinking of hosting Adulting 101 programs for your students, then this is the complete list for you.

We kept the descriptions for each of these topics brief, so they’re open to your campus’ interpretation! Let us know if you choose to implement any of them.

Here goes! 


1. Banking
The purpose of checking accounts and savings accounts. Should you go big bank or local credit union? All your eggs (dollars) in one bank, or multiple?
2. Managing finances/budgeting
3. Budgeting apps
Think apps like Albert, Mint, Honeydue (for people in relationships or people co-living)
4. Extreme couponing
A great opportunity to break out episodes of the TLC classic.
5. How to write a check
6. How money orders work
7. Taxes 101
8. Credit cards (plus interest, points, and other rewards)
9. Managing your credit score
Credit Karma is a great way to look at all your lines of credit and plan on ways to improve your score.
10. Planning for retirement
11. The basics of a 401(k)
12. How (and why) to start a Roth IRA
13. Intro to investing
14. Bitcoin and cryptocurrency


15. How to lease an apartment
16. How to pack for a move
And adapting to a minimalist mindset.
17. Moving on a budget
18. Renters insurance
Bundle it with your car insurance and SAVE!
19. Living with roommates
20. How to talk to your landlord about problems
21. How to get rid of roaches and other insects
22. How to get your security deposit back
23. How to break a lease
24. Mortgages


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25. How to get your license
Did you know? Generation Z students aren’t getting their licenses as frequently as previous generations.
26. Parallel parking
27. How to talk to a mechanic
28. Jumpstart a car
29. How to change a tire
Bonus tip: Purchase an air compressor that plugs into your car via lighter jack.
30. How to change your oil
31. Creating an inexpensive emergency car breakdown kit
32. Leasing and buying a car (and not getting screwed)


33. Intro to health insurance
34. PPO vs. HMO
35. HSA vs. FSA
36. How to compare healthcare plans
37. First-Aid & CPR Training
38. Urgent care vs. ER
39. STI testing
Talk about not only when and why you should get tested but also where you can be tested for free (or cheap!)
40. Find a dentist/doctor/optometrist
41. Financial assistance in case something does happen to you

Beyond Graduation

42. The basics of student loans
43. Repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
44. Refinancing
45. Graduate school applications and funding


47. Managing online job searches
There are so many different tools to use for your search, so look outside of your usual few websites!
48. Resumes and cover letters
49. Overcoming the fear of failure
50. Dressing for success
You can take this program a lot of different directions. You can have an open discussion about things like tattoos, piercings, or brightly-dyed hair. You could host an interview-outfit free closet. Or you could have a conversation around what professional dress even means and how implicit bias plays a role in our perception of it.
51. Tie a tie (and bowtie)
52. Interviews and thank yous
53. Networking
54. Asking people for (positive) recommendations
55. Applying for internships and jobs
56. Negotiating benefits
57. How to quit a job


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58. Cooking basics
Since this is college, after all, you could also cover how to make healthy meals with nothing but a microwave.
59. Baking basics
60. Brewing the perfect coffee
61. Operate a grill
62. Cooking on a budget
Buzzfeed has some awesome 5 or less ingredient recipes. You can also check out the Good and Cheap Cookbook for healthy meals that are under $4 per serving.
63. What to know about fad diets


64. Traveling on a budget
65. Staying safe abroad
66. Getting around without a phone
Planning ahead, public transport, and yes, even reading paper maps.
67. Packing for a trip
68. Staying healthy while abroad
Getting vaccinated, staying hydrated, watching what you eat.
68. How to make a campfire
69. Survival skills



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70. Meditation
71. Managing Stress
72. Yoga
73. How to identify burnout
74. Identifying a toxic workplace
75. Time management
Check out our blog posts on our top time management life hacks
76. Who should I talk to?
A breakdown of when it’s time to talk to friends, a mentor, or a counselor
77. Daily skin care routine
AKA SPF saves lives
78. Defining your happiness
No one else can make you happy; they can make you feel happy, but you create your happiness.


79. Active listening
Listening is more than just hearing. How to process what people are saying and show someone that you truly understand.
80. Basic American Sign Language
81. How to identify your own passive-aggressive behavior
82. How to source trustworthy news on the internet
83. Repercussions of social media behavior
Looking at the positives and negatives of putting your life online, plus how to keep your private life private.
84. How to make phone calls
Setting-up appointments, knowing the right questions to ask folks, and how to politely end a call.



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85. Talking finances with your significant other(s)
86. How to identify and break up with your own toxic relationship habits
87. Spotting unhealthy romantic relationships
Understanding that a relationship is two or more individuals who are joining forces, not combining to make one person.
88. Having a loving relationship with yourself
89. Managing relationships at work
90. Dance like an adult
Did someone say Electric Slide?
91. Moving in with a significant other
92. How to break up


93. How to do laundry
Going beyond the “sniff test”.
94. How to iron clothes
95. How to make the bed
Hospital corners, galore!
96. Cleaning essentials
Specifically which chemicals to mix and not mix, plus at-home remedies that are healthier for you and the environment.
97. Guide to recycling
Here’s a handy guide for understanding the recycling symbols on plastics.
98. Change a fuse
99. Clean an oven



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100. Swim
101. Ride a bike and change a tire
Keep your bike in tip-top shape and keep it safe.
102. Throw a football
103. Find a local club sport
104. How to play fantasy football
105. Creating a workout that’s right for you

How are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Slightly inexperienced? Me too! Nevertheless, you’ve made it to this point and that’s truly an achievement.

As always, if you think we’ve missed something, then tweet at us @LucasBurh and @themoderncampus.

Luke Burton

About the author: Learn how we can help get your students involved.