Adulting 101

Elizabeth Lilley July 31, 2017

Our Adulting 101 program this summer consisted of 4 separate programs focused on helping prepare teens for life after High School. We helped teens learn how to "Build a Better World" by building their futures. Each week of the 4-week program had a separate theme: "Vehicle Safety and Maintenance", "How to Find, Get, and Keep a Job", "Navigating College", and "Dorm Cooking". We brought in volunteer guest speakers for each event. Participants were welcome to ask questions and participate in hands-on demonstrations.

These sessions are easy to customize for various demographics. Guest speakers can be found by asking around your patron base or reaching out to local colleges and organizations such as 4-H. This is a program that would be easy to extrapolate into a monthly or weekly series. Subjects can be broad or specific, depending on the time and resources you choose to dedicate. Our sessions ran from 11 AM-1 PM on 4 consecutive Saturdays.

Type: Active
Age: High school
Optimal size: 11-20
Estimated cost: $1 - $25
Planning time: <2 hours
Frequency: Monthly

Learning outcomes

What teens learn will depend on the topics offered and the questions teens ask.

A session about Car Safety and Maintenance teaches teens:

  • How to change a tire.
  • How to check fluid levels.
  • Important driving laws.
  • What to do during a traffic stop. 

A session about job skills teaches teens the following skills:

  • How to write a resume.
  • How to dress and conduct yourself during an interview.
  • How to quit a job without burning a bridge.
  • How to ask for an application and be taken seriously.
  • How to balance work and school.

A session about navigating college teaches teens the following skills:

  • Important campus resources to be aware of.
  • Assess learning style to make the most of studying in college.
  • How to talk to college professors.
  • Where to buy or rent textbooks.
  • Ways to organize yourself to make classes and studying easier.

A session about dorm cooking teaches teens the following skills:

  • Important food safety information.
  • Recipes that can be cooked with dorm-approved appliances.
  • Which appliances can be used in dorms and which are not allowed.
  • How to shop for healthy food on a college student's budget.


For each session, you will need to choose a topic that appeals to your teens, and then specify the things within that topic that you would like to cover during your session(s). A teen advisory group can be an invaluable resource in the planning process to suggest topics that they fell that they need to know.

Once you know what you want, you can begin looking for speakers that can efficiently cover the topic in an engaging way. Look for hands-on activities to get participants involved in each sessions. For example, let teens assist in changing a tire rather than just watching a demonstration. Making the participants part of the action makes it feel less like a boring lecture and more like fun. It also makes the lessons more memorable.

Talk to the teens, and let them ask questions. Also, don't be afraid to admit that you don't know something. Participants will appreciate the honesty and can typically spot a phony or vague answer from a mile away. That said, try to choose speakers that know their stuff. For the car safety portion of our program, we brought in a local sheriff's deputy to speak. While he didn't have an immediate answer for every question a teen asked, he was very honest and genuine. The teens responded well to this and were very willing to speak with him.

Make sure you have any necessary supplies or demonstration materials before your program begins. It is also a good idea to pre-portion supplies and ingredients if you are doing cooking or similar activities. This helps to minimize mess and keep the process more efficient.

Depending on what topic you are covering, you may want to have patrons pre-register to keep from running out of materials or having excess.


While attendance was a bit uneven, I would consider this program a success overall. The keys to making this work are getting the word out and choosing topics that appeal to your teens. This is a program that could also be opened up and adapted to reach young adults that have already started college but feel they are lacking some skills related to "adulting". One of the greatest things about this program is its flexibility. Let it morph to meet your needs.

Post a program

Post an activity that you think will be useful to others.

Related by tag