UW-Stout: Adulting 101: Series helps prepare students for life after college

Motor oil dribbled down Darrin Witucki’s arm as about a half-dozen students crouched to see him unscrew the oil filter from a car parked in the technology research and development lab of Jarvis Hall Technology Wing.

Witucki, UW-Stout’s Student Centers director, demonstrated vehicle maintenance basics as part of the Involvement Center’s Adulting 101 series.

The series started about five years ago. “It was designed to help prepare students for life outside of college and the classroom,” said Heidi Germain, Involvement Center campus activities coordinator. “It is getting those life skills they will need outside the classroom and further their ability to do well in life after college.”

The goal of the free Adulting 101 series is to help students learn life skills, Germain said.

Witucki demonstrated basic vehicle maintenance on Germain’s 2001 Honda Civic. In addition to changing oil, he showed how to rotate tires and conduct a general inspection as well as change a flat tire in an emergency.

n October the series covered housing and renting an apartment off campus. On Wednesday, Dec. 1, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center ballrooms a session is planned on household basics and useful items to have in a home, Germain said. Past events have also addressed financial health.

Witucki said he taught his children to change oil, rotate the tires and change a flat tire. It not only saved them money but allowed them to become more in tune with their vehicles and aware if something sounded off or needed repair.

“I think the entire series is important,” Witucki said. “You get to an age, and you are an adult. There are adult issues, and you realize you are responsible now. They are some basic life skills that emerging adults need to figure out. We want to build their confidence so they can help themselves and save money.”

Witucki kneeled on the floor and, using a tire gauge, checked the pressure of the car’s tires.

“Tire pressure is the most important,” Witucki said. “We are getting to the colder season. Tires start to lose pressure. If you run too long on a low tire, you wreck your tire from the inside.”

After using a jack to lift the car, Witucki showed students how to remove the tire lug nuts and noted he rotates tires every 5,000 miles. “I rotate every time I do an oil change,” he noted. “I get more miles out of my tires. With the price of tires, if you can get a few more miles, it is a gift.”

He also talked with students about the tools they would need for basic maintenance and repairs, as well as how much those tools would cost. Witucki estimates he saves $50 to $80 each time he changes his vehicle’s oil and rotates the tires.

UW-Stout sophomore Megan Copeland, a marketing and business education major from St. Michael, Minn., attended the session after her mom suggested it.

“I recently put air in my car tires for the first time,” Copeland said. “This was really a lot of good information. If anything were to happen with my car, I have a little extra knowledge. I do think it will be a help in the future.”

Senior Stephan Knotek, an information and communication technologies major from St. Paul, said he also enjoyed learning more about vehicle maintenance.

“It was all very good information,” Knotek said. “The one thing I learned the most about was tire rotation, which will help me save money in the future.”