Academics are an inherent part of the high school experience but there are skills that students need to develop in order to be successful at university. When students begin the next phase of their lives, they are going to start in unfamiliar surroundings. Students need to learn how to navigate unstructured days (no 8-3 school days anymore) and study and mealtimes whilst balancing the demands of the new academic requirements and social life at university.
- Responsibility and Independence
Students need to start taking ownership of their schoolwork and other activities without an undue amount of prodding from parents. That will translate into a commitment on their part to take responsibility for their learning and growth at university. In order to manage their newfound freedoms, they need to have a built-in sense of responsibility for their own lives and affairs.
- Self Motivation
Students need to have the motivation to learn, get involved in extracurricular activities and community activities, study abroad programs, research, and internship opportunities
so that they can make the best of their college experience.
- Time Management
Students need to develop time management skills throughout high school so that they are able to balance the demands of their classes, activities, and social life at university. They need to be able to plan for short and long-term assignments, meet the daily reading and homework requirements set for their classes, and manage their social life. That discipline has to be instilled in high school so that it is ingrained in them by the time they get to university.
- Critical Thinking and Decision-Making Ability
When I speak of critical thinking and decision making skills, I am not talking about academic abilities. Rather, it refers to a student’s ability to determine the pros and cons of a given scenario, weigh them, and have the ability to take definitive action. These skills will help students assess risky situations they encounter and allow them to make appropriate choices. Their ability to problem solve is a critical component of their new life at university.
- Writing Skills and Oral Communication Skills
Students are required to take a writing seminar at most universities now regardless of their majors. It is no longer enough to say that I do not need to improve my writing skills because I am going to be a — (enter student’s choice) major. If you have not developed writing skills, it impedes your ability to clearly communicate your ideas in the workplace. It doesn’t matter if you are an engineer, biologist, or a finance major; you need to develop your writing skills throughout high school and at university. Public speaking skills are also an important part of being successful at university and in the workplace. Oral communication skills should also include social skills which will help a student with the social scene on campus and in the workplace.
- Ability to Ask for Help
Colleges offer a lot of resources to students who need academic or mental health support. A big part of being able to be your strongest advocate is knowing when to ask for help. Seeking assistance should be seen as a sign of strength, not a weakness. Students should learn early on to go to office hours offered by their professors and teaching assistants or seek help from the academic support office at the university. Similarly, there are counseling services that are available on campus, so students should feel comfortable with seeking the services they need.
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