The 8 most important skills to develop BEFORE you get to college


Attention all high schoolers! Graduation will come sooner than you think. Start developing these skills NOW, before you get to college!

1. Self-discipline

This is one of THE most important qualities to develop before you get to college. To be successful in college — and life — you have to decide what you want and take action. Learn to do things on your own, because in college your parents won’t be there to “motivate” you (“Get in your room and do your homework RIGHT NOW!”) and your teachers won’t tell you if you’re failing class. It’s all up to YOU!

2. Time management

Managing your time wisely makes all the difference. When you have a crazy schedule, reserving specific times for studying — and playing — will keep you on track and reduce stress. Too much of one or the other is bad for you. In school (and life), balance is important.

3. Prioritization

Nothing is harder than staying home to study for a final while your friends are out partying. But, sometimes that’s what it comes down to. Prioritizing means taking a step back and deciding what is most important, which sometimes means sacrificing your immediate desires for future success.

4. Note-taking

If you plan to maintain a good GPA, you must know how to study for tests and quizzes — and that all boils down to the notes you take in class. Unlike high school, where most of the material comes from your books, in college most of the material will come from your professor’s lectures. So, to do well, you have to pay attention and take great notes. If your professor is hard to understand or talks really fast, recording the lectures can help. And if there’s anything you don’t understand, raise your hand and ask!

5. Engagement

Developing positive relationships with your peers and professors can make a huge difference in your academic and social life. I can tell you from personal experience that engaging with your peers and professors will help you get better grades and create a more positive learning environment. Participate in class discussions and take advantage of your professors’ office hours. Professors are impressed with students who take the initiative to discuss their questions and concerns.

6. Getting along with others

Being able to work well with others — especially those with whom you have a difference of opinion — is one of the greatest keys to success. If you can learn to set aside differences and cooperate to accomplish your goals, not only will you get what you want, you’ll gain the respect of your peers.

7. Learning styles

Everyone learns differently. Experts say there are as many as seven different learning styles, such as visual learning, verbal learning, and hands-on learning. Maybe you learn better by engaging in class discussions, or watching videos, or reading independently. Experiment with different learning styles to find which are most effective for you.

8. Independence

Living on your own may seem like a piece of cake, but there are a lot of things to consider, like working, paying bills, budgeting your money, shopping, cooking, doing chores (which is part of being a responsible and considerate roommate) — and that’s all besides school! Developing these skills will take time and effort, but the sooner you start, the more success you’ll have in your academic, professional, and personal life. You’ve worked hard to get here. Now use our College Match to find the college of your dreams!

About the author

Emma ProudfitEmma is working on her Associates Degree at Glendale Community College and plans to transfer to a university and study communication next spring. She likes to play the piano, dance, read, and travel.