You’ll have a lot to concentrate on when school starts. You may be focused on the subjects you’ll have to study or assignments you’ll have to complete. Ultimately, however, when you head out to build a successful life, the individual assignments or subjects won’t matter so much. The key question will be: What skills have you acquired?
In an ideal world, we’d graduate from high school with mastery over a myriad of amazing skills, including an impeccable singing voice, an innate understanding of the space-time continuum, and an unblockable sky hook. In the real world, let’s narrow down the priorities to 5 really essential skills that will help carry you through college, career, and life.
Sometimes this skill is described as “Digital Literacy.” Obviously we live in a digital world, and technology is integrated in everything we do. Nowadays even the TV remote takes skill!
College would definitely be a struggle without computer skills. Knowing how and where to access information will be critical. In addition, you’ll probably be expected to use Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. Fast and accurate typing will help you get through essays and research papers with less agony.
Employers are also hungry for tech skills. Many of them aren’t as tech-fluent as they’d like to be, so they’re looking to hire sharp young grads with a flair for software and hardware.
To hone your skills in this area, be sure to type your assignments instead of hand-writing them. Utilize Microsoft Office programs when you can. If you have a buddy who’s a tech whiz, let him or her teach you what they know – they’ll be happy to show off.
Social media is a very powerful business tool these days, so when you’re on those platforms, pay attention to how businesses are leveraging them to get their message out and attract customers.
This one is SO basic, yet so critically important. Humans are social animals and you’ll need to skillfully relate to and communicate with people in order to succeed. Writing skills are as important in college and business as speaking skills are, and text-speak isn’t going to cut it. When you’re writing papers this year, pay attention to structure and grammar! Whenever you’re unsure, check with one of the grammar websites recommended in this article.
When you’re writing for business, whether it’s an email or a formal proposal, the most important thing is to clearly communicate your main points. Practice following these tips in your communications this year:
- Clearly state the action you need people to take, or the concept you want them to buy into – and why
- Don’t muddy the message or beat around the bush
- Make your communication motivating and interesting
- Tell people something they don’t already know
- Follow a logical and orderly train of thought
Collaboration and Teamwork
Let’s include Leadership in this category, which is closely related to working successfully in a team – something that will be critical to your success. Few great achievements in history have been accomplished by one guy slogging it out on his own. When humans combine forces and brainpower, anything is possible.
Group projects in school are sometimes frustrating because everyone has different approaches and different strengths. Honestly, that’s the point. Figure out how to maximize everyone’s unique characteristics. Deep down, even the kids who seem zoned-out really want to shine. A true leader can find a way to help a group work harmoniously and productively, and make team members feel proud of their contributions.
Keeping a group motivated and on-track is also important. Once again, leadership skills will be advantageous in these situations. Next time you’re on a group project, look for ways to take a leadership role. It doesn’t mean you have to be the one calling the shots. But you can be the one who helps the group prioritize, get motivated, and stay organized.
This area reaches far beyond math equations. Life is really a series of problems to be solved; goals to be achieved. Every time man finds a new and better solution to a problem, society advances.
Problem-solving scenarios come in all shapes and sizes:
- The competing team has a better quarterback than we do
- We just lost power in the building
- Our budget is short by $250
- China is heading over to invade America
- I want that guy to notice me, without making a fool of myself
Innovation, creativity, and critical thinking are key elements of good problem-solving. As you approach this year’s school projects – or any other kind of challenge – take a minute to analyze the situation and consider a variety of approaches. Break the problem down into its core components and think through the steps of a solution. Be organized, but be innovative. Maybe there’s an approach no one has thought of before!
If you think you’ve got a lot to balance in high school, it will only get crazier in college. And then let’s say you get a job – and kids! Time will always be at a premium. If you learn to manage your time well this year, you’ll be grateful, both now and later, and a lot less stressed.
We’ve got it all broken down for you in this blog, with 8 great tips for good time management, and a list of apps/tools to help. Check it out!
Organizational skills go hand-in-hand with time management, and that’s also one of the top skills employers look for. Concentrate this year on organizing your life and organizing your projects. Learn about the components of project management here.
The Top 5 skills listed above are bound to take you far. But just for the heck of it, here are some other attributes that turn up often on the wish-list of employers and college acceptance committees:
- Flexibility and adaptability
- Global citizenship
- Critical thinking
- Creativity and imagination
- Emotional Intelligence
- Analytical thinking
- Ethics, action, and accountability
- Ability to prioritize
- Ability to influence
- Effective decision-making
We also discovered this list from New Zealand, for the 5 Key Competencies for Life:
- Relating to others
- Using language, symbols, and texts
- Managing self
- Participating and contributing
For more tips on key skills, check out: