8 Important Skills to Develop Before College
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It may feel like college is a long way away, but really, it will be here before you know it. Getting in is only half the battle. You also need to develop skills to make you independent and self sufficient. Here are eight important skills you should master before you head to college.
Of course you need good study habits in high school. Start developing them now, and you’ll be well-prepared for college, where you may find the work more challenging and rigorous.
Learn what environments suit you best and compel you to work. Is it the library? A desk in your room? The park? A coffee shop? Check out Handling Your Homework: Time Saving Tips for advice on choosing an environment that allows you to focus and doesn’t present distractions.
Take some time to figure out your learning style, so you can adjust your studying habits accordingly. You might be an auditory learner who learns by hearing information or a visual learner who learns best by seeing visual cues, such as in a diagram. Discovering how you learn best can help you hone your studying. For instance, if you’re an auditory learner, you might say sentences or information aloud in order to retain it.
2. Active Learning
In high school, you have teachers, parents, and your guidance counselor to help make sure you’re on track. There will be less hand holding in college. You need to learn how to “actively learn” to get the most out of your courses—it will not only benefit your GPA, but also your own mind and life.
Active learning involves asking questions, paying attention, and staying engaged with the course and material. It’s essential for critical thinking and will help you grown as a person and, later on, in your career. Use these active-learning tricks to stay involved. Reading is another great way to grow this skills. Here are CollegeVine’s Summer Reading Recommendations for High School Students.
3. Time Management
High school is a busy time, but college will probably be even busier. Learn how to effectively manage your time, so you don’t fall behind.
Part of managing your time involves sleeping enough. This is not only important for your health and well-being, but also matters for academic success. Factoring in time to sleep is a critical aspect of taking control of your life, which is essential for success.
You should also make to-do lists and schedules. They can help you stay on track and avoid getting overwhelmed with everything you have on your plate. Learning to prioritize is also important for organizing. Read Eight Tips to Use Your Time Efficiently and Stay Organized in High School for more advice.
4. Sense of Direction
Now that everyone has a smartphone, a sense of direction may not seem like a big deal. Take it from someone who has a terrible one and went to college at the dawn of smartphones: you need to be able to get around without relying on your phone. You never know when it will die or you can’t access your data or wifi at the worst moment.
Learn key routes and how to read a map before you go to college. This is especially important if you live off campus, as many students do when they’re juniors and seniors. Even if you live on campus, you will need to learn how to get around, where your classes are, and so on.
5. Health Consciousness
It’s easy to forget to take care of yourself when you’re focused on schoolwork. In college, nobody is going to be reminding you to eat properly and exercise; you have to take that initiative on your own.
Exercising not only keeps your body healthy; it also helps your mind. (Learn why in 5 Reasons to Prioritize Health and Fitness in High School.) Part of paying attention to your well-being means being on top of your mental health as well as physical. Learn what’s too much stress for you, and consider seeing a therapist if you’re overwhelmed.
You should identify on-campus resources that can help you stay mentally and physically healthy, such as the student wellness center and mental health center, before you get to campus, and don’t hesitate to use them.
6. Awareness of Your Surroundings
As a freshman, may not have a lot of choice in terms of your dorm. (Learn about campus housing in How Much Does College Housing Really Matter?) No matter where you end up, being aware of your surroundings will help you stay safe and on guard.
Many campuses have top-notch security, but you need to play your part in taking care of yourself. Part of your orientation will probably include safety tips. Don’t roll your eyes during this lecture; you’re probably in a new city or town and don’t necessarily know what campus is really like. Start learning how to stay alert before you get to campus, too. Your parents probably have plenty of tips and will welcome your asking.
7. Doing Your Laundry
This may seem like a silly, basic skill to add to this list, but you’d be surprised at how important it will become. Some of you may have been doing laundry throughout your young adulthood, but many have probably relied on your parents. Either way, laundry is something you should learn how to do now. Whether you live on or off campus in college, it’s an important life skill that you should learn how to do sooner rather than later.
I remember when someone in my dorm ran a wash without the detergent, and his clothes came out matted and still dirty. Don’t let this happen to you! It will save you money and time to learn now. Plus, it’s another step toward becoming more self sufficient.
Organization goes hand in hand with time management. You need to be extremely organized to make sure you stay on top of your commitments.
Learn how to make a realistic schedule, understanding that you may not have enough hours in the day for everything you want to do. You’ll have responsibilities aside from schoolwork, as you probably do now. Learn how to prioritize responsibilities and keep track of everything that’s going on in your life, so you don’t fall behind on any of you commitments.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Transitioning to college will be hard work, and you need to develop maturity and self sufficiency before then. Learning these skills now will help ease that transition. Take the care and time to make sure you’re ready for college in many areas—not just academics. You’re well on your way to becoming an independent young adult.
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Looking for help navigating the road to college as a high school student? Download our free guide for 9th graders and our free guide for 10th graders. Our guides go in-depth about subjects ranging from academics, choosing courses, standardized tests, extracurricular activities, and much more!
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