College is a wonderful time for students to explore the academic pursuits that interest them, as well as to hone the skills necessary for eventually entering the workforce. And while it is generally an exciting time for young adults, it is also very rigorous and requires a great deal of dedication, focus, and hard work. If you’re a high school student anticipating heading to college within the next few years, here are some key skills that you should be nurturing now to make for a successful college career in the future.
Reading is by far the most common type of assignment that college professors will give—especially in the liberal arts fields. Successful college students are able to read dozens of pages of text per day and keep detailed notes throughout the course of their reading. The best kind of note-taking is both a summary and an analysis of the text, which results from meaningful time spent synthesizing the text.
Virtually every college student at one time or another will be asked to write a paper for a particular course, and for most college students the number of papers assigned is quite a few. Papers that are assigned in a college environment typically involve laying out an assertion—or in other words, something that can be argued. This means that in order to be a successful paper writer in college, you must become familiar with the general process of laying out an assertion in writing form early on. One of the best ways that high school students can prepare for this is to practice creating a thesis statement, pairing that thesis statement with two or three supporting arguments, and citing primary sources within a paper.
Understanding mental health.
College can be stressful, especially for freshmen who are learning to be independent and manage the workload. While this stress is to be expected and is often critical in a higher-learning environment, it’s still important for students to be able to take stock of their mental health and ensure that they are in a good mental place to continue learning and developing their knowledge. Many colleges even offer on-campus therapy sessions that are geared towards helping students work with mental health-related issues.
College-level courses tend to be a great deal more discussion-oriented than high school-level courses, and college students will generally see more opportunity—and even obligation—to express their own opinions in class. If voicing your opinions to a group is something that still feels uncomfortable to you, take the opportunity to practice any time you happen to find yourself in a public forum-like environment.
Ability to overcome distraction.
Let’s face it—college is full of distractions. Libraries are not always quiet, hallmates are not always mindful of study hours, and college campuses are bursting with extra-curricular activities all calling for your attention. It’s important that as a college student you are prepared to handle the many temptations that will draw you away from your focus. This even includes time spent in lecture when you might be using a laptop to keep notes; it may be easy to simply open up an Internet browser and find something to pass the time, but you be able to overcome distractions such as these when it comes time to take notes. Having a good pair of noise-canceling headphones you can throw on can also help you limit distractions while you’re working; that’s why it’s one of the things that are recommended to bring with you to college.
Finally, even if you are well versed in all of these skills, none of them will come in handy unless they are paired with a heavy dose of strong time management. Time management is essential to balancing the heavy workloads that are typical of a college environment while still making time for healthy, recreational time away from studying.
Over the years, college has become more and more expensive, even relative to rising incomes in that time. Because of this, there is more financial risk involved in going to college than there ever has been before. Indeed, student loans are a common cause of bankruptcy in today’s world. For this reason, it’s critical that students who are preparing to go to college develop a sense of financial literacy. This will drill home the importance of looking for scholarships, considering long-term costs associated with specific courses and degrees, and help promote good economic behavior.