7 Non-academic Skills Your Child Needs to Thrive in College

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7 Non-academic Skills Your Child Needs to Thrive in College

Every parent wants their child to succeed in college. But for them to thrive in college, they should not just have academic skills but non-academic ones as well. Here is a checklist of non-academic skills and attributes your children should have so they can survive (and even thrive) while in college.

1. Self-knowledge

An essential element of success in college is being able to identify and fully understand one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

According to college athletic recruiting consultants, your child must take some time to review their strengths, including creativity, work ethics, communication skills, and computer skills. Let them list down their weaknesses as well (like procrastination, poor time management and inattentiveness).

You’ll notice they can easily list down their strengths but may find it difficult to examine their weaknesses. Discuss their list with them, and emphasize to them that the key here is to maximize their strengths and to minimize or overcome their weaknesses. Together, you can create an action plan comprising realistic goals or objectives you can later go back to in order to see if they have improved.

2. Interpersonal Skills

Acting in an optimistic, tactful, outgoing, cooperative, and friendly manner is crucial to ensure success in college. When your child appears to enjoy working with other people and volunteer for leadership positions, their teachers and peers will notice and appreciate these qualities.

Let them know that when they appear to be unwilling to join group work activities, they may be misinterpreted as aloof, reserved, hostile, and uncooperative. So as much as possible, your child must learn how to work with other people openly and comfortably.

3. Analytical Skills

Your child must know how to connect their past learning experiences with the present. Moreover, they must use such experiences to help understand new material that will help them solve even the most challenging problems. 

The willingness to learn, think critically and analytically are important. Memorizing information should not be your child’s idea of studying. Instead, they should also know how to comprehend, analyze, synthesize, evaluate and apply information.

4. Commitment and Motivation

Your child should be motivated to learn. This way, they can effectively demonstrate their hard work and positive attitude in their class. They should also have the self-discipline and determination required to succeed.

Moreover, they must show initiative (go the extra mile) by doing things they may not have been instructed to do, or go beyond what their class requires. These include exceeding the required references in writing academic papers, and searching for readings that haven’t been assigned. Their commitment to excel in their classes must be reflected in their work ethic.

5. Enthusiasm

Your child must show enthusiasm in their classes by making thoughtful comments and asking relevant questions. They must also pursue pertinent information outside their classroom so they can better understand what their teachers are saying.

Cultivate in them the eagerness to acquire new skills, knowledge, and characteristics that will help them succeed not just in college but in life as well.

6. Time Management

One crucial skill needed to thrive in college is being able to manage time efficiently. They must have a system of monitoring all important dates and deadlines as well as for prioritizing their time.

They can use the traditional calendar/planner or an electronic gadget such as a smartphone for calendar management. Having a strong sense of time will give them the ability to determine if they can handle additional responsibilities or decline offers that can hurt their academic performance.

7. Balancing Work and Play

College is not all about getting good grades. It is also about making the smooth transformation from being a dependent teenager to a responsible adult, and creating new life experiences.

Instill in your children the value of hard work for them to strive for and achieve academic success. They should also know how to reward themselves for work they’ve done well. Integrating the college version of work-life balance into their lives should help them avoid the risk of burning themselves out by working too hard without any personal rewards.

Graduate school consultants emphasize the importance of seeking a balance between these two so they stay healthy mentally, emotionally and physically.

College is an opportunity for a student to have control over their life’s direction. It’s probably the first time your child gets to take charge of what classes to take, what to experience, and how much to study. By teaching and instilling in them these seven non-academic skills, they will be on their way to thriving in college, both academically and personally.


Author Bio 

Brian Giroux is an experienced college admissions advisor and co-founder of Capital College Consulting. Brian is a Professional Member of Independent Educational Consulting Association (IECA). Brian has worked with students from over 30 countries to help provide guidance through the US admissions process.

Brian’s experience includes 18+ years in education serving multiple roles as educator, athletic director, and college admissions consultant.

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