Important Skills to learn for all-round development

High school students and freshmen in college have one thing in common – they are all transitioning into an independent life. It’s the time when students work toward building their careers and becoming responsible adults. 

For this reason, this is the right time for students to develop new skills and brush up on those they already have. These skills can refine their personalities and make them stand out. Whether going for an interview or a social event, these skills can help students navigate their careers and personal affairs without a problem. 

But what skills do students in this age group need to work on? Find them out in our comprehensive list below.

I. Academic Skills

As the name suggests, these skills are required to do well in academics. With these skills in place, students can study better and ensure good grades in assessments.

1. Note-taking: 

Effective note-taking is essential for academic success. Students can perform note-taking activities to improve concentration, enhance attention to detail, and promote active learning. 

For effective note-taking, students can write down main ideas and key points, use symbols and abbreviations, write in neat handwriting, use color coding to highlight, and customize notes to suit their learning style. 

2. Imbibing good study habits: 

Keeping notes and assignments organized, creating and following a timetable, setting clear goals, revising lessons, self-testing, and avoiding procrastination are some skills worth practicing regularly.

3. Concentration: 

Paying attention to the teacher without getting distracted is another important skill to learn. Many students fail to concentrate during classes, which often leads to poor grades. 

To get better at concentrating in class, students should try meditation, identify and address distractions, focus on one task at a time, practice active listening, and get enough sleep to attend school in a fresh state of mind. 

4. Advanced reading comprehension: 

High school and college curricula require strong reading comprehension skills. Previewing text to get an overview, highlighting important points, asking questions, making inferences, rereading, and monitoring understanding can help students understand their lessons better. 

5. Writing proficiency: 

Good writing skills are necessary for creative writing, writing essays and research papers, etc. Learning to write effectively helps students express their ideas and deliver a well-thought-out assignment. 

Achieving this is possible by using appropriate grammar and punctuation, using a variety of sentence structures, structuring the text properly, adding details, editing for clarity, and using references and citations in the end. 

II. Hard Skills

Hard skills are skills required to work in a particular industry. Students typically learn these skills through training and formal education.

1. Industry-specific knowledge: 

Interested in building a career in engineering, medicine, or any other industry? Gather knowledge and learn specific skills by enrolling in programs related to that field. 

For example, medical students learn medical terminology, diagnosis, and patient care techniques. IT students learn programming languages like Java, web development, and database management. Whereas, students specializing in human resources learn recruitment techniques, conflict resolution, and compensation management. 

2. Foreign language: 

Knowing a foreign language is a great asset, and it helps a lot on the professional front. Students can learn in-demand languages like Spanish or French to boost their credentials on their resumes. 

Skills to refine when learning a foreign language include understanding spoken language, developing speaking fluency, reading comprehension, and writing proficiency.

3. Quantitative skills: 

Having quantitative skills can help students apply their mathematical knowledge to find solutions to real-world problems. Interpreting data and performing calculations also becomes easy with good quantitative skills. 

A few things to practice to develop good quantitative skills are data interpretation and analysis, understanding graphical representations, quantitative reasoning, and using algebra for calculations.

4. Design skills: 

Having design knowledge is necessary in today’s world. As people are now turning to social media platforms to showcase their skills and improve their visibility in professional networks, knowing how to use tools like Canva and Adobe Photoshop can help students create eye-catching visuals to grab people’s attention. 

Design skills need creativity and involve brainstorming ideas to share information through images and illustrations. It also requires knowledge of typography, layout design, and color theory to come up with intricate designs. 

III. Soft Skills

Soft skills are individual-specific. These cannot be quantified or measured, but they are as important as hard skills to do well at work. Many of them are also needed to maintain healthy relationships with friends and family as well.  

1. Time management: 

Learning time management skills can help students balance their academic workload, personal commitments, and extracurricular activities. The best way to ensure this is to establish a routine, use planners and calendars, make to-do lists, set deadlines, and practice time blocking to set time aside for specific tasks during the day.

2. Communication skills: 

Strong oral and written communication skills allow students to express themselves clearly. Whether submitting an assignment or appearing for an interview, these skills support a successful exchange of thoughts and ideas. 

Improving communication skills involves working on verbal, non-verbal, and written communication, listening attentively, speaking in an easy-to-understand manner, expressing confidently, and maintaining respectful communication. 

3. Empathy: 

Students with empathy build supportive relationships, can resolve conflicts amicably, and help create an inclusive environment. Developing empathy is possible by understanding  other people’s perspectives, validating their emotions, respecting their views, using kind words and a gentle tone when talking, showing kindness and compassion, and offering help to those who need it.  

4. Emotional Intelligence: 

Developing emotional intelligence through social-emotional learning can help students in all areas of life. It includes social skills, self-awareness, emotional regulation, self-motivation, resilience, adaptability, and seeking help when needed. This results in improved relationships, better self-control, and enhanced well-being.

5. Decision-making: 

Life is all about making the right decisions. Effective decision-making comprises analyzing situations critically, evaluating possible outcomes, reaching out for guidance when required, and making informed decisions.

6. Problem-solving: 

Having a problem-solving attitude can make handling problems easier. Using this skill, students can identify challenges and find solutions without feeling overwhelmed. 

In order to enhance problem-solving skills, students must learn to identify the root cause of a problem, use problem-solving techniques, apply logical reasoning for resolving issues, and practice continuous learning. 

7. Critical thinking: 

This skill gives students the ability to question assumptions and arrive at logical conclusions. Critical thinking allows people to think independently without being influenced by others. It encompasses analyzing, evaluating, interpreting details, questioning for clarification and understanding, and employing logical reasoning to derive conclusions. 

8. Leadership skills: 

While they say – not everyone is a born leader, it is absolutely possible to hone leadership skills and become a true leader. These skills are necessary to climb the career ladder and acquire leadership roles in organizations. 

To refine leadership skills, one must take initiative, collaborate and encourage others to work toward a common goal, practice delegation, learn to problem-solve, make responsible decisions, and develop an approachable personality.   

9. Interpersonal skills: 

Skills like teamwork, collaboration, treating others with respect, listening carefully, and engaging in open-minded interactions are required during group projects and activities. These skills are also important in the professional sphere. Improving interpersonal skills helps build connections and trust among peers and allows them to communicate without hesitation.

IV. Life Skills

Life skills are skills students need to develop to be able to navigate day-to-day life smoothly. These include:

1. Money management: 

Students must learn to manage money effectively. For example, creating a budget, learning to save, and investing in safe options. In addition, understanding salary calculations and taxes is also important, as this knowledge is useful in the future when students begin their professional journeys.  

2. Household management: 

This includes cleaning and organization, doing laundry and dishes, basic appliance maintenance, grocery shopping, bill payments, waste management, and more.

3. Car maintenance: 

Besides maintaining the house, students who have attained the age requirements for a driver’s license and know how to drive should learn to perform basic vehicle maintenance. This includes car washing, oil changes, changing a flat tire, replacing wiper blades, etc. Having these skills proves useful during an unexpected car breakdown when students are out and about. 

4. Cooking: 

After a certain age, students should learn knife skills for cutting and chopping, cooking techniques like sauteing and deep frying, and using kitchen appliances like a stove, oven, and microwave. Understanding nutrition, learning to prepare healthy dishes, and knowing the basics of meal prep and batch cooking are a few other things students should not ignore.

5. Stress management: 

Coping strategies like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help students when things get stressful and managing everything gets difficult. Other skills that can help with stress management are prioritization, time management, and positive thinking.

6. First aid: 

Knowing first aid is an important skill to have for students, especially when they are away from their families, as medical emergencies can occur at any time. Learning basic wound and burn care, treating insect bites, recognizing allergic reactions, CPR, and the Heimlich Maneuver for choking are a few things students should know.   

7. Traveling alone: 

Older students mostly travel on their own, either by car or public transport. Knowing how to travel alone, for example, buying tickets, finding the correct public transport to reach a destination, using maps and GPS, and keeping important documents (driver’s license or identification card) secure, can ensure safety and prevent mishaps from occurring.

V. Technology Skills

Being tech-savvy is the need of the hour. Following skills can ensure the same for students.

1. Computer literacy: 

In these times of technological advancements, every student must be computer literate. Knowing how to use tools like MS Office, Google Suite, video editing software, data analysis tools like MS Excel, and project management tools like Trello and Asana is required in both academic and professional activities. In addition, skills like file management, troubleshooting, and presentation skills are worth practicing. 

2. Internet research skills: 

The internet is a vast pool of knowledge. Knowing how to extract the right information is possible only when students learn appropriate research skills to explore the internet. These include knowing how to use keywords in search engines, assessing the credibility of sources, exploring academic journals and digital libraries, and verifying statistics and facts to ensure accuracy. 

3. Digital communication: 

Sending emails and attending video calls become everyday tasks when students start their professional lives. Therefore, learning email and video conferencing etiquette can help newbie professionals in the long run. Also, developing virtual communication skills and learning to give online presentations is a good idea.   

4. Using AI: 

With the advent of AI, it is now clear that artificial intelligence is here to stay. Students should therefore learn to use AI responsibly. It can open doors to many career opportunities in the future. Skills like brainstorming, problem-solving, using appropriate prompts, fact-checking, and summarizing generated information are necessary while using AI. 

VI. Career Readiness Skills

This set of skills is required to help students prepare themselves for building their careers.

1. Resume and cover letter writing: 

An impeccable resume and cover letter can grab a recruiter’s attention and increase the chances of being invited for an interview. 

Working on skills like written communication, storytelling to add a personal touch, formatting, editing, and proofreading to create a clear copy, along with keyword optimization to add relevant keywords to the resume can help. 

2. Interview skills: 

Learning interview skills like active listening, maintaining eye contact, speaking clearly, having confident body language, and building rapport with the interviewer can help individuals secure their dream jobs.

3. Networking skills: 

These skills help build professional connections necessary for career advancement. Knowing how to introduce yourself, strike up a conversation, build and maintain professional contacts, request referrals, and carry out follow-ups after initial meetings are some skills worth learning.

4. Job hunting skills: 

Knowing how to find the right job is also crucial. Researching jobs by reading their descriptions can help students identify the jobs they would like to apply for. Also, learning negotiation skills ensures students get the salary they deserve. 

For getting better at job hunting, students should develop proficiency in using job search platforms, learn self-marketing skills to promote themselves and create a personal brand, keep track of job applications, and monitor job market trends. 

While our list of skills may seem exhaustive, students can learn and bring them to practice gradually in their lives. These skills will help them create a place for themselves in this competitive world. Organizations too prefer employing people who, besides having industry-specific skills, are well-organized, responsible, team players, and know how to communicate well. 

So, students! Don’t wait for college to be over. Learn these skills from now on so you are prepared to take charge of your professional and personal lives when the time comes!

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