7 Important Skills for Postsecondary Success

Image of sign about learning.

Important Postsecondary Skills:

  1. Self-Motivation
  2. Organizational Skills
  3. Open Mindedness
  4. Collaboration
  5. Social Skills
  6. Soft Skills
  7. Knowing How to Set Boundaries

You worked hard to be successful in high school. You made good grades, submitted college applications to your list of dream schools, got accepted, and are preparing for your first semester… but how do you know you’re fully equipped to make it through college? 

We get it. Going to college is a major life transition and a wake-up call from what you were used to in high school. You’ll likely have a larger course load, be responsible for all the “life” things that pop up, and perhaps even maintain a job. This can all feel intimidating and overwhelming, but don’t worry—we’re here to help! 

There are many important skills you can leverage for postsecondary success. Let’s discuss seven skills that will make you successful not only while in college, but for the rest of your adult life.

1. Be Self-Motivated

In college, you probably won’t have your parents around to clean up after you or have teachers who keep you on track throughout the semester. The transition from high school to college often requires more independence, with fewer reminders from teachers or parents. It’s up to you to be successful in postsecondary school.

Doing well in college isn’t just about passing classes in exchange for a degree. Establishing and nurturing your self-motivation will help you be more resilient and adaptable. In fact, studies show that self-motivated students are more likely to be academically successful in college and better manage college course loads than their peers who do not exhibit self-efficacy. Employers also seek these skills, which can be beneficial for you when it comes time to search for a job. 

Make a habit of setting goals that meet the deadlines of your academic demands, but also leave time for yourself. Break these goals into small, manageable tasks to keep you on track. Plan around personal and other academic priorities and keep your phone away to minimize distractions. If you can easily motivate yourself to complete tasks efficiently, you will be just fine. 

2. Get Organized

Class schedules, work schedules, friends, and extracurriculars can be a lot to keep track of. Invest in either a digital or physical planner to keep upcoming events and deadlines in one place. Prioritize tasks and leave some wiggle room in your schedule. Unexpected events may arise, so you want to know you have enough time to study and meet deadlines. Being organized reduces stress and prevents procrastination, leaving more time for you to do things you enjoy. 

3. Keep an Open Mind

There will be many things in college that are new to you. You are likely moving to a new city and being presented with many new opportunities. You will also meet people with different perspectives and opinions than you. Approach these people and situations with an open mind focused on conversation rather than judgment, and explore topics that you are curious about. You can learn a lot from your peers, professors, and lectures or events that will help shape your worldview. Being willing to step outside of your comfort zone can lead to personal growth and a more memorable college experience. 

4. Collaborate With Others

Group projects are common in college, which often reflect real-world scenarios you will face in your future career. You can develop strong communication and collaboration skills by being an active participant in these projects. Leverage the strengths of your peers within the group, and remember to ask for help when you need it. The ability to be a strong lever on a team is a valuable skill that will help you academically and professionally. 

5. Exercise Your Social Skills

Building meaningful connections is an integral part of the college experience. Exercising your social skills will enhance both your personal and academic life. Attend social events, join clubs, volunteer, and participate in campus activities. While it may be tempting to stay in your dorm after a long day of classes, it’s healthy to pause that for a moment of peer connection. Forming connections with your classmates and professors can open doors to opportunities, networks, and valuable insights. 

6. Hone Your Soft Skills

While technical knowledge can get you far in your studies, soft skills can get you far in your social circles and future careers. Soft skills include critical thinking, communication, problem-solving skills, time management, and adaptability, among others. You will be presented with many opportunities to exercise your soft skills during college. View them as opportunities and learning situations so you can navigate them with ease. Honing your soft skills can make you a more well-rounded student and professional.

7. Set Boundaries

College life has a lot of demands. It is easy to get caught up in the overwhelm of full schedules and difficult subject matter while trying to maintain a personal life. Learn to set boundaries and stick to them. Prioritize sleep and self-care, and avoid overcommitting your time. Keeping boundaries will allow you to establish a balance between your academic and personal life, preventing burnout and overwhelm. 

College is a pivotal time in your life to discover more about yourself and experience new opportunities. It’s a time for you to build relationships, strengthen new skills, and contribute to your overall personal development. By being self-motivated, organized, open-minded, collaborative, socially active, and equipped with soft skills, you’ll thrive in the dynamic environment of postsecondary school. Each challenge you face will be an opportunity for growth, and each setback a lesson learned. 

For more advice about how to survive your college days, check out our catalog of articles! And if you’re still looking for a post high school next step, you can use our College Search tool to find the best-suited university for you.