Six Skills Your Teen Needs for College Readiness

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

If your teen is headed to college soon, it’s important to make sure he or she is prepared. College classes are a big step up from high school classes in terms of rigor and expectations, and your teen must have a range of aptitudes and habits to do well. What exactly does it take? Here are six essential skills your teen must have to be successful in college:

  1. Independence – By high school, teens should be keeping track of homework and upcoming projects and tests all on their own. They should be in tune with their needs in the classroom so they can advocate for themselves. Your support in school remains important in high school but make sure your teen understands that school is his or her responsibility and that he or she is taking initiative to complete homework, study and manage all of his or her responsibilities.
  2. Time management – The college workload can take many freshmen by surprise, and those who lack a good time management system tend to struggle. Teens must be adept at prioritizing their studying and planning ahead when they have big projects. If your teen doesn’t use the planner faithfully, now is the time to start.
  3. Adaptability – In college, there are times students get a lot of direction from professors and times they do not. A class project’s scope or timeline might change. It’s important to be able to adjust and pivot when a situation changes, new information is acquired or when faced with uncertainty. Encourage your teen to problem solve and stay calm in high-pressure situations. These skills go hand in hand with adaptability.
  4. Resourcefulness – College students do a whole lot of research. They are frequently expected to develop written arguments on texts they read and other topics and must be able to supply evidence and support for those interpretations. And outside the classroom, students should be comfortable asking for help and identifying and taking advantage of the different resources available to them. Suggest that your teen do the same as a high school student.
  5. Study skills Good academic habits are essential in college, including studying smart, notetaking and planning out the study and homework schedule. Students are expected to be responsible and on top of all of their classes and responsibilities. Make sure your teen nurtures the study habits so that by the time he or she is in college, they are second nature.
  6. Critical thinking skills – College professors want students to participate in class and articulate their ideas clearly. They expect that they are able to analyze new information, make connections about that which they learn and draw conclusions. As often as possible, encourage your teen to express opinions and the reasons for them and think through arguments.

College success requires a combination of academic and other skills, and these final years of high school are your teen’s opportunity to strengthen them. Help your teen acquire the skills and knowledge he or she will need so that by the time graduation comes, your teen is ready to make the college years the best ones yet.


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