21st Century Skills Every High School Graduate Needs for Life Success

By Huntington Learning Center

We all want our children to graduate high school ready to take on the world and succeed in college and beyond. But success in the 21st century demands much more than mastery of the fundamental academic skills like math, reading and writing. The world today is highly complex and fast moving. Teens need to be prepared.

Here are a few of the most essential skills high school graduates need:

Collaboration and teamwork – Technology has changed the way students learn and engage with one another and has certainly changed the way all organizations operate. In college, students will be expected to communicate and collaborate with each other in a multitude of ways. Just like in high school, teamwork is integrated into the college classroom. Teens who are able to work effectively with a range of personality types, take responsibility on school work and be flexible in how they approach course goals will be equipped for success.

Critical thinking – You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again and again: critical thinking is an invaluable skill for students. In college and the working world, people are faced with a wide range of multifaceted challenges and problems, but not always provided much direction to deal with them. The ability to analyze, discuss and question situations in a logical, systematic way is essential.

Creativity – There’s critical thinking, then there’s creative thinking. Students who are able to think critically and also exhibit creativity when needed are a step above the rest. They’re able to come up with outside-the-box ideas and refine and improve those ideas. They recognize that some problems require unique solutions and they understand that working with others might be the best way to cultivate solutions to those problems. At a time when new technologies and tools are constantly being created, creativity is more important than ever.

Problem solving – Ever heard the stance that the problems that will face the global workforce tomorrow aren’t even on our radar today? It’s true! And in the college environment, teens will be encouraged to approach problems in a variety of ways. It will be expected that they thoroughly analyze problems, come up with potential solutions and develop and execute action plans. It’s also important that they are able to learn from missteps in their solutions. That way, they can go back and try to solve problems a different way if their first attempts didn’t work as intended.

Leadership – Guess what? All of the above are skills exhibited by leaders. Even when teens don’t identify their future college and career plans as those of a leader, leadership development can only benefit them. By the time they graduate high school, teens should be comfortable setting goals and working diligently toward achieving them, no matter how difficult. They should feel comfortable taking chances to go after the things they want and recognizing that risk-taking sometimes involves failing. That’s actually a great thing—and an opportunity to learn and grow.

A new year offers a clean slate. If you want to make sure your teen is on track to develop the skills he needs for success in the modern college environment and global economy, contact Huntington. We’re happy to support your child in every stage of his educational journey!