5 College Skills Every Student Needs to Master

CFNC IMAGE College Skills

Comedian and film director Judd Apatow once joked, “College is the reward for surviving high school.” It’s certainly true that college life provides the opportunity for many exciting experiences. As a freshman, you’ll meet new people, be exposed to different ideas, and discover which areas of study interest you most. But if you plan to survive (and, hopefully, thrive) once you get on campus, you’ll want to master some basic college skills first.

1. Efficient Study Habits

Even students who do well in high school may not have the study skills required to be successful in college classes. Simply showing up for class and reading all the assignments won’t be enough (but it’s a great start!). 

In college, you must be a good listener and note-taker during class and practice active engagement when studying your course materials. Because everyone learns differently, don’t be afraid to try multiple techniques, such as studying difficult subjects first or working in short blocks of time rather than in marathon sessions. What’s your learning style? Take CFNC’s Learning Style Inventory assessment to get a better understanding about how you prefer to learn and work.

Don’t forget about study groups. Team up with classmates or start a texting group to prepare for a big test.

2. Time Management

Being a full-time college student is like working a full-time job. In general, you should allow two to three hours of study per week for each hour of class time. If you take 15 hours of course credits, you’ll want to set aside 30 to 45 hours a week for completing assignments and studying.

To be sure you’re budgeting enough time for everything, it’s helpful to prepare a weekly schedule that includes all your activities, including classes, study, meals, extracurricular activities, fun with friends, and rest. Try out this time management calculator to see how you’re currently spending your time. Once you know how you spend your time, find a good calendar app for your smartphone to keep you organized.

3. Self-Care

For many students, going away to college provides your first taste of true independence. No one is giving you a curfew or telling you what to eat or when to sleep. The freedom can be exhilarating, but it also comes with new responsibilities.

Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, and avoiding risky behaviors are all important steps in managing stress and keeping yourself focused on succeeding in college. If you haven’t already developed these habits, now is a great time to begin working on them.

4. Money Management

In college, you’ll have to pay for tuition, books, and dorm fees or rent. That’s on top of  other possible living expenses, such as food, cellphone, internet bills, etc. Therefore, it’s essential that you have experience handling money and understand how to create a budget before you get to college.

College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) has exceptional free financial literacy resources where you can access budgeting tools, sign up for courses on personal finance, and even play video games that will develop your money management skills. Staying on top of your finances will also go a long way to reduce stress so you can focus on school.

5. Ability to Follow Directions

You’ve had to follow directions since kindergarten, so this skill may seem like a no-brainer. The difference is that elementary, junior high, and high school teachers and administrators view you as a minor and may be lenient if you stray from the rules.

In college, you’ll be viewed as an adult and will have to behave like one. For instance, you’ll have to follow specific procedures for registering for the classes you want to take and paying your tuition. Professors will expect you to follow directions regarding classroom behavior and completing assignments. If you choose to live in a dorm, you’ll have to adhere to community rules and heed instructions from the resident advisor. So, while college offers much more personal freedom than high school, it also requires you to take more personal responsibility for understanding and following directions.

Improve Your College Skills with Student Enrichment Programs

Did you know that many organizations in North Carolina offer workshops, summer programs, and other fun educational activities to students of all ages? These student enrichment programs offer a glimpse into college life and allow students to begin honing the college skills they’ll need to succeed.

Create a free CFNC account today to learn more about these opportunities and find all the information and tools you need to begin planning for your future in college.

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