Plan for College

Learn how to prepare for the education and training that will get you your dream job.

Five Skills You Will Need In College

Academic performance isn't everything when it comes to college success

If you want to do well in college, you'll need more than just a great intellect. You'll need to be disciplined with your time. You'll need to know how to take care of your needs and be a good steward of your well-being. And you'll need to manage your money without your parents' help. Here are a few behaviors — not in order of importance — that can help you thrive in college.

  1. Critical thinking. In college, you'll need to be able to take apart statements and ideas and think critically about them. What does that mean? To be a critical thinker means you can trace the logic of an argument and evaluate its conclusions, solve problems rationally, and construct an argument of your own with clear reasoning. A skill like this can help you do homework and manage test questions as well as participate in class discussion. Also, to do well on the SAT reading test, you'll need strong critical thinking skills.
  2. Discipline. It's helpful to think of your time as a commodity or a resource that you have to be a little stingy with. Once you start the semester, you're on a schedule so to speak, bound to do assignments and take tests in order to earn your grades and pass your classes. Be mindful of that schedule and allot time throughout the week to study, do assignments, and be in the habit of working.
  3. Stress management. There's a side effect to having deadlines: it's called stress. Stress can build up in your body as much as your mind. You'll need to manage that overload by doing things that keep you active, distract your thoughts, and return your body and brain to a calmer state. Exercise, yoga, and meditation are great ways to accomplish this.
  4. Basic money management skills. For the first time in your life perhaps, you'll need to know how to set a spending plan that matches your income, or available money, to expenses. You can find some great help in this area in the Manage Your Money area of AIE.
  5. Self-care. Outside of managing stress with exercise, you also need to eat right and sleep enough to focus well. Consider these as requirements. You'll feel better as well as be able to handle your workload more effectively.

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