For years, employers and educators around the world have been demanding for the development of soft skills in people in the workforce and in schools – in people in general.
Although it often comes second behind hard skills such as math, memorization, writing and the like – it is often these very skills that people look for in other people.
Now that you’re going to college, perhaps it’s time to change your perspective on what soft skills are by starting to refer to them as essential skills or professional skills.
After all, “soft skills” are the attributes that enables you to interact effectively with other people. Before heading to college, here are the “soft skills” you should develop:
College is a brand new environment for you to traverse. You will need to get to know people to establish your support system and professional connections.
Without proper communication skills, you’ll be stuck in a bubble that prevents you from expanding your circle and delivering your message.
To develop these skills, try to approach your teachers for one-on-one talking sessions. Practice active listening, modulating your voice and meeting them in the eye.
You could also practice your diction by reading essays out loud and maybe roping in your friends to listen to you to provide feedback.
As busy as high school is, college is a completely different challenge. It won’t have the same structure of class schedule as high school classes do nor will your professors badger you to go to class or submit your requirements.
In college, you can say goodbye to micromanagement and say hello to self-management. You’re on your own.
College will bring you requirements left and right, along with social events and time for yourself — all of which you have to balance. Practice time management by getting yourself a planner to visualize your to-do list, disciplining your body clock and prioritizing your tasks.
You’ll be working with people with different backgrounds and personalities in college, as you will when you start working. And unlike college, you probably won’t see this people every day and your relationship will strictly be as groupmates.
Develop the skill of collaboration by practicing communication and active listening through group activities like group sports and team building sessions. These team-based activities will expose you to situations wherein different personalities are trying to achieve the same goal.
For years, the educational system has prioritized memorization of facts and formulas over critical thinking and problem-solving and it shows in the form of adults who fail to innovate and move around one problem or the other.
Problem-solving is a skill that you’ll be needing in college and in life, both in professional and personal settings. To develop this skill, you could start by enrolling or searching for classes that use experiential learning over memorization. You could go back to your basics and write using “odd” prompts, reading current events and pouring over puzzles and riddles.
Adaptability is the skill that enables you to adjust to any given situation with grace and a new plan underway. It’s an important skill since it demonstrates your ability and willingness to acquire new skills and new ways of doing things.
With such a rigid structure in a high school – a characteristic carried over from elementary school to build and structure routine – adaptability may have been overlooked.
To develop this skill, you can try to put yourself in new situations that will force you to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re a homebody, you could try camping for a night or two and maybe you can even start a new project that will ask you to develop new skills.
College is a way to prepare yourself for the “real” competitive world of the workforce and these skills are as on demand as the hard skills that you’re developing. You may be the best software developer but without strong soft skills, nobody would want to work for you. Or you could be the very best doctor but without strong communication, your bed-side manner will be entirely lacking. It’s like being the best in theoretical theory but being the worse in practical application.
It’s best to remember that the world is built on the relationships of people and not by individuals. Developing the skills above will not only make you a great person to work with or for, but also a great person to be friends with.
Hone these skills for a well-balanced college life, well-rounded resume and be a well-adjusted individual.
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