Mapping Your Future logo

Six essential skills for new college students

Woman's hand writing out three goals on yellow legal pad.

May 2, 2022

Soon-to-be college students have the expectation of learning a lot in college, and rightfully so.

However, to make the most of that learning experience, there are some essential skills that students should already have before they step on campus for that first day of class.

Successful college students have these skills:

  • Money management skills – Most students get some experience managing their own money while in high school but going off to college takes the money responsibilities up a notch. Whether you live on campus or off or whether you have a part-time job or not, you will most likely have a limited amount of spending money. And you'll have some expenses that aren't paid in advance (by you or your parents) or covered by financial aid. Before going to campus, set up budget with the estimated amount of income or spending money and any possible expenses.
  • Networking skills – For many people, networking isn't easy. It's hard to take the initiative to introduce yourself or strike up a conversation with someone. But once you start doing it, you'll find out how enjoyable it is easy to meet other people and learn about their lives. You'll find connections and make life-long friends. You may also meet someone who will help you land that first job. Introduce yourself to your professors, to guest speakers, and to fellow classmates.
  • Life skills – Life skills are those essential skills – sometimes not too exciting but extremely handy. These are skills like knowing how to do your own laundry, balance your checkbook, and cook healthy meals. If you've helped at home with household chores, you may have a good handle on these necessary skills.
  • Coping skills – College is exciting and fun, but there will be challenging and stressful situations. You can manage your stress through healthy activities including exercising every day, spending time with friends and family, pursuing religious or spiritual interests, and talking to a counselor or trusted advisor.
  • Time management skills – Knowing how to manage your time is a skill that will benefit you throughout your life, but it is a skill that will be especially needed when you pursue higher education. College may be the first time that you must set your own alarm and don't have someone reminding you where you need to be or what you to do at any certain time. Start keeping a planner, make sure get plenty of rest and understand the time it takes to complete required tasks.
  • Study skills – You may already have study skills from your high school experience, but you may find that courses are a bit tougher in college. Find a studying technique that works for you, such as forming a study group, reading something for each course every day, or hiring a tutor if needed. If a class is particularly challenging, talk to the professor to get recommendations on doing your best. Remember, read the syllabus, attend class, and do the readings.

These six essential skills will help you leverage the knowledge you'll gain in college and led to a successful life after college.

 Events for Counselors

Gettysburg High School Financial Aid Night

Tuesday, September 6 at 5:30 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

More Info


Huron High School Financial Aid Night

Wednesday, September 7 at 6:00 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

More Info


T.F. Riggs High School Financial Aid Night

Monday, September 12 at 7:00 PM CST
Online Meeting
Host: Cathy Mueller

More Info