The years students spend in college can be among their most challenging, and even students who excelled in high school often have their core assumptions undermined and their strongest academic skills questioned. While intelligence and academic merit can play a role in predicting college success, a 2012 study published in "College Student Journal" emphasizes the role of non-academic skills and argues that these skills might be even more important in predicting college performance than intelligence.
Emotional well-being is a key component of college success. Students without good impulse control might end up spending their time drinking and partying rather than studying. Homesickness can also make college life more challenging, and depression and anxiety can make daily life a struggle. Students with psychological disabilities should talk to their school's counseling center, and schools are legally required to offer accommodations to students with mental health disabilities. Students who don't seek these accommodations, however, might struggle.
From emailing professors to networking with other students to form study groups, communication skills are key in college. Particularly when there's a problem, students need to be able to speak confidently and competently to administrators and professors. Good communication skills include the ability to ask direct questions, to advocate for oneself and to send clear, well-written emails. Students also need to master the art of talking through problems with roommates if they're living on-campus.
Time management is key for succeeding in college. Students need to plan ahead for exams and projects, while still balancing the daily demands of attending class and completing homework, or perhaps even working a part-time job. Good organization plays a big role in proper time management, and successful students keep track of deadlines, assignments, communications with professors and other obligations.
Few students can get away with neglecting to study in college, and good study skills can make the difference between failure and success. Students need to read material carefully, review it, discuss topics they don't understand in class and prepare for exams. Students also need to know the learning methods that work best for them so they can plan their study time accordingly.
Strong academic skills can help a prepared student excel in school. Especially important are reading and writing, which are required in virtually every college class. Students with good reading comprehension can work more quickly and easily understand material, and good written communication can help students score well on papers, essays and projects.
- College Student Journal: Non-Cognitive Predictors of Student Success In College
- Palomar College Library: College Success Skills
- Basic Skills Initiative: Basic Skills As a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges
- University of Washington: College Survival Skills
- MiraCosta College: College Success Skills
- University of Washington: Academic Accommodations for Students With Psychiatric Disabilities
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.