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Essential Life Skills Every College Student Should Master

Charlie Fletcher

Essential Life Skills Every College Student Should Master

College is the perfect place to learn important life skills that will serve you well after graduation. You’re away from home but still have access to student support services on campus. This gives you a chance to connect with expert help while you try to navigate adult tasks like taxes and employment for the first time.

Working closely with your student support services can help you learn how to manage stress and lead a lifestyle that suits your needs, too. Counselors and educators have advised plenty of students in a similar situation to you in the past and will be keen to help you become your best self while at university.

You can also develop some crucial soft skills while taking college credits. Developing soft skills like time management and teamwork will help you in life after university, and will ensure that you’re able to achieve the grades that you’re aiming for.


Financial management is a must-have skill, regardless of your major or future career moves. Being able to keep a clear budget, manage your cash flow, and file your taxes properly will alleviate your financial stress and help you make the most of your earnings.

It goes without saying that the easiest way to improve your financial situation is to get a job that meets your salary needs. However, this can be easier said than done while you’re pursuing a degree. Rather than taking the first minimum wage gig you get offered, use the web to find a job online today by:

  • Work with advisors to update and improve your resume,
  • Freshen up your LinkedIn profile to reflect course progress and achievements,
  • Use keyword searches to narrow down prospective roles,
  • Build a website that functions as an online portfolio for your work,
  • Keep applying at a consistent rate; rejection is normal and finding a good gig can be a job in itself!

When starting your search, stick to the “big players” in the recruiting world like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Simplify Jobs. These job sites will host most of the opportunities in your area and will help you find employers that align with your needs and expectations.

You should also use career fairs to find prospective employers. This is particularly important if you’re studying in a field that regularly offers work placements to current students. Taking on a voluntary or low-paid position while in college can boost your long-term financial prospects and help you hit the ground running when you graduate.


The best time to start expanding your professional network is while you’re a college student. You’ll get to know instructors, advisors, mentors, former students, and alumni who can offer insightful professional connections and guidance. Accept networking opportunities and employment fairs, and remember to utilise sites like LinkedIn to maintain connections. It’s incredible how helpful your peer network can be to discover job openings and initiatives that you might not otherwise be aware of.


Unless you’re able to find gainful employment while in college, you are probably taking on debt to get through college. This can feel stressful at first but, with the right financial management plan, you should be able to repay your student loan within the next 21 years.

Despite the advice of out-of-touch business moguls, skipping avocado toast and lattes will not help you leave college debt-free. However, that doesn’t mean you should overlook budgeting altogether. Instead, find ways to stay on budget while leading the kind of lifestyle that you enjoy.

For example, if you have a passion for fashion, you may want to spend more of your cash on thrifted items, rather than new garments. This may sound like flippant advice if you’re racking up tens of thousands of dollars in loans but, over the course of a four-year degree, thrifting can help you save thousands of dollars. You can start thrifting like a pro today by:

  • Clearing out your budget to earn in-store credit and rewards;
  • Searching with intention and creating a style board to keep you on track;
  • Customizing clothes that aren’t quite right — particularly if they’re on sale at a great price;
  • Visiting specialist stores for the items you actually want.

Thrifting is just one example of how you can stay on budget while leading a lifestyle that suits you. You can apply these insights to other areas of your life, too, such as buying used items like pre-owned video games, low-mileage used cars, and exercise equipment that is no longer being used.

Research skills

One of the most important things you learn in college is how to do research effectively. You’ll become an expert at locating trustworthy sources, assessing data, and combining your conclusions into a cogent argument. To be a great decision-maker in the business and in life, you need to have these research skills.

Critical Thinking

One of the most important things you will learn in college is how to think critically. It’s the capacity to evaluate data and reach well-informed conclusions. Complex concepts must frequently be dissected in college education, which fosters the development of strong critical thinking skills that are useful in both the workplace and daily life. Not only is this worthwhile and enjoyable, but strong critical thinking abilities have been linked to improved long-term health.

Communication Skills

Whether it’s giving presentations, writing essays, or participating in group projects, college is all about effective communication. You’ll learn to articulate your ideas clearly, listen actively, and collaborate with diverse groups of people. These communication skills are crucial for building strong personal and professional relationships. Again, evidence shows that higher communication skills are associated with a huge range of benefits like problem solving and higher self-esteem. 


You’ll have to swiftly adjust to new chances and problems that you’ll encounter in college. You’ll gain flexibility and resilience that will help you in new social situations and huge changes. In the dynamic work market of today, this versatility is a great advantage.

Time Management

Time flies by when you’re in college. One moment, you’re entering the classroom for your first freshman 101 class, the next you’re walking out on stage as a graduate. The semesters are almost certain to fly by, meaning that making the most of your remaining time in school is crucial. You can improve your time management skills while in college by:

  • Using a priority matrix to focus your efforts on the most important tasks;
  • Breaking up your to-do list to avoid procrastination;
  • Joining a study group to become more accountable;
  • Saying “no” to social events that will jeopardize your responsibilities;
  • Decluttering your space and calendar to improve mental focus.

These steps will streamline your day and help you focus on the most important tasks. If you’re still struggling to keep up with expectations, consider utilizing time management techniques like Pomodoro timers. This can give you a mental boost and help you get through that last paper before spring break.


College is the perfect time to master skills like time management and budgeting. You’ve got plenty of support services around you and can reach out to trusted counselors if you struggle to balance the books. Consider looking for a job that can increase your income and reduce your debt while in college, too. This will minimize your financial stress and put you in a great position to hit the ground running when you graduate.

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