7 answers

What are some good general life skills I can learn which will help me succeed at college as a Freshman?


Entering college as a Freshman next year and I want to have my best chance at success
#success #college #school #general #leadership #higher-education#mentor#life#goals#freshman#hardwork

7 answers

Ilene’s Answer

Updated Washington, Washington

Breanna, it's really terrific (and very smart) to begin to prepare yourself now for college life. It should be a wonderful period between your teenage- and adult- selves, but it can present problems if you're not prepared. Some students, even really smart ones, find themselves in over their heads financially and socially, both areas where college students may be making decisions on their own for the first time. It's a little scary and a lot exciting! So, as a parent of two mid-20 somethings, I will share with you some of the topics my kids and I talked about, both before and during their college years. I hope you find these helpful.

My first suggestion is to think about what you want to get out of college. That may seem like a silly suggestion, since obviously you plan on getting a degree, but think about how you view your college experience. Do you want to leave with top grades and intern/work experience so you are best prepared to work? Do you view college as equal parts learning topics and learning about you? Both of these are valid, I believe, and both will require you to understand who you are and what your values are. Remember that adult choices carry adult consequences, so issues like drugs, drinking and sex need your thoughtful attention. Regardless of your current experiences, being on your own in these areas (or worse, listening to friends who may not share your values) can be challenging.

Finances are another good life skill to prepare for. If you don't already have a bank account you'll want to open one. Even if you plan on using venmo or another instant payment method, you'll need a checking account. Its good practice anyway, to assist with learning to budget and keeping/organizing your financial records. Books, living expenses, extras...where will that money come from? Credit card companies routinely visit college campuses and sign up students, who can then find themselves in over their heads. Plan your budget now and be prepared to stay on track, so you're not caught up in credit card debt before you even leave college.

Hopefully, you've learned to study effectively, but if you're worried about that, look into a course to shore up those skills. Time management is going to be critical and you can maximize your time by knowing how to study most effectively. You'll probably find next year that the time required for you to be successful in each class will be more than you expect.

Laundry, eating well, exercise and getting enough sleep are important but often overlooked. I remember doing laundry in my college dorm bathroom sink because I didn't have time to run down 4 flights of stairs to put clothes in the washer and dryer. Yikes. That was a mess. Keeping your dorm room clean may be a losing proposition, but remember, you'll be responsible for keeping you and your living space healthy.

Lastly, becoming comfortable with making decisions is a process, and you'll have lots of them to make, so be kind to yourself if they make you feel uneasy. Make decisions anyway. Start now, while you have the safety-net of parents. Like any other skill, exercising your thinking and decision-making muscles will make you better and stronger.

The years will fly by, so enjoy your college experience!

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

There are two main ones

  • getting to know yourself to determine which career area is most suitable for you
  • balancing your life so that you can both have fun and accomplish the best grades that you can

Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many.

Here is another important one that came to mind: learning how to do things in an economical manner. Here are ways to reduce college costs. Too many people spend way too much money on college and end up with unnecessarily high debt: ## http://www.educationplanner.org/students/paying-for-school/ways-to-pay/reduce-college-costs.shtml ##

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Here are some important tips on balancing life in college from those who have been successful: ## https://www.unigo.com/in-college/college-experience/creating-a-workschool-balance-a-college-student-perspective ## ## http://www.mycollegesuccessstory.com/academic-success-tools/college-life-balance.html ## ## http://www.collegeconfidential.com/dean/000241/ ##
  • • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.

Phoebe’s Answer


General life skills that are good to have all-around include: humility, flexibility, desire to play, humor, and passion for serving others. These are baseline strengths I have and continue to work on. They've benefitted me through several industries and companies, and different types of roles from administrative assistant to global team leader. Cheers!

Phoebe recommends the following next steps:

  • Check out Vala Afshar on Twitter (https://twitter.com/ValaAfshar); he regularly shares leadership and personal growth tidbits that are straightforward and actionable.
  • Listen to Reid Hoffman's podcast Masters of Scale. Reid is the founder of LinkedIn and an all around good guy. He's smart, affable, and from what I can tell, gets gets advice out of each of his guests on how to thrive at life. Enjoy!

John’s Answer

Updated Lakeville, Massachusetts

Breanna, the best answer I can tell you is to sit down with your parents and learn what it takes to run the house. The skills required for that include:

Keeping a schedule

Managing a budget

Taking care of yourself physically (Food, Sleep, etc)

Creating a network of resources (your resources may be more about getting to class than getting the water heater fixed but it is the same thing)

Creating a network of friends (you are leaving home so mom and dad will not be able to look out for you each day. Having friends can help with that and if your going away to college you might not be bringing any with you.)

Knowing your information (from medical information to bank account you need to know them)

Self reliance (the safety net if gone!)

The good news is that these are not hard, the bad news is that I know adults who haven't mastered them. Good Luck!

Robert’s Answer



Great question and an important one as you start on this journey to adulthood! The first suggestion I would have is learning discipline and time management skills. There are many insights out there online if you google it which will help you with this. You are young and are going to want to hand out with friends and experience freedom which is ok but needs to be done in moderation. Set goals to get your work done first so you can then have time to have fun without deadlines hanging in the back of your mind. Procrastination is an enemy here and in all aspects of life.

Sheila M.’s Answer


Start looking for a good internship or apprenticeship  in the field of study you are interested in. Volunteer in your community, work with student organizations as it relates to your field of study. See if there is a part-time  job on campus that might relate to your field of study.

Sheila M. recommends the following next steps:

  • Write out a plan for what you want to do with your life. Plan out your years of college, what will you do in your first year, how will you get closer to your goal of graduation, what will you do your second year, etc.
  • Stay focused, don't let anyone get you off track from your goals.

Jerry’s Answer

Updated Alpharetta, Georgia

<span style="color: rgb(67, 58, 83);">Collaboration skills and a balanced time commitment. Your ability to work in a team environment will keep you from going solo on deliverables that are meant to shared input. You should also pace yourself by putting in time each day instead of relying on cramming. Cramming works for some but could infuse unnecessary added pressures. Although I crammed from time to time, the results were not my best.</span>

Jerry recommends the following next steps:

  • Assess your current collaboration skills to understand how you currently interact on joint efforts. Think about what you notice and determine if you believe that will work for you going forward.
  • Practice time management now to see if it will come natural or if you need practice.
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