High school is a formative time of learning. Or at least, it can be. The high school covers a wealth of subjects, plenty of knowledge and know-how, and a wide spectrum of social opportunities and experiences that can help prepare you for the next stage of life, whatever that may be.
However, though the curriculum and experience of high school are designed to prepare you as much as possible either for college or a career once you’ve graduated, it often requires some intentionality on your end to make sure you leave your high school experience with the skills that will prove most valuable to you. It is vitally important to know exactly what skills will benefit you down the road so that you can identify the opportunities you have during high school to exercise them. Otherwise, those opportunities might slip away.
Below are some of the skills you’ll need that aren’t always obvious or talked about but will actually be some of the most important assets that will help you thrive in whatever comes after high school.
Skills to Make Sure You Have When You Graduate
Whether future employers, professors, mates, or other connections, nearly everyone you will work with during the rest of your life will want you to be reliable. Reliability is an incredibly important skill to cultivate, and now is the best time to start practicing it. Whether in your personal or professional life, demonstrating reliability to others around you helps them to trust you. This could lead to promotions or bigger and better responsibilities in your job, or stronger relationships with your friends and family members. It is a vital trait that you can begin practicing while in high school.
Try keeping track of every promise you make to friends, parents, or teachers for a week. Markdown in a journal or in your phone how many of them you actually kept. How do the numbers look? If it looks like you don’t follow through on many of the things you promise, think through the kinds of promises you habitually make. Are they realistic? Should you limit the number, or take care not to make certain types of promises that are hard to follow through on? Take steps to be more intentional about your reliability.
Many people wouldn’t automatically include positivity in a list of important skills for one’s personal and professional life. However, being able to maintain positivity no matter what the outward circumstances maybe is actually an incredibly important skill. Positivity sometimes takes extreme resilience and fortitude to maintain. It’s a mindset – it takes time, choice, and effort.
One way you can practice positivity is by listening to your language and reactions for a week or two and noticing trends. How do you respond to problems or adversity? Do you hear yourself complaining or blaming someone whenever you experience an inconvenience or hardship? Or do you hear yourself speaking about what you hope to accomplish or gain even in the midst of it? What’s your internal reaction to frustration or disappointment? Can you identify people in your life that you would consider positive (or have heard other people describe that way) and listen to how they speak and approach life?
Being mindful of your own reactions to adversity and learning from others who maintain a positive outlook on life are two important strategies for developing your own positivity.
This will prove an integral skill whether you find yourself in a career, higher education, or any other type of setting after high school. Nothing happens without roadblocks and problems along the way. Problem solving skills allow you to explore and understand the problem, rationally consider solutions or alternatives, and implement a solution. Strong problem solvers are often favored for promotions, are more likely to succeed at anything they set their mind to accomplish and can be strong team members in a wide variety of settings.
To develop your problem-solving skills, pay attention to how you approach the next problem you encounter, whether in your personal or school life. It doesn’t matter how small or significant the problem might be. Observe how you tackle the problem and then identify ways you might be able to do it better next time. Could you keep a cooler head? Be inquisitive rather than angry?
Come up with a couple of different possible solutions and then weigh them against each other instead of doing the first thing that comes to mind? Practice your problem-solving and ask for advice from people you admire who are good at handling problems or hardships.
No matter what type of career path you would like to follow, or what kind of life you hope to lead after high school, you will be interacting with other people. The practice of communication, both written and verbal, is one of the most important skills you can emphasize for yourself as you work towards completing high school. Being able to speak clearly and write effectively can make you stand out in almost any setting.
Whether you are a member of a candidate pool for a job, part of a freshman class at college, an incoming recruit for a military branch, or in any number of other possible scenarios in which you might find yourself after graduation, strong communication skills will help you advance, gain credibility, and perform effectively.
To improve your communication, you might try asking your teachers to give more formative feedback on the papers you currently write for your classes. Ask a mentor you trust to help you communicate verbally in a clearer way or ask them to suggest ways you can practice being more articulate. Join a speech or debate club, or look for an opportunity like a local Toastmasters chapter that meets outside school hours where you can practice your communication skills.
It takes some intentionality, but being aware of the importance of these skills in your post-high school career and incorporating them into your routines now will be of huge benefit to you in the future as you graduate high school.