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Build skills for college and careers

Building a strong foundation of skills is crucial for not only thriving in college but also for setting the stage for a successful career. Let’s explore the key skills that will empower you to face the challenges of college life and excel in the professional world.  

Effective communication skills  

Communication is at the heart of success in both college and the workplace. Focus on getting your ideas across, whether in written assignments, class discussions, or future workplace interactions. Practice active listening, express yourself with confidence, and develop skills to interact with classmates and coworkers. 

Managing your time 

You’ll need to manage your time well to succeed in college. Explore these tips to help you do it better. Whether you prefer a handwritten planner, using an app, or both, it’s essential to have a place to track tasks and dates. Here are some excellent apps that will help keep your task list organized: 

Additional tips

Managing your stress 

We’ve all experienced stress at one point or another. It can come in many forms, from an unexpected expense to an exam that you’re not sure you’re ready to take. But what exactly is stress?  

Stress is a feeling of discomfort, anxiety, or energy from an internal stressor (like worrying over something embarrassing you said) or external stressor (like an upcoming presentation in class). When this happens, the brain sends a signal to increase adrenaline and cortisol production. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens, your vision sharpens, and you get a jolt of energy. In small amounts, stress can help us focus and finish tasks. In large amounts, stress can be exhausting, negatively affect concentration and cause health problems. 

College is likely to introduce new stressors and surroundings. We can’t eliminate stress, but we can explore practices to recognize and manage it better. 

Stress management techniques 

Take a break 

  • Try stepping away from the situation and changing your scenery and focus. For example, if you’re studying for an exam and feel stressed, walk around the library and listen to a favorite song. By taking a break, your mind can reset and calm down before returning. 


  • Meditation can significantly reduce stress, especially when incorporated as a regular part of your routine. Search for free meditations for stress management online.  

Contact a friend or loved one 

  • Is there someone you can reach out to for support or connection? Depending on what you need, you can: 
  • Ask for general support by saying something like, “I’m having a tough day. Send memes, please.” 
  • Ask how they are doing.  
  • Share what you are going through with them.  
  • Let them know how grateful you are to have them or share a pleasant memory with them. 

Focus on gratitude 

  • Saying or writing down things you are grateful for can balance your focus. As a next step, you can reach out and thank people, letting them know that you are grateful for something that they have done. Sharing gratitude may release dopamine in the brain and boost your mood. 

Make a plan 

  • If you’re stressed about an event in the future, try breaking it down into tasks and subtasks that will help. Write these down and create a timeline. 

          Use mindful reflection 

          • Writing out or saying aloud what you feel can help bring emotions, thoughts, and ideas to the surface to work through. As you write or speak: 
          • Change negative self-talk to positive or neutral self-talk. 
          • Change value statements like “I am a bad person” to action statements, like “I did something bad because it hurt my friend’s feelings.” 
          • How would you talk to a friend or loved one if they were in your situation? Try to speak to yourself as if you’re a friend.  
          • Share some of your positive attributes and how they may help you in this situation. 
          • Use milder wording. 
          • Are there moments where you could use milder wording? For example, instead of writing, “I hate traffic. It’s the worst,” can you write, “Traffic is difficult, and I don’t like it.” 
          • Avoid limiting language. 
          • Instead of saying, “I can’t do this” or “I’ll never,” try saying, or writing, “I’m not sure, yet how I’m going to…” etc.  
          • Give yourself credit for context.  
          • When speaking or writing include details like “during COVID-19” or “while attending school full-time.” It’s common to be hard on ourselves by blocking out the contexts around us that take up energy and time.