If you have a vision of one day walking across a stage to accept your college degree, chances are you’ve already been working on boosting your GPA, getting a great SAT score and maximizing your financial aid options. To sweeten your chances of getting into one of your favorite colleges, you probably have been rounding out your studies with extracurricular activities too.
While that’s all good, it’s important to develop the life skills that will make you a successful college student — right up until you graduate. Unfortunately, studies show that nearly half of college students in America drop out before earning their degrees. Although numerous issues come into play with college dropout rates, there are steps you can take to avoid joining the statistics.
To increase your chances of making it through college, work on life skills that not only boost your chances of gaining admission — but will make it possible for you to reach the finish line. Here are five areas you should think about developing outside your high school classroom.
Many adults haven’t quite figured this one out yet; the earlier you start learning how to budget, the better. It helps you resist making bad financial decisions in the future. If you have income from a part-time job or receive an allowance from your parents, start setting aside a portion for savings and determining how much you should spend on clothing, eating out, entertainment, etc. Use tools like mint.com to keep track of your expenses. Develop good financial habits now to help you manage your college funds wisely.
You’ve heard it before: Colleges are looking for students who are inspired to make a difference in the world through volunteer efforts. However, don’t rush into volunteer service just to get those hours on your resume and application. Take the time to really think about what moves you. Are you concerned about world hunger? Animal welfare? Literacy? Look for agencies that specialize in those areas. Also consider volunteer activities that tie into your educational goals. If you aspire to work in international relations, for example, consider opportunities to volunteer abroad in impoverished areas throughout South America, Asia and Africa.
As it turns out, mom was right. Don’t skip breakfast, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. According to a study, students performed significantly better on tests if they exercised first. Besides, who wants to gain the dreaded Freshman 15 — those extra pounds students are known to put on after making the transition to college? Get in the habit of developing good diet and exercise habits before you hit campus. Those good habits can stay with you throughout your life.
Good Study Habits
Contrary to common belief, it’s not necessary to seclude yourself in a quiet room to get the best results with your studies and homework. You may find that mixing it up will actually work in your favor. According to a New York Times article, college students retained more when alternating the rooms in which they study. Likewise, it helped to study various but related skills in one sitting instead of trying to focus only on one subject at a time. Find out what works best for you. Just make sure that you are consistent. Start developing good study habits now; don’t allow distractions to stand in the way of your study schedule.
There are plenty of other skills you can start developing now to help you through college and throughout your career, from time management to public speaking. Whether you learn these skills in the classroom or not, consider them as an essential part of your personal and professional development.
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