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10 abilities every student should have before heading to college
MONDAY, AUGUST 04, 2014 11:04 AM

Ideally, school should help prepare kids for their college and career experiences. At least, getting kids ready for their futures is one of the goals of the Common Core State Standards. By taking students through challenging content, teaching them to think critically and guiding them through math and English/language arts courses, the Common Core is designed to ensure students are ready to move on when they graduate. Colleges look for specific traits when assessing applications, so students must exhibit those qualities. Here's a list of the top 10 abilities students should have before they march to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance:

1. Good time management 
While students may feel overwhelmed during high school, the stress is good practice for college. The work they take home from their professors is far more challenging than what they faced in high school. Students will have to learn to balance their social lives with their academic ones.

2. Critical thinking 
Work at the college level requires constant analysis, so students must know how to think critically before they arrive. Between asking relevant questions, completing research assignments, doing projects and taking exams, students must know how to break down information and use it effectively. Fortunately, the Common Core focuses heavily on teaching students to think critically. 

3. Goal setting
It's easier to achieve a goal if you know what it is. For this reason, recent high school grads should know how to set goals and work toward meeting them. For instance, students might prepare for college by making a to-do list of all the homework assignments they have. They can then make goals to help them complete the work. Students should know how to write a series of goals that will help them reach their larger goal.

4. Note taking
College lecture courses contain a lot of information that may come at a fast pace, but being able to take good notes will help students succeed. This is a skill many pick up in high school, though students can work to improve upon their ability. For starters, studies have shown that taking notes by hand rather than a computer is more effective, so students should stick to paper and pen. Many colleges and high schools offer after-school workshops on how to improve note-taking skills. 

5. Independent study
No one will push a college student to do their homework. Students who slack off will just receive a poor grade. During their time in elementary, middle and high school, students should learn how to study on their own, without the motivation provided by interested teachers and parents.

6. Self motivation
Getting up for an early class can be challenging, which means students should be able to motivate themselves by the time they graduate high school. Furthermore, many will be tempted to forgo homework for a night out with friends. Knowing how to muster the energy and focus to work on school subjects when they would rather be lazy or procrastinate is a must.

7. Test taking
Students who attend schools that have adopted the Common Core learn to take standardized exams - taking such tests is part and parcel to the Standards. Students should be familiar with different types of questions (i.e., multiple choice, true/false and essay) when they arrive on campus.

8. Organization
Keeping track of assignments, test dates, class schedules and social events requires organizational skills. Students must learn to monitor their lives before heading off to college. They can learn to make use of organizational tools, such as calendars and assignment books.

9. Communication
Knowing how to communicate effectively can come in handy when students must work in groups or talk to their professors.

10. Healthy living
Between late-night snack runs and dorm food, eating healthy and exercising regularly requires discipline. Students should learn how to prioritize their health while they're young so that college diet management will be easier.