Colleges

Developing Soft Skills with College Students

It is increasingly apparent that students in college today, whether they are coming to campus straight out of high school or jumping into online courses later in life, need to develop the 21st-century soft skills vital for success in the modern-day workplace.

Naturally, there are a number of ways to do this. The best way is driving “hands on” applications of what’s learned in the classroom. This reinforces in-class learning by allowing it to adapt to the work students will be doing once they graduate.

Working with partners and platforms that scale the accessibility of these opportunities is an effective way to accomplish this.

The following are some of the most important soft skills you should help your students build.

Being Empathetic

Understanding our feelings and those of the people around us is a foundational skill that everyone needs. It informs all of our interactions with other people and allows for us to create more positive spaces. To build this, a big first step is awareness of the actions we take impacting other people, even if we’re not intending it. Interacting with more people and different people on a consistent basis helps with this. Student leaders will foster this development naturally, but it is important to scaffold to ensure that it is done in a meaningful way where feedback can be openly and constructively shared.

Communicating Clearly

Whether you’re a student org president, peer tutor, resident assistant, or orientation leader, communicating clearly is crucial. This is something a little more specialized and harder to foster unless you’re seeking it out. We all have a hard time conveying our ideas from time to time. What’s important is getting constructive feedback in the moment so we know how to improve for next time. This can be aided by having a user friendly platform to facilitate this feedback, in order to incentivize and aid growth.

Working in a Team

Last but certainly not least, is making sure students are developing the capacity to work better together. Sometimes, it’s simply the tools getting in the way, so making sure there is a platform students are equipped with to facilitate this is a big help. This can mean a place to store documents, engage members, manage events, etc. In addition, we need to engage students in challenging “groupthink”, allowing for everyone to speak, and getting mutual investment in decisions being made.

As higher ed professionals, we shouldn’t just thrust students into leadership experiences. They need to be facilitated properly so that we can make sure that they are positive learning opportunities. They also need to focus on the soft skills that are often lacking in the classroom. We already know that student leaders make awesome hires and excellent employees for a number of reasons. Soft skill development is a big part of this.

Written by Dustin Ramsdell

Dustin helps students succeed everyday in his role as a Student Success Lead at Noodle Partners. He is also a proud geek as well as a higher ed blogger, and podcaster. He loves craft beer, good movies, and deep conversations. Connect with him on Twitter or over at his blog.