Life Skills to Build Before Starting College

See also: Improving Self-Esteem

College is an excellent place to learn skills you can carry with you for the rest of your life. Earning your degree doesn’t just give you an opportunity to develop technical skills you can use in your ideal career. You can also work on independent and soft skills, from becoming excellent with communications, to developing your abilities as a leader. However, before you dive into the wonderful world of college education, it’s also worth working on a few helpful life skills too.

Today, we’re going to look at just some of the most valuable skills you can develop before you start your degree.

Money Management

One of the first and most important skills any student should prioritize when heading to college, revolves around money management. You’ll have a limited amount of cash available to you as a college student. This means you need to know how to create a stick to a budget carefully, how to assess your spending habits, and how to reduce the costs of important purchases. You may even need to think about how you’re going to handle lines of credit to assist you throughout your education. A student credit card can be a valuable resource when you’re low on cash and facing an emergency, but you’ll need to make sure you’re choosing the right one. Learning how to select the right student credit cards can be vital to your future financial success.

Laundry and Cleaning

With a little luck, you will have already begun to develop some basic life skills around cleaning and laundry while living at home with your parents. However, if you’re still not entirely sure how a washing machine works, or how you can remove stains from clothing, now could be a good time to find out. Speak to your parents or guardians if you’re not sure. Alongside laundry skills, it’s also worth developing your cleaning skills in general. Learning which materials to use to clean certain parts of your apartment or dorm room will help you to create a safer, more hygienic living space for both you and your roommates during college.


Everyone, college student or not, should know how to create a safe, nutritious meal or two. If you’re not particularly interested in cooking or recipes, learning how to whip up a dinner might not seem particularly exciting, but it’s an important part of looking after yourself. Taking some time to learn how to make cheap, but delicious meals can even save you some money in the long-term. As well as learning how to cook, you should also look for ways to manage your food spending as effectively as possible. Planning meals in advance can be a great way to reduce overspending at the supermarket. Plus, you can even cook and freeze meals for times when you don’t have a lot of energy or time to spend in the kitchen.

Time Management

Time management and organization skills are something you’ll continue to develop throughout your life, both at college, and when you’re pursuing your career. However, it’s worth learning the basics before you head to college. After all, the chances are you’ll have a busy schedule of classes, recreational activities, and studying sessions to deal with. If you decide to get a part-time job to earn extra income, then you might have even more trouble making sure you can create time for everything in your calendar. Learn how to prioritize tasks and segment your days so you’re using your time as effectively as possible. You might even decide to experiment with project management and calendar tools to help you.


If you’re moving away from home to pursue your education, this could be the first time in your life you’re going to be living in a completely independent space. Although your friends and family members may still be there to offer support, it’s up to you to make sure you’re investing enough time into looking after your health, both physical and mental. Pay attention to your physical health, and invest in things like regular exercise, nutritious eating, and a consistent sleeping schedule. It’s also important to focus on keeping your mental health stable, particularly when you encounter stressful or anxiety-provoking situations. Know where you can turn for help if your coping methods aren’t working for you.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is an often-overlooked skill for students, but it can be extremely valuable. Knowing how to set goals that are smart and realistic ensures you can maintain high levels of motivation during difficult times and stay focused on your targets. Good goal setting abilities will also ensure you can be as productive as possible with your time and activities. Remember, you can set both long-term and short-term goals in your life. Each day you might give yourself a new goal to accomplish, such as finishing a chapter in your course book. However, in the long-term, you might focus more on things like getting an internship or letter of recommendation.


Finally, one of the most important skills you’ll need both in college, and in life, is the ability to communicate well with others. This means you shouldn’t just know how to speak to someone face-to-face, but how to use body language to your advantage, and write emails or letters too.

Good communication skills will help you to collaborate more effectively with your peers when you’re working on tasks together. It can also ensure you make the right impression on admission officers, employers, and the leaders of internship programs.

Developing Essential Skills as a Student

Though you’ll develop skills during your years as a student, it’s important to ensure you have the right capabilities and characteristics before you dive into your education. Harnessing and building the skills above can ensure you can get more out of your time as a student, build the right relationships with your peers and hone your independence. You might even find they make it easier for you to get the job of your dreams when you start applying for employment opportunities too.