College Students – Do They Have The Soft Skills They Need?

WRITTEN August 26, 2021 Author: Patricia McCormack

Please allow moment of contemplation as I think about the parallel between home life and work life. As we prepare to send our 18-year-old off to college, so many thoughts run through the mind.

Do they have enough clothes? Will they be warm enough this winter? Did we get the right sized sheets? Do they need a mini-fridge in the room? Will there be enough room for their stuff in the dorm? Will they pass?

And of course, the old standard – do they have the soft skills necessary to succeed?

Oh wait, does nobody think about that? Is that just me?what are soft skills

When sending your kids off to college the main focus tends to be on what HARD SKILLS they will get. Learn to be a doctor or nurse. Learn to be an engineer. Learn how to work in finance. College has always been about learning the skills required to succeed in the subject area of your choice.

What gets lost in the shuffle sometimes is the necessity of having the SOFT SKILLS to help relate to others and exist successfully in the workplace, as well as overall in society.  

SOFT SKILLS are non-technical skills that relate more with how you work as opposed to what you do. These skills focus more on how you interact with people, how you solve problems, and how you manage your responsibilities. Soft Skills more or less define how a person interacts within relationships with others.

Read these three soft skills to work on:


One of the best ways to improve communication skills in general is by building the writing skills. Writing helps you more clearly organize and express your thoughts, which will also the very important verbal communication. 


Employers like to see people who take initiative, who have leadership qualities. There are so many ways to develop this soft skill while in college. Group projects for classes always need a person on point. When joining a school club or organizations, volunteer to head committees or events. And as graduation gets closer, use internships to get real-world experience.

Time Management

College brings on so many responsibilities and requires the ability to focus on multiple projects. This is especially true for students who are balancing school with work. That is never easy. But learning to develop a higher level of discipline and how to plan to get things done will pay high dividends in life.

But seriously, why would a college student need to know that? 

You may think, “They are not in the workplace, they have plenty of time to fine-tune those skills!” Except, now that they are the adults who need to take charge, it is up to them to deal with roommates, lab partners, professors, study groups, and even the Registrar’s Office. Mom & Dad can’t always be there to smooth the road or unruffle feathers when needed.

The kids may not be familiar with the term Soft Skills, but employers know what they are and and look for them when making hiring decisions.

Communication, teamwork, and adaptability— and don’t forget conflict resolution, flexibility, leadership, time management, and problem solving. As we drive away after drop off, I know that fortunately, college will provide the chance to build these necessary skills.

Good Luck!  And take full advantage of this time to learn!

Learn this and more in our Staff Development classes. Or if you’re looking for ways to improve your other communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Other Resources for College Students / Soft Skills:

What are soft skills?

Hard Skills vs Soft Skills for College Students. Why Both Are Important

Image by Nikolay Georgiev from Pixabay 

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