8 Essential Personal Management Skills
College Students Should Have Before Graduating

See also: Emotional Intelligence

College teaches plenty of essential skills such as financial management, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving. However, after graduation, most college graduates find themselves wishing they learned more life skills.

Simple tasks like using e-signature software, writing better presentations, basic self-management, or even paying bills aren't taught at school, but these are skills you need to navigate life, work, and adulthood after college.

Three young female graduates.

Below, we've presented the essential personal management skills that college students should master before graduating and stepping out into the real world.

What Are Personal Management Skills?

81% of recent college graduates wish they learned better life skills before their graduation. Strong personal management skills allow individuals to control their lifestyles, set goals independently, and take the initiative. Personal management skills can help direct their career trajectory and push them closer to their goals for students or graduates.

When you step out of college, you become an adult expected to be both self-aware and aware of your surroundings in a manner that depicts both adulthood and self-preservation and maintains a healthy lifestyle. You can't achieve this if you don't have personal management skills. Learning or personal management skills is key to successful adulthood and employability.

Personal Management Skills for College Graduates

You'll need the following personal management skills for your everyday personal and professional life and to help you achieve interpersonal relationships.

Personal organization skills

Personal organization begins at a young age and extends to life and work, but it's also something that can be learned and applied. Organization involves keeping a clean space, planning and prioritizing your work, and self-management. You use organizational skills to your mental capabilities, time, physical space, and even energy to establish neatness, improve functionality and enhance productivity.

Organization at work and home affects how you feel about yourself and impacts many aspects of your life. If you are well-organized, you're able to plan, prioritize and execute important activities, helping you self-manage your essential workplace responsibilities. It will build your confidence and self-esteem to help you overcome barriers and learn to accept your strengths and weaknesses, and improve your personal presentation, physical appearance, and communication.

Communication and presentation

Communicating in real life is different from communication at school or at home, especially if you're a professional or entrepreneur. Effective communication and presentation, whether spoken, written, or non-verbal,  can be challenging for many people. They are vital in every form of interaction such as interviews, work with investors, weddings, teams, or even school for your children.

As a graduate attending interviews, conferences, seminars, or seeking investment resources, this is a skill that you need to pass your message across and even receive vital information. Some of the things you can do to improve your communication and presentation are:

  1. Present yourself well
  2. Prepare effectively
  3. Always communicate with confidence
  4. Understand your audience
  5. Be clear about your message
  6. Never overrun your allocated time


Self-control involves being self-aware and controlling oneself by mastering one's desires, feelings, behaviors, and actions. Strong self-control leads to better decisions and actions, including:

  1. Self-preservation
  2. Self-regulation
  3. Self-assertion
  4. Self-fulfillment
  5. Social skills

As an adult, self-control is about balancing what you need and what you want through emotional intelligence and self-awareness. With self-control, you can work better as part of a team, have confidence, manage your time, manage your finances and set a path to achieve your goals.

Reflective practice

Life outside school needs a combination of self-control and reflective practice. Reflective practice involves thinking about one's thoughts and actions to make a decision, and engaging in continuous learning and adaptation. Thinking about your actions is part of being an adult, and a requirement for a better life and work and to support your future self-control. Once you develop the habit of reflective practice, you'll find it important for your self-awareness and creative thinking both at work and at home.

Setting goals

In life, you need proper, well-defined goals in regards to your financials, career, relationships, and time. Goal setting involves identifying the end objective of everything you get involved in within a clear outline. At work, goal setting is vital to help you determine the important steps to achieve certain objectives within a specified time. You'll need to set clear goals to keep you motivated and focused as you navigate through life and define your career.

Time management

While in school, the system helps you manage your time because you have assignments to complete, term dates, and projects. The way we manage our time directly influences our feeling and productivity. If you manage your time well, you'll finish your tasks and feel more motivated, productive, and self-confident. You'll need to prioritize tasks, avoid distractions, maintain your focus, and organize yourself for maximum benefit at work. Some of the time management skills that can support you in life are:

  1. Using the priority index
  2. Keeping a to-do list
  3. Avoiding procrastination
  4. Keeping things into perspective


Assertiveness isn't about being arrogant, aggressive, or passive. It's a skill that involves understanding yourself and protecting or communicating your opinions, beliefs, and values in a confident but respectful way, without allowing others or circumstances to take advantage of you. Assertiveness skills are essential in interviews, negotiations, relationship boundaries, parenting, teamwork, and conflict resolution. You need these skills to help you come out strong in every situation in life and work without being overwhelmed by circumstances.

Stress management

As an adult, you'll have demands that you'll constantly need to balance, including family, work, money, health, career, and relationships. Jobs or businesses will require you to work under pressure, and a lack of stress management can destabilize your life, affect your productivity and even make you ill. You need stress management skills to help you stay calm in stressful situations and support your attitude towards life and career. Stress management skills can take many forms, including:

  1. Self-motivation
  2. Exercise
  3. Maintaining a healthy diet
  4. Meditation
  5. Journaling your experiences

Proactively managing career and workplace stressors will help you stay calm on the job and keep up with your productivity. You need to develop skills and means to handle stress before it becomes a serious life issue to allow you to focus on your life and work goals. Effectively managing stress helps you manage your actions and emotions and keep a professional demeanor at the workplace.

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Personal Development

Learn how to set yourself effective personal goals and find the motivation you need to achieve them. This is the essence of personal development, a set of skills designed to help you reach your full potential, at work, in study and in your personal life.

The second edition of or bestselling eBook is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skills and learning potential, and it is full of easy-to-follow, practical information.


While school teaches us a lot, there are life skills that you need to learn by yourself for your own self-management. These skills will help you navigate life after college and improve your personal development and empowerment.

About the Author

James Allison oversees content writing services at Globex Outreach.