The Transition from High School to College

Graduate Employability Skills

The transition from high school to college is often full of surprises for the unprepared.

Although there’s a set of skills that’s required in both contexts, college requires that you master more challenging study skills, including understanding and analyzing complex academic material, time management, and stress management.

In addition, you'll need to learn to become more of an independent student, as your teacher-based support system is usually less available in the higher levels of education.

Although not essential for high school, these principles are still useful during those years. What's more, by mastering these skills early on you'll set yourself up for success when you do get to college.

Advanced Study Skills

While there’s still a large amount of hand-holding in high school, once in college you will be expected to exhibit independent and advanced study skills, such as analyzing, researching, note taking, listening, and comprehension, to name a few.

During high school most projects will be short, but having mastered these study skills, your abilities will help you to do well during your high-stakes exams and do even better in any short projects you might be assigned to.

See the SkillsYouNeed Study Skills section for more.

Time Management

During high school you may already need great time management skills, but remember that your workload will only grow bigger the more you advance through your school years.

Learning to create schedules and sticking to them is crucial. For efficient time management you must learn to anticipate course needs and plan and study well in advance to avoid burnouts. Another skill that might contribute to better time management is speed reading.

Given how your study material will generally grow more difficult and lengthy, being able to read faster than the average student, without sacrificing comprehension, will save you a lot of time and keep stress at bay. Especially for college courses, speed reading will spare you the frustration of having to go through tons of literature and compulsory study material in a limited time, and let you stay ahead of your coursework responsibilities, all thanks to an efficient reading pace.

See our pages: Finding Time for Study and Time Management for more information.

Motivation and Self-discipline

While not academic skills per se, motivation and self-discipline are two skills and virtues you must cultivate during your high school years. Both high school and college are stressful times with a lot of duties and expectations for students, so being able to find motivation and practice discipline are vital to your success.

During your college years, where you will be more independent, being able to objectively assess your studying behavior will let you stay within schedule and do well in your exams and coursework.

See our pages Self-Motivation and Personal Development for more details.


Many colleges follow a lecture model of teaching. Most of your classes will be in vast auditoriums along with as many as 300 hundred other students. Being able to take notes efficiently is the basis for academic success.

Note-taking is a demanding skill. If you learn it during high school, your skill will improve your exam scores and help you to study with less effort during college. Note-taking has to be intelligent, selective, and critical. It requires practice and a lot of focus on your part to take meaningful notes that will later assist and guide your studying.

See our pages: Note-Taking for Lectures and Note-Taking for Reading to help develop effective note-taking techniques.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

Skills You Need

Develop the skills you need to make the most of your time as a student.

Our eBooks are ideal for students at all stages of education, school, college and university. They are full of easy-to-follow practical information that will help you to learn more effectively and get better grades.

In Summary...

These skills are not only useful for those students in high school and those who are college bound; in fact, many career paths will expect you to have mastered these skills to be an efficient and productive employee.

The key is to start early. Ask around your school for any classes or seminars on note-taking, researching, and time management. You can also see if your local community center offers such classes you can join.

Finally, remember that a library is always a good resource; visit your library for some textbook knowledge on how to master these skills.

About the Author

Chassie Lee is the Content Expert for eReflect – creator of Vocab1 which is currently being used by tens of thousands of happy customers in over 110 countries.