Life at university is very different from what students experience while at an International school. Sadly, many find it difficult to cope with this transition and end up dropping out before they can graduate. They can become overwhelmed with having to figure things out for themselves, more so in managing their academics and taking care of personal needs.
Whether they are coming from a boarding or day school, they will likely have led a life where there were always parents, teachers, or some other adult that guided and oversaw their activities and needs. Being suddenly plunged into a situation whereby they have to take responsibility for themselves and their actions is not something everyone succeeds at. Here are the key skills that teachers should seek to nurture in their students that will make them better prepared for life at university.
1. Growth mindset
Having a growth mindset means that you believe in the ability to learn and improve. Whether it is mastering a mathematical concept or learning a language, there are many ways you can help your students realise that making achievements means steady effort and sometimes learning to accept and overcome failures. The more consistent and persevering they are, the more they will be working towards their goals and achieving the reward they desire.
You can get started on teaching this skill by making classroom changes that allow you to shift from recognising their achievement in terms of results to acknowledging and encouraging their efforts. Even if they are focused on achieving a high goal, you can stead direct them to how much improvement they are making and challenge them to keep up the effort. This way, your students will learn that perseverance is its own reward, even if they have a faulty start.
2. Time management and organisation
Time management is a critical skill to have when at university. Students will no longer have their teachers or parents around to remind them to study, complete assignments or even get to class. They need to have an independent mindset that makes them responsible for planning their time and meeting their obligations as students.
They will also need to be organised for this. Keep in mind that it is not just academics they need to account for. They also need to plan their finances to ensure the budget they have been provided with will cover their needs for whatever set duration. If they end up also working while attending university or participating in extracurricular activities, they also need to find a balance that allows them to meet all their obligations, though studies should ideally take priority.
Students that learn time management and organisation skills also become more valued employees are they are better able to juggle multiple responsibilities. They also learn how to balance their work and home life.
You can get your students started in developing these skills by having them outline a plan for how they will tackle projects. Have them break down all the steps they will have to take from start to finish of the project and work out the amount of time they will need to allocate to each one.
3. Responsibility and self-motivation
Without supervision, university students have to become self-accountable. They need to take responsibility for everything from getting to their classes on time to food budget planning. This lifestyle is what helps set them up to become responsible and independent adults.
Parents can also help create more responsible teens by loosening the reins a little. Rather than always reminding your child to do their assignments, wake up on time, or take care of their school uniform, let them take responsibility and if they make a mistake, learn what the consequences are. The embarrassment or disappointment from such failures will often push them to do better and be more consistent and disciplined in their efforts.
Self-motivation requires students to be assertive, take ownership and problem-solve. They need to take the initiative to plan out their schedules, juggle responsibilities, and manage deadlines. They also need to plan for their social and work commitments.
Teachers can help students build these skills by encouraging them to plan for everything from how to study towards achieving higher grades to nurturing them as leaders in whatever roles they take up such as in group work or leading a debate team.
4. Communication skills
Many university courses will require that students not only attend class, complete assignments and pass exams. They may assign a percentage of their grade to class participation. This could be in the form of asking and answering questions and making presentations. This all requires having good communication skills.
Students may also find themselves needing to discuss certain issues with their professors, advisors, other staff members and classmates. They need to understand what situations qualify for formal and informal communication.
Teachers can help their students develop their communication skills by encouraging such behaviour in the classroom. Requiring students to ask or answer questions will make them more attuned to class participation. At the end of projects or reports, have the students make a class presentation and give them feedback on how they performed and tips on improving.
5. Resilience and confidence
Not everything will go according to plan, even for the highest-performing student in your class. Young people need to learn how to be flexible and adapt when living independently. They need to have confidence in their decisions and be willing to make changes if necessary.
They will encounter new situations without an adult to help and guide them along the way. Having a positive and open attitude to such situations can help them learn and thrive out of their comfort zones. With every opportunity to have a new experience, they need to be open-minded and confident.
You can help build these traits by encouraging your students to try new experiences and set more challenging goals for themselves. Equipping them with problem-solving skills and a positive mindset will help make them more enthusiastic and have confidence in themselves. They will become more mentally and emotionally able to take on the trials they will face while at university and beyond.