9 Things You Must Learn to Do Before You Graduate

Self Taught Workplace Skills

Classroom
You can learn more than academics while in school. Lise Gagne / Vetta / Getty Images

There are certain skills you will need to have when you become part of the workforce. While they won't be included in any formal curriculum you will encounter while in school, you should make an effort to acquire them before you graduate. Here are nine of the skills you can learn as a student.

Learn to Be Independent

When you're a student it's very easy to rely on your parents to navigate through any rough waters on your behalf.

Many parents are willing to do this even if their children are already adults and living away from home. Don't let them. Keep in mind we're not talking about life threatening situations here but instead things like bad grades or roommate problems. Find out what channels you have to go through to solve the problem, come up with a plan and move forward.

Why Should You Do This? When you're working you will have to advocate for yourself. If you learn how to do this early on you will be a pro by the time you begin your first job.

Learn to Ask for Advice

Being independent doesn't mean you can't ask for advice from your teachers and parents. As an independent person you can evaluate the advice you receive and then decide whether you want to take it.

Why Should You Do This? Learning how to ask your parents and teachers for guidance will get you accustomed to asking mentors for advice once you are working.

And as with your parents and teachers, it will be up to you to evaluate and decide whether to take it.

Learn to Take Feedback

You may not want to hear criticism from your teachers but you should use that feedback to improve your performance. Generally, it's meant to help you, not put you down.

Why Should You Do This?

Learning how to take feedback—or even criticism—can help you get through a poor performance review from your boss. His or her feedback may not always be as well meaning as your teachers' was, but you can still use it to make changes to the way you do your work.

Learn To Be Prepared

In high school or college, get into the habit of always coming to class prepared. If you have a reading assignment, show up having completed it. If your professor wants to see a rough draft of a paper, bring it with you.

Why Should You Do This? This skill will serve you well at work. Your boss and your coworkers will appreciate your diligence.

Learn To Say No to Fun

You may be tempted to go to a good party even the night before an early morning class. You may think being tired—or hungover—won't matter, but it will hinder your performance.

Why Should You Do This? While you may be thinking "if I'm really out of sorts I can just hide in the back of the classroom," you won't be able to do that at work. Not only will you be expected to be present, you will have to perform well.

Learn to Be Assertive

You won't get what you want if you don't ask for it. When you get a grade you think is unfair, talk to your professor or teacher.

Explain the problem and have proof to back up your claim. This may not always work and you should be ready to accept defeat.

Why Should You Do This? You may have to ask your boss for a raise or a promotion. You may have to speak up for yourself in order to get what you want.

Learn to Ask for Help

When you have trouble completing an assignment ask your professor or teacher for help. Take advantage of tutoring which many schools offer. Attend extra help sessions and ask questions in class.

Why Should You Do This? While tutoring and extra help sessions may not exist in the workplace, you can always ask for help if you don't understand an assignment. It is better to do that than make mistakes that can delay the completion of a project or may be costly.

Learn to Solve Problems and Think Critically

When problems occur you may be tempted to wait for someone else to resolve them.

If you do that you won't be strengthening your problem solving and critical thinking skills. First you must identify the problem, brainstorm possible solutions and evaluate them in order to choose the best one. If you practice doing this, you will eventually become better at it.

Why Should You Do This? Most employers value these skills and, in life in general, it is hard to get by without them.

Learn to Manage Your Time

You will have a lot of work to do in high school and even more in college. Projects and assignments must be turned in on time or your teacher may subtract points from your grade. Why start off with a lower grade for the same amount of work? And you will learn, if you haven't already, that cramming for an exam is less effective than preparing for it well in advance. If you have trouble managing your time, or if you tend to procrastinate, you will have to make some improvements.

Why You Should Do This? If you always complete projects in a timely fashion, you will not only impress your boss, you will decrease your stress level. Rushing to complete a project in order to meet a deadline can be very stressful but failure to do so may cause you to lose your job.