Skills needed

Higher Education is a fantastic opportunity for you to develop a multitude of skills, both for life and for study. Below is a guide we’ve put together that lists some of the key skills you’ll be building upon.

Study skills that you will develop in the classroom and lecture hall

  • Note taking

    Note taking is essential as a higher education student, from your reading, to lectures and beyond. With that said, trying to record every single detail can be a very difficult and time consuming task, so it’s important you find a note-taking technique that works for you.

    The majority of techniques involve identifying and recording key points, and then summarising what you’ve learnt, condensing that information, and organising your notes in a way that will be useful for writing assignments or exam revision. Some established note taking techniques include Linear Notes, Cornell Notes or SQ3R. Many higher education institutions now provide students with recorded lectures for those who couldn’t make a particular in person session, which can be great for note taking. As well as this, HE institutions also provide study skills support, often in the form of workshops or coaching. Also available is assistive technology and equipment, as well as materials available in alternative formats to help support disabled students.

  • Referencing

    With written assignments, you are expected to acknowledge any information you use, whether that’s journals, books, videos of web sources, within your own text, known as a bibliography. As well as this generally being a compulsory component to your assignments, bibliographies demonstrate that you have researched the subject in depth, by considering others’ opinions, whilst using this information in validating your own arguments, and drawing out your conclusion from it. It is also a way of enabling the reader to locate the information.

    By creating bibliographies, you are also avoiding plagiarism (the act of presenting others’ work as your own), which can be an illegal move within your institution. As well as this, it’s important to take note of which references standard your course uses, as this ranges from course to course. The usual standards include Harvard, OSCOLA, Chicago and MLA.

  • Critical writing

    Writing at a degree level requires you to think and write critically. This means you need to analyse a range of different sources of information by acknowledging an argument, evaluating any evidence, and drawing your own conclusions from them. Many universities offer workshops to help you develop this particular and sometimes tricky style of writing.

  • Presentation skills

    As part of your course, you may be required to deliver a formal presentation, either by yourself or with a group, as part of an assignment. Delivering presentations and public speaking is a very common fear, and nothing to be ashamed of. Universities recognise this and often provide workshops centred around confidence building and reducing presentation anxiety. For more severe cases, presentations can be altered slightly, for example, only presenting to your lecturer instead of a whole class. We encourage you to speak to your lecturers early on about any anxiety revolving around presenting.

  • Research skills

    In any degree, research skills are essential to almost every piece of work, especially if your degree is project-based, and more-so when it comes to your dissertation. Research skills involves learning how to effectively discover credible literature or sources of information around the topic of study, formulating an idea around it, then following that up with your own research and analysing your own data.

Life skills that you will develop in the classroom, lecture hall and beyond

  • Problem solving

    Developing your creative, analytical, and critical thinking skills will allow you to evaluate problems and come up with appropriate and effective solutions. This is an essential skill that will be used across your study, work, and personal life.

    There are a range of ways you develop these problem-solving skills, even prior to starting a higher education course. For example, any work-experience, volunteering, or extracurricular activities will allow you to build upon all of these skills, often without you even realising!

  • Team working

    You’ll often find group work used in courses across the board, as it’s an effective and efficient way to learn, and is skill commonly used in the workplace. Working with others allows you to pool ideas, gain various perspectives, and generally achieve more by drawing on different experiences, expertise, and strengths. Learning from one another helps to develop your physical and verbal communication skills, as well as organisational skills, and leadership, supervision, and delegation skills.

  • Resilience

    As a skill that allows you to adapt to a myriad of challenges throughout your life, resilience is essential, and especially invaluable when it comes to study. Resilience can be built by increasing self-awareness, through learning and experience. Other ways include maintaining a ‘gratitude journal’, or using mood checker apps, meditating or practising mindfulness.

  • Time management

    For many, university life will consist of living and learning independently, which is something you may or may not be used to. In any case, being able to manage your time effectively, either via diaries, calendars, or mobile alerts, time management is an essential part of life post 18. Managing your timetable well, including your classes, any extracurricular activities and of course, household chores, will help you be the most efficient you can be. Higher education institutions will often provide plenty of support in this area, from workshops, to advisors, and even mobile apps.

  • Decision making

    As a student, you’ll be faced with decision making at several points, from your course, to where you live, how you use your free time and what jobs you apply for. Further on, you might be considering placement years, gap years, or even more vital decisions. There are a range of methods you can use to aid your in those difficult decision-making processes, with an effective example being the SWOT analysis method. You can use this method to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in relation to your decision. Of course, another effective method is communication; seeking advice from careers advisors is always a good option.

  • Budgeting and money management

    Living away from home will usually involve a limited income whilst studying at a HE level. With that in mind, it’s vital that students learn how to budget and mange their money effectively. Drawing up a budget before you start your course will help you decide if you may need to consider part time work whilst in university, and continuing to monitor your spending and adjusting your budget accordingly will help you more than you know in the long run.

    Almost all universities will offer budget guides and advice on money management, and with the cost of living also effecting student life, more services are being put in place to support students across the country. If you’re a Future Quest student, you can access Blackbullion by using the code FutureQuest when registering to seek advice on budgeting before starting your course. You can find the Blackbullion site here.