Skills needed

higher education is a great time to develop your skills, both for life and study. WE HAVE PUT TOGETHER SOME OF THE KEY SKILLS YOU WILL BUILD ON


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

  • Note taking

    As a Higher Education student, you will be required to frequently take notes from your reading and from lectures. Trying to record every single word is a very difficult task and very time-consuming and so it’s important to find a note-taking technique that works for you. Generally, most techniques will require you to record the key points, then go back and summarise what you have learnt and then condense and organise your notes in a way that will be useful for you for writing assignments or revising for exams. There are various established techniques that you can adopt, such as Linear Notes, Cornell Notes or SQ3R. Some HE institutions provide recordings of lectures to students or students can often use digital voice recorders to ensure nothing is missed. HE institutions will also provide study skills support in the form of workshops or coaching. Assistive technology and equipment are also available and materials can be provided in alternative formats to support disabled students.

  • Referencing

    When writing assignments, you are expected to acknowledge the sources of information you use e.g. journals, books, videos or the web, within the text and also as a bibliography (an alphabetical list of sources at the end of your assignments). This demonstrates that you have researched the subject, considered others’ opinions, validated your arguments and drawn your own conclusions, while also enabling the reader to locate where you got the information from. By acknowledging sources of information, you are also avoiding plagiarism (presenting someone else’s work as your own), which can be illegal. It is important that you check with your HE institution which referencing standard they accept, e.g. Harvard, OSCOLA, Chicago, MLA.

  • Critical writing

    Writing at HE level requires you to think and write critically. This means analysing different sources of information by recognising an argument, evaluating evidence and drawing conclusions. HE institutions will often provide workshops to support you with this style of writing.

  • Presentation skills

    Depending on your course, you may be required to deliver a formal presentation either on your own or with a group. Delivering presentations, or public speaking is a common fear. HE institutions recognise this and can provide workshops or advice on building confidence and reducing presentation anxiety.

  • Research skills

    Research skills are likely to be required throughout your degree, however they become more prominent if your degree is project-based or when you come to write your dissertation (a long essay on a chosen subject) in your final year. Researching involves searching for and identifying appropriate literature or sources of information around the subject you are studying, formulating an idea, designing and conducting your research and analysing your data.

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

  • Problem solving

    Being able to think creatively, research, analyse and evaluate problems to come up with appropriate solutions is a life skill that can be used throughout your study, work and personal life. There are various ways that you can build problem solving skills prior to starting a HE course, e.g. through work experience/part-time work, volunteering, joining a club.

  • Team working

    Group work is often used in HE as it is an effective and efficient way to learn and is a skill often used in the workplace. Working in a team of people enables members to pool ideas, gain different perspectives and achieve more by drawing on the different experience, expertise and strengths of its members. It also allows members to learn from each other and develop skills in communication, organisation, leadership, supervision and delegation. You can start to develop team working skills through e.g. work experience/part-time work, volunteering, joining a club, playing a team sport.

  • Resilience

    Having the ability to adapt to adverse challenges can be invaluable at any time and in any circumstances in life, but it can be particularly valuable when studying. Although everyone has some resilience, it is a skill that can be learnt and developed. Resilience is built by increasing our self-awareness and learning from our experiences. Some easy ways to help increase resilience is by keeping a gratitude journal, using a mood checker phone app, meditating or practising mindfulness.

  • Time management

    Living and learning independently requires students to manage their time effectively. Students are responsible for managing their timetables and attending classes as well as fitting in any ‘extra-curricular’ activities and household chores. HE institutions often provide support in this area and there are several mobile phone apps that help you plan your time and set reminders.

  • Decision making

    Students are frequently required to make decisions of all kinds. This could be related to which course to study, where to live, how to utilise free time, what jobs to apply for, whether to take a placement year etc. There are various methods that can be used to help make those difficult decisions easier, e.g. using a SWOT analysis to evaluate your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in relation to your objective or seeking advice from school progression or careers advisers.

  • Budgeting and money management

    Most students will have to live on a limited income when studying at HE level, particularly if living away from home, therefore it is important to learn how to budget and manage your money effectively. It is a good idea to draw up a budget before you start your HE course in order to determine whether you will need to supplement your income through part-time work. You will find it easier to manage your money by regularly monitoring your expenditure and adjusting your budget accordingly. HE institutions often provide money management support and advice while studying, however if you are looking for support prior to starting, then Future Quest students can access the free online platform, Blackbullion by using the code: FutureQuest when registering.

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