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10 Life Skills They Don’t Teach In College (But Probably Should)

Though college coursework is fantastic in providing knowledge and mastery in specific subject areas, many curriculums do not teach “life skills” that are crucial...


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“Formal learning can teach you a great deal, but many of the essential skills in life are the ones you have to develop on your own.”

~Lee Iacocca

Demystifying “life skills”

Life skills are any type of skill that can be applied or used in your life. These vary depending on a person’s age, background, career, etc., and continue to change as you grow older and wiser. Whether you are job searching, dating, or throwing a dinner party, you need life skills in all aspects of your everyday living.

Unlike when students learn material through a college major, minor, or specific coursework within a field or niche, a large number of life skills are not traditionally taught. Instead, life skills often develop over time as a person matures, forcing the young population to learn these skills on their own. For example, effective money management is a life skill that everyone should master as early in life as possible.

Though college coursework is fantastic in providing knowledge and mastery in specific subject areas, many curriculums do not teach “life skills” that are crucial for thriving as a young adult in your 20s.

Unfortunately, it is an area that might go completely untouched or unnoticed because it wasn’t required in the high school or college curriculum (unless you are pursuing an Accounting degree, for instance). As a result, young people are essentially forced into a scenario where they need to develop these skills on their own or pay for professional help.

Important life skills

While a college degree is worth the investment, there are possibly hundreds of life skills that are not taught in school but should be for the student’s future benefit. The top 10 life skills recommended for you to develop are:

  1. Effective communication skills
  2. Money management (paying bills, taxes, credit cards, IRAs, etc.)
  3. Maintaining mental and physical health (cooking and eating healthy, exercise, self-care, etc.)
  4. Maintaining personal relationships (romantic, friends, family, etc.)
  5. Good manners and professional etiquette
  6. Basic insurance knowledge (health, home, car, etc.)
  7. Critical thinking skills
  8. Networking and building professional relationships
  9. Strong emotional intelligence
  10. Technical skills (using technology, safety skills, soft skills, etc.)
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Actionable Steps


Don’t get discouraged

Most life skills are not learned in a formal setting, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not a pro in each area. There is always room for growth!


Develop and grow

Take time to do some self-reflection and identify life skills that need some development. Allow yourself an opportunity to grow and learn, and stay open-minded and receptive to feedback.


Seek assistance and ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help in an area that you’re unfamiliar with – you are not in this alone. There are countless resources available to assist you with development and provide guidance: professional help, friends and family, coaches and mentors, and, of course, A Guide For Your 20’s.


Read the longer version

You can learn more about the life skills they don’t teach in college (but should) by reading the following articles, reviewed to be the best by our professionals: Life Skills, Important Life Skills The Employers Value, and 8 Real World Skills College Doesn’t Teach You.

About the Author

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Dr. Alyssa Harmon-Salter

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership

Alyssa holds an Ed. D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. For the last 7 years, she has mentored hundreds of college students on how to be successful academically and in prepping for a job.
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