Nonacademic skills are essential to a student’s college and career readiness

In a recent Education Week article, writer Sarah D. Sparks brings attention to a change in curriculum from academic to nonacademic skills. An average of two out of five traditional college students and more than half of nontraditional students take at least one remedial class. Higher education administrators report incoming students are often ill-equipped cognitively, socially and emotionally upon entering college. The Obama administration is responding to the these problematic numbers by relieving subject-matter classes as the main predictor of college success and placing an emphasis on college and career readiness curriculums and setting national education-based goals, like having the most college-educated adults in the world by 2020.

“The problem is college eligibility was what we focused on previously, not readiness; we haven’t really defined what ‘readiness’ means,” said Elena Silva, a senior policy analyst with Education Sector. “We focused on whether they have the course credits, the time spent … and that’s important, but we haven’t figured out if they have what they need to be really college-ready.” Research found the cognitive and social-emotional skills students need to advance in college and career can be taught in a classroom setting like academic subjects. Yet, creating readiness programs from scratch often taxes school resources, schedules and budgets

Turnkey curricula that teach and assess these cognitive and non-cognitive skills are available through LifeBound’s portfolio of transition and college and career readiness programs.  With specific skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, self-understanding and management as well as perseverance, students learn to create a vision for themselves utilizing the qualities commonly identified in successful students.

Researchers at Michigan State University in East Lansing, along with similar studies, found the greatest predictor of a student’s success is conscientiousness, which is defined by having traits like dependability, perseverance in tasks, and work ethic. Also, agreeableness was another sign of success, which included teamwork, emotional stability, and an openness to new experiences. LifeBound’s publications, MAKING THE MOST OF HIGH SCHOOL and MAJORING IN THE REST OF YOUR LIFE address these issues and give educators the resources to teach these behaviors and skills to high schoolers while offering student guidance for exploring and strengthening these skills independently.

With the winter break approaching its end and second semester and graduation imminent, the application of non-cognitive skills will greatly assist with these transitions. Click here to learn more about LifeBound’s entire library, or here to sign up for our newsletter for the latest news and book offers.

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