What Are the Competencies Necessary for Success in College?

by Neil Kokemuller, Demand Media Google

Competencies are skills, knowledge, experience and behaviors that prepare you for success. College students rely on several common competencies to learn, get good grades and earn degrees. While you can develop many of these competencies, it is difficult to do so at the last minute when starting school.


Self-discipline is a must for college students. Strong discipline helps you get out of bed in the morning for an 8 a.m. class. It also helps you schedule and commit to the 30-plus hours of study and reading often necessary to perform well with a 15-credit schedule. With all of the distractions from social opportunities, jobs and personal life, you also need self-discipline to manage your time effectively and maintain balance in your life.

Reading and Writing Abilities

Whether you plan to earn a liberal arts degree or a technical degree in fields like marketing, science and engineering, you absolutely need reading and writing skills to make it through college. Schools typically rely on ACT, SAT or compass test scores to gauge your potential for success. They use your scores in admissions decisions. Colleges also may require or recommend remedial reading and writing for entering freshmen if your scores in these areas are low. Reading ability helps you learn and enables you to reference materials from textbooks. Writing abilities are necessary for basic homework assignments, essays, papers, some tests and projects.

Organizational Skills

Whether you are a naturally organized person or have to develop organizational skills, your chances for college success greatly improve if you are organized. An organized planner and schedule helps you maintain the necessary school-work-life balance. Organized class notes and files help you optimize your time because you won’t waste effort digging for loose papers and notes. You will also increase your ability to get assignments completed and turned in on time because of less potential for lost instructions and completed work.

Critical-Thinking Skills

A common challenge for new college students is changing the mindset that learning is memorizing terms and facts. A major purpose of college is to train young people to think critically and apply knowledge. Tests, for instance, are often application-based as opposed to demonstrations of rote memory skills. Rather than reciting a definition, you typically need to showcase an ability to apply a concept in a given situation. A marketing question might ask what a business owner should do in a given marketing dilemma for instance. Some students improve test-taking abilities through workshops and one-on-one training offered by college success centers.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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