By the time you graduate from high school, chances are you’ve gotten many of the basics down in math, English and history. But what about computer skills? If you’re a little rusty on the keyboard, you’ll need to spend some time brushing up on these necessary skills because they play a huge role in day-to-day life on campus. Knowing your way around a computer is a must for any college student because schools rely heavily on this technology. Students use them for research and essays, faculty members use them to communicate with students, and most colleges even offer online courses that you can take from home.

Word Processing and Other Computer Applications

Having an understanding of word processing programs is a necessity for college students, who must turn in essays and other written works in a typed format. Unless your professor says you can use a typewriter, you need to know how to navigate your word processor. Basic skills to know are how to open a new document, type, use features within the program, save your file and then find it again after closing it. Other computer applications you may need to use in college include spreadsheets, presentation programs or how to upload files.

Research and Web Skills

Using the internet for research is another activity you’ll experience in college. You need to be able to locate information using a search engine and have the skills to do more advanced searches if necessary. Navigating within different websites and downloading files are also necessary computer skills to have. You should know how to create favorites and bookmarks online so you can easily locate important information, as well as save a web page or images you find online.

Web-based Classes

Many colleges also offer online or web-enhanced classes. These are often taken for their convenience since they don’t require students to be physically present 100 percent of the time. For this to be an option, however, you need to have basic computer and Internet skills to participate. Whether you’re taking a class that meets on campus half the time or not at all, you need to be able to get online, find your class’s URL and move within that site. You’ll also need to know how to access class materials and upload assignments for your instructor, as well as connect with other students in your class for online discussions.


Knowing how to use email is also an important computer skill for college students. Many professors ask their students to submit work via email, so knowing how to attach a file, compose an email and send it to the correct address is necessary. Likewise, opening an email and any attached documents, as well as how to reply or forward it, is something you should know. Email also comes in handy if you need to contact your instructors to ask a question or to let them know if you won’t be in class.