Most of the 1.7 million students who completed the ACT college entrance exam in 2012 were not adequately prepared for higher education or today's workforce, according to a report released by ACT. Although many states have implemented a variety of programs and initiatives to help prepare students for success, high school graduates continue to lack the necessary skills needed for economic success. Considering the current economic state, providing students with skills such as communication, reasoning, self-management, and problem solving can positively affect both their academic and financial success.


High school graduates must be able to communicate both verbally and nonverbally, including the abilities to read, write, speak and listen effectively. In addition to this, students need to adequately apply their communication skills to group settings, demonstrating their ability to consider the perspectives of others as well as give and receive positive feedback. As high school graduates interact with others, they should be able to successfully manage conflict, model positive behavior and organize the behavior of others.


Transitioning into higher education and the workforce, high school graduates must have reasoning skills to sufficiently address challenging decisions and problems. When using logical reasoning, students should be able to make inferences, recognize assumptions and identify fallacious reasoning. In addition to this, students must know how to evaluate claims and the evidence used to support them. When students have higher-level reasoning skills, they will be able to evaluate all forms of media and arguments presented to them. Through reasoning, students also will be able to discern the difference between sound arguments and fallacious arguments, allowing them to recognize assumptions and bias within speech and writing.


As students develop, they should be able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. When completing tasks, students should have the ability to determine the difficulty of each task as well as implement alternative strategies to complete these tasks. In order to complete tasks such as school assignments or career responsibilities, students need self-management skills such as time management, flexibility and stress management. When students know how to manage their time, they can plan their daily routines and be better prepared for each daily task. As students attempt to complete daily tasks, they also should know how to deal with daily distractions while responding flexibly to unexpected situations. Assuming the responsibilities of school and careers, high school graduates must know how to manage their stress as they experience the challenges of each day.

Problem Solving

Everyday people encounter situations that require problem solving such as having a question that needs to be answered or facing a difficult task that needs to be completed. High school graduates must be able to identify problems as well as propose possible solutions. Students will be required to use higher-level problem solving skills to determine the overall feasibility and effectiveness of each possible solution, allowing them to then select the best possible solution. The ability to successfully approach, analyze and solve a problem can directly impact future success.