6 Ways SEL Boosts College and Career Readiness

Spring is almost here, and soon students will be taking college entrance exams and planning for life after high school. Research shows most schools are not doing enough to help students succeed after high school. Students often struggle with post-secondary coursework, and many lack the social and emotional skills needed to thrive in higher education and their chosen career paths.

Whether students choose a trade school, an apprenticeship, or a traditional college or university, we need to better prepare them for success. College and career readiness depends on academic readiness, but this is only part of the equation. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is also important. Developing students’ social-emotional skills has been shown to improve academic performance and provide students with a solid foundation for achieving success in post-secondary environments and in the workplace.

Here are six ways to increase students’ college and career readiness with SEL:


One of the most important social-emotional skills students need is the understandingthat they can succeed. Their belief in their ability to succeed can impact how successful they become. Confidence can determine which activities students choose to participate in (or opt out of), how much effort they put in, and how long they persist. Self-efficacy can also help them persevere through failure. Help students develop a strong sense of self-efficacy by incorporating these strategies into your teaching.


In school and in the workplace, students need strong relationship skills. They must have the ability to work collaboratively, and their success often depends on being a team player. Try these fun games to teach students cooperation skills.


Employers rank strong problem-solving skills at the top of their list of desired traits in workers. In our ever-changing world, students need to be able to apply knowledge in creative and constructive ways. They need to learn from others and from their own experiences and apply critical thinking to solve problems. Teach students critical thinking and problem-solving with these classroom activities.


Whether it’s keeping track of lessons and assignments or managing duties and deadlines at work, students must demonstrate strong organizational skills. Here are a few fun ways to help students learn to set routines and stay organized.

Effective Communication

The ability to clearly communicate is essential to students’ success throughout their lives. Communication depends on listening, emotional regulation, and critical thinking. SEL helps students develop the skills needed to be effective communicators. When talking about elements of effective communication with students, share this powerful TED Talk on how to speak so that people listen.


Earning a college degree or completing a post-secondary program is a big commitment. It’s important to teach students how to set goals and create a plan to achieve those goals. This way, they will have experience working toward a goal and will be more likely to stay on-course in college and in the workplace. Encourage students to think about their futures and set achievable goals with these tips.

Schools and educators can better prepare their students for life after high school by teaching the social-emotional skills that students need in order to thrive in post-secondary and workplace settings. Implementing SEL strategies now will lay the groundwork for long-term success.

Ready to learn more? Download our whitepaper, SEL and College and Career Readiness: A Pathway to a Lifetime of Success, by filling out the form below.

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