Spring is just around the corner, and soon students will be taking college entrance exams and planning for life after high school. Unfortunately, research shows that most schools are not adequately preparing students for college and/or their careers. 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.

What can we do to help get students college- and career-ready? Academic readiness is key, but it’s only part of the equation. Social and emotional learning (SEL) is also important. Developing students’ social and emotional skills has been shown to improve academic performance and provide students with a solid foundation for achieving success in post-secondary environments and the workplace.

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

  1. Teamwork: In school and 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. Here are some fun games to teach students cooperation skills.
  1. Decision-Making: Employers rank strong problem-solving skills at the top of their list of desired traits in workers. In our ever-changing digital 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 a problem. Try these classroom activities to teach students critical thinking and problem-solving.
  1. Effective Communication: The ability to communicate clearly 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 talk so people listen.
  1. Organization: Whether it’s keeping track of lessons and assignments or managing duties and deadlines at work, students must demonstrate strong organization skills. Here are a few fun ways to help students learn to set routines and stay organized.
  1. Goal-Setting: 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 the workplace. Encourage students to think about their futures and set achievable goals with these tips.
  2. Self-Efficacy: Students need to know they can succeed. In fact, 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. It can also help them persevere through failure. Foster students’ self-efficacy by incorporating these strategies into your teaching.

Whether students choose a trade school, an apprenticeship, or a traditional college or university, we need to better prepare them for success. Schools and educators can teach students the social and emotional skills they need to thrive in post-secondary and workplace settings. Implementing SEL strategies now will lay the groundwork for long-term success.

Ready to learn more? Read our whitepaper, SEL and College and Career Readiness: A Pathway to a Lifetime of Success. Or contact our SEL experts to learn how to help students become college- and career-ready with SEL.