Personal Competencies for College & Career Success: What Colleges Can Do

Successfully completing college requires much more than obtaining academic knowledge and skills. A wide range of personal competencies and non-academic factors have an impact on students’ chances of persisting and completing a postsecondary credential or degree (Karp, 2011; Lotkowski, Robbins, & Noeth, 2004). Many of the competencies that students need for college success are also critical to career readiness and success (National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2015; College and Career Readiness and Success Center [CCRSC], 2013). For example, the College and Career Readiness and Success Center emphasizes the importance of five core social-emotional learning skills to perform well in both college and careers. These skills include self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making (Dymnicki, Sambolt, & Kidron, 2013).

Yet, many students enter college lacking the personal skills, knowledge, and attributes they need to make it through college. For this reason, postsecondary institutions’ efforts to increase student retention, completion, and career readiness need to include youth development and leadership opportunities that help students build personal competencies. This guide provides suggestions about various strategies postsecondary professionals can use to assist students in developing personal competencies that will increase their chances of success. Part I of this guide provides an overview of personal competencies that all students need for college and career success as well as additional competencies for students with disabilities. Part II describes what colleges can do to build student competencies.

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