5 Essential Skills Every Teenager Needs to Succeed

As teenagers approach college age, it can be easy to zero in on making sure they’re doing what they can to get into a good university.

Beyond academics, though, are the softer skills – the life skills we need to do well in college, in the work world, and beyond.

But these skills shouldn’t be afterthoughts – the earlier you get your teen to start practicing them, the more successful they’ll be.

So read on to find the life skills some that are most important for your teenager’s success.


Have you ever wondered why so many listicles offer dozens of productivity hacks and tips?

Well where there’s a supply, there’s probably demand – and the truth is many of us didn’t buckle down on our procrastination until we were already at university or working full-time.

Time-management is important at any point in your life, but it gets more and more vital as you get older.

At university, the most successful students balance heavy course loads with a job, extracurricular involvement, volunteering – or all of the above.

So if your teen can learn to manage time before entering college, they’ll already have a leg up.


They say time is money, and while that might not literally be true, one quality that’s shared between them is how important it is to budget properly.

Teenagers should know how to make a monthly (or weekly) budget before they move out, as they’ll soon have to make smart decisions about when they can go out – and when they need to save for food, rent, books, or anything else.

To facilitate this, it’s important that your teen works a summer or two during high school – after all, if they’ve never had an income, they’ve never had to think about what to do with it.

Of course, they might be uncomfortable with budgeting because they feel they aren’t great at maths – an important skill in and of itself.

If they’re less than confident about their maths knowledge, though, making a regular budget provides a good opportunity for practice with real-life relevance.


As real life kicks in, knowing how to take care of yourself becomes increasingly important.

Many university students resort to unhealthy lifestyles because they either don’t know how to budget appropriately – or they’ve never been responsible for themselves.

Self-reliance is a skills that must be built piece by piece.

It can start with having your teenager do essential chores, such as laundry, but it should also include things like making their own appointments and navigating public transportation.

As you push them to take more responsibility for themselves, they’ll grow accustomed to it – making things much easier on them once they’ve moved to university or joined the workforce.

Communication – especially written

It’s pretty much a given that your teenager will have to learn to talk to people face-to-face if they’re to be successful.

But while oral communication is important, don’t skimp on helping your teenager improve their writing ability.

Writing is far more important than many seem to think, as important documents like cover letters and resumes – along with communication media such as email – depend heavily on one’s ability to express themselves in writing.

Many universities will offer first-year composition classes, but whether your teenager plans to attend or not, getting good at writing takes a lot of practice – and that should start early on.

Critical thinking

Employers and universities want critical thinkers among their ranks – but what does this mean, and how can you teach your teenager?

The term seems nebulous, but critical thinking is about putting information to use, rather than just accepting surface level information as-is or memorising facts.

This is another skill that takes constant practice, but opportunities are everywhere.

Ask your teenager how they felt about a movie (and why they felt that way). Do the same for books, or music, or any other media.

Have them read the news and formulate opinions on current events and issues.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to challenge each other.


When it comes to preparing your teenager for the real world, the sheer volume of things you’ll want to prepare them for can seem mind-boggling.

But if they’re well-practiced at these and other important life skills, they’ll be more than ready to succeed despite all of life’s surprises.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative guest post.  

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