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What The Classroom Won’t Teach You

Posted on Jul 14, 2018
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blogA few weeks ago, I was helping my cousin who is in the 11th grade with her school project. After we were done discussing the project, she and I chatted about school in general, how her life has transitioned from high school to adulthood. She asked me endless questions about college, career choices, hobbies, entrepreneurship, long-term importance of extracurricular activities, etc. She was very eager to learn and I was more than impressed by her thirst for knowledge. During this conversation, she asked me one question that I liked the most and I had to think before answering this one. She said, “What am I not learning in my classroom?” and as I cleared her doubts, I was sure I wanted to turn this into a blog so that I can share my answer with everyone and help them understand what is it that they are missing out on by JUST following their curriculum.

Knowledge in subjects like Math, Science, Business or Technology is vital for any student, but these lessons alone will not help. You need to complement them with your Soft Skills. Soft skills are character traits and interpersonal skills that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Soft skills characterize one’s relationship with other people. They enable you to work well within groups, solve problems, manage your time and take personal responsibility for your work.

Soft skills are increasingly becoming the hard skills for today’s youth. While your technical skills may get your foot in the door of opportunities, your people skills are what will open most of them. If you are a high school student, these skills will allow you to stay on the top of the class, will give you a confidence boost and enhance your personality, which means better chances of admission to a good college. If you are in college, these skills will enable you to build your profile significantly; they will polish your personality and set you apart from the candidates while applying for your dream job. If you are a working professional, you need these skills to be on top of your work, manage time efficiently, take decisions that will benefit your company, manage your team, maintain a pleasant work culture and stand out in whatever it is that you do.

So what are Soft Skills? Here are the five most important ones for me:

1. Leadership Skills: Leadership skills are the strengths and abilities in an individual that help them in overseeing processes, guiding initiatives and steering their team members towards achievement of goals. These skills will help you develop confidence, enhance your Communication Skills, build accountability, increase recognition, grow networks, boost your Problem Solving skills and will strengthen your resume. To develop them, few things you could do are: take initiatives, accept responsibilities, be passionate, motivate people, be patient and develop critical thinking.

2. Communication Skills: Communication is the act of transferring information from one place to another. This can be in numerous forms including vocally, written (e.g. using printed or digital media), visually (e.g. utilizing charts or graphs) or non-verbally (e.g. using body language or gestures). Effective communication skills are the ability to express yourself clearly and concisely, in a way that things are understood and done. To polish your Communication Skills, become an active listener, learn articulation, tailor your message according to the audience, work on your body language, learn new skills and do not be afraid of making mistakes; they only make you better.

3. Time Management: Time Management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time.Invest some moments in reading this guide and save yourself a lot of time in the  Few tips that will help you productively schedule your day are: Prioritize important work, create time logs on a regular basis, avoid procrastinating, review your progress, focus on one thing at a time, take breaks to avoid stress, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

4. Public Speaking: Remember all those times when you had to stand in front of a bunch of people and speak? You prepare and gather material on what to say and express your thoughts in front of an audience – this is public speaking. To be more definitive, it is an act of presenting your thoughts before an audience in order to inform, influence or entertain them. To improve your Public Speaking skills: prepare your speech well in advance, put your best foot forward, tailor your speech according to the audience, practice, assess your performance, smile while speaking and keep your talk short and sweet.

5. Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills are the life skills we use every day to communicate and interact with other people, both individually and in groups.Whether you are a part of a college club or applying for a job, your interpersonal skills matter. These skills ensure your overall growth and differentiate you from others. Here are a few ways that might help you develop these life skills: become an active listener, appreciate others, smile and use positive body language, inspire team spirit, communicate efficiently, resolve conflicts and learn to understand.

Some other Soft Skills that are absolutely vital for a holistic development include Numeracy Skills, Research Skills, and Negotiation Skills. Good soft skills will help you at each stage and age of your life, not only within the office or classroom walls but also beyond. Hope this blog helps you stand out from the crowd!

Guest Blog by Himanshi Gautam, currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT Delhi. She spent the summer at Reach Education Pvt. Ltd. as a Digital Outreach Associate. Apart from being an avid reader and writer, she loves to express her creativity through theatre, dance and painting.