Studying hard is no longer enough!

In the old days, as a student all you had to do was study very hard and the chances that you would do well and end with good outcomes were pretty high.

Today’s 21st century world requires us to do more than study hard, it requires strategies that go beyond just facing your books head-down and ignoring the world around you.

The traditional roles of school and education systems were centered around development of cognitive skills, and the primary technique for the development of these skills was oral recitation. Students were expected to passively and obediently receive fixed answers from their teachers. Through listening, recitation and memorization they acquired all the knowledge that was needed. And so, to develop these cognitive skills, studying (memorizing) hard was really all that you needed to excel.

Even though educational systems in many countries still educate students using traditional techniques, it is what it is; – Traditional, old-school, obsolete, out-dated…I can go on and on!

In this 21st century world we live in, even though the development of cognitive skills and having high IQs are still important, they are beginning to take the back stage. Non-cognitive or psycho-social skills are becoming more and more important.

According to research conducted by Gutman and Schoon in 2013,

“Numerous instances can be cited of people with high IQs who fail to achieve success in life because they lacked self-discipline and of people with low IQs who succeeded by virtue of persistence, reliability and self-discipline”

Employers of labour are prioritizing non-cognitive skills more than was the case in previous decades. While a basic threshold is usually set for the competencies and cognitive domains, the bar is set higher for requirements of non-cognitive skills. Job candidates who possess more positive attitudes, grit and other important transferable skills not bounded by traditional curricula have higher chances of securing jobs than those with only qualifications.

Below are five key non-cognitive skills which are important and can be developed through the education system, and I believe that young people should ensure that they develop and hone these skills before they graduate from the University;

  • Communication Skills
  • Teamwork and leadership skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Emotional intelligence and self-discipline.

The challenge might be knowing how to hone these skills in a system that doesn’t intentionally prepare you to do so. Having come from Nigeria to study in the UK, I struggled with some of these requirements, and while it was clear to me (only in the end) that the UK education system wanted me to develop these skills, nobody told me expressly.

So, in the end I realized that the constant seminar presentations and working in groups almost every week of second term, was for me to develop one and two above. I wish someone could have just told me! I struggled with the group tasks and presentations at the beginning because I really didn't understand why they were making me do it. If they simply said to me; this was the purpose, I would have been more strategic about it and made the best of it. They must have assumed I knew this.

You won’t believe that number two above (teamwork) was a key question that popped up at my interview for the job at Oxford University, my GPA wasn’t discussed!

My dear young person, this isn’t just for jobs, but it is important for business and succeeding in life in general, there are key psycho-social skills that will help you succeed and maximize your potentials that people don't talk about and education systems like Nigeria haven't started paying attention to.

I will be talking about it. For those who are going to study abroad from Nigeria, I hope to share with you how to make use of the provisions available in the education system to ensure you develop and hone these important skills, even if you are going to study for just one year- it is more than enough!

My dream is that we will change the way education works in Nigeria too, we will find a way, but we need to start from somewhere.

You see, just studying hard is no longer enough!

Do you know anybody that needs this? Why haven't you shared it with them? Please do, they will thank you for it.

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