1. Choose practical classes to help you do this. Consider AP Computer Science. A lot of students think that this is exclusively for those computer nerds. This is not true. We live in an age where technology is king, so a rudimentary understanding of programming could be that one thing that makes you a better job candidate in the future. AP Computer Science (A) does not have any prerequisites except for Algebra I, which means that a majority of freshmen or sophomores could take this AP. The course focuses on understanding basic programming jargon (only in Java), logic, algorithms, and organizing data.
2. Self-Study, in typing. I don’t know how many students I know who can’t type faster than 30 wpm. For a generation that is hooked onto high-speed internet and Wi-fi everywhere, it is not cool that you can text faster than you can type on an actual QWERTY keyboard. Invest an hour a day into any free online typing course for 2-3 weeks, and dominate every online conversation you have for the rest of your life.
3. Learn your public transportation map and schedule. When you’re living in a city, you can save a lot of time by memorizing schedules and having a good idea of alternate routes. We often blame public transportation for lateness, but sometimes, that excuse will just not fly. Learn how to get yourself out of that situation and be knowledgeable enough to deal with it when it happens!
4. What is going on out there? Colleges and employers alike are looking for people who like to learn and people who are in touch with the world. Do you know current events and trends? Or do you wait or other people to talk about it before you know the details? Take on the world pro-actively, and know what is going on. Read the news and know the story behind major headlines.
5. Learn to Email. There is no skill more important than communicating clearly with other people. If you haven’t gotten into the habit of checking your email regularly, make sure you start it. Email should also be synced to your smartphone, if you are lucky enough to have one. Learn to be polite in your emails by employing letter formats. Know your audience, and respond appropriately—Capitalize your i’s and don’t write run-on sentences. Emails are often not any more informal than phone calls or in-person conversations. It is a recorded form of communication, so you can be held accountable, so brush up on your emailing skills.