Key Skills Middle School Students Should Start to Develop

27/12/20215 minute read
Key Skills Middle School Students Should Start to Develop

What skills should younger students be focused on developing?

by Gala Radinovic

Let’s face it – just completing the basic curricula at your school is not going to be enough to get into an elite university. Doing the bare minimum usually gets you the bare minimum, that is just the cold hard truth. By now you’re probably aware that you need to be pursuing extracurriculars, taking challenging coursework, and generally doing your best to become an outstanding student all-around; you want to show these universities the best possible version of you. So what skills will enable you to get there? 

Skills are generally put into two broad categories: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are generally talents and abilities that can be measured, and they tend to be specific to a field. For example, coding or Microsoft Office skills. These skills are usually learnt through schooling or on-the-job training. On the other hand, soft skills are less definite in the sense that they are universal rather than applicable to a specific job or career path. As such, I would argue that there are specific soft skills that all students should and can develop before graduating high school that will enable them to be successful in university, as well as hard skills specific to university studies and their chosen discipline. Please keep in mind that all of these skills will not just help students with their increasing academic load throughout their education, but also be valuable additions to their resume once the time comes.

Soft skills I strongly recommend 11-14 year old students begin to focus on are time management, a solid work ethic, communication, adaptability/flexibility, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity, leadership, open-mindedness, as well as interpersonal skills. All these skills aid in making somebody a great student, as well as a good worker. Many of the sessions in our Crimson Rise program focus on developing these skills and students work one-on-one with their Strategist to develop better time management skills, get advice on how to build a deep passion, demonstrate leadership skills in an extracurricular, etc. Top educators agree that a well-developed curriculum in any subject would teach a student not just the topic but these softer skills as well (i.e. teamwork in a collaborative science experiment, developing an open-mind by exploring an opposing team’s viewpoint in Speech and Debate, etc). 

On the other hand, hard skills I recommend younger students work on, regardless of their desired field of study, include Microsoft Office skills, typing speed, general computer skills, and English language skills – especially if English is not your native language. Note that all international students are required to take the TOELF (test of English as a foreign language) to gain admissions to schools in the US and UK! English language skills also includes writing, as all students have to write an application essay to impress university admissions officers (don’t worry, we have specialists here in Crimson to help with this too). In addition, I would also recommend that younger students learn hard skills that aid you in living on your own in university without your legal guardian present. These skills include knowing how to open a bank account, budget expenses from month to month, maintain your living space, and do your laundry. One of my most vivid memories freshman year remains seeing my two friends from across the hall spending over twenty dollars in quarters on the laundry because they didn’t know how to work the machine! You don’t want to be that person during freshman orientation, that’s for sure! 

Finally, start to reflect upon which hard skills would be beneficial to the area of study you plan to pursue. For example, if you are interested in running a multinational business or becoming a diplomat, being multilingual is a huge advantage. Meanwhile, data analysis, video editing, using industry-specific technology (ie. exploring specific apps your teacher gives you for a subject), coding, copywriting, computer programming, editing, are all hard skills that may be appropriate depending upon your field of study. The trick here is to be reasonable – an aspiring news anchor may not need to excel at coding but having a solid understanding of video editing as well as public speaking would help him/her understand the industry. If you do not know what field you wish to pursue,  try out what sounds interesting and see if you develop any new passions. Our team of Crimson Rise Strategists works closely with students to develop their passions and we strongly suggest giving things a shot and, if they work, to practice and excel at them! 

Overall, it is never too early to start developing your skills, soft and hard alike. Look at where you are, and where you want to be. What skills can you develop further based on your current situation? Could you run for student government and develop your leadership skills? Or maybe you could be more focused during writing assignments in class to improve your typing speed? Take every opportunity life gives you, give your best, and always keep an eye out for new opportunities. If you keep this mindset up, you will have a wonderful set of skills to go along with your high school transcript once you graduate! 

Your friendly neighborhood Rise blogger, 



Learn more about Crimson Rise’s strategic mentorship, academic support, and extracurricular coaching for young students, and request a free consultation on your child’s journey!