What Students Want (Part 1): Enhancing Their Skills for School, Jobs, and Life

First, as someone who has conducted numerous customer discovery sessions and used the results of research that others have paid for, it was time to share the data we sponsored to collect. Why is this important from a leadership perspective?

There are two sides to that question. First, it’s important from the perspective of giving back and paying it forward. Second, and more importantly, doing so speaks to our mission which is focused on enhancing the skill sets of students – our next generation of leaders – so that they can be successful at school, at their jobs, in their leadership, and in life. The more experts that become aware of these needs, the better off that society’s students will be.

This is Part 1 which highlights the basic needs and opinions of US-based students (n=167 aged 18-23) collected pre-COVID in January 2020. We’re curious to test how COVID has affected their perceptions and plan to report on some of these pending findings. STEERus posed the questions that we did to inform our coaching content, specifically the scenarios for our Coaching Capsules so that we can help students successfully navigate school, work, and life. We’re bringing executive-level coaching to students, meeting them where they are, and coaching them in the style to which they respond best.

Key Findings: What US-Based Students Want in Terms of Skills

The first key finding for this article is the overall skills that students listed as most important for them to acquire based on a blank field they had to populate. Word art shows the prevalence and grouping of each response. 

Overall, they are seeking life skills and practical skills to help them when they venture out on their own and enter plus succeed in the workplace.

Communication Skills Reign Supreme: A Closer Look at Top Soft Skills

Secondly, when given a list of the Top 10 soft skills as identified by Udemy, students ranked the Top 3 as follows.

The selection of communication as the #1 soft skill as ranked by more than one-third of our respondents is hardly surprising. In this era of texting with digital natives communicating almost exclusively by SMS messaging, disadvantages and issues arising from a texting-first approach to engaging with others were flagged as potentially problematic in a 2013 study on the subject.

Where it gets interesting is that texting and virtual connections have opened the world to those online – yet it has also ushered in unprecedented levels of isolation, loneliness, and unhappiness. In a 2017 study involving nearly 50,000 students, about two-thirds reported feeling “very lonely” on campus. Anti-anxiety prescriptions rose 34% in May 2020 hitting an all-time high. People have difficulty communicating how they feel, making new friends, and managing the impact of social media on their self-confidence. 

Will Students Pay for Coaching? The Answer Might Surprise You

Next, here’s the exam question: will students, infamously the cohort with the least amount of disposable income, pay for coaching? Indeed, they will. Although 40% feel confident that they can get what they need by randomly happening upon non-curated content on YouTube, the majority of students surveyed said that they would find a way to pay for the coaching that they need, for their professional development. 

What’s the net-net? It says that students WANT coaching, they are interested in learning from experts and they are willing to pay for it. 

So, coaches, do you want to join our movement to help students navigate school, work and life by coaching them on the soft skills – and power skills – that they need to find success?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

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