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Level of Skills Needed for the High School Graduate

by Samuel Hamilton, studioD

Though each high school will often have different graduation requirements, nearly all successful high school graduates possess the same basic skills. These skills are not necessarily related to any particular school subject such as history or math, but rather they are skills that help student succeed in an educational environment. They are also skills that help students complete their education and go on to succeed in college or in the workforce.


Solid communication skills enable you to interact with teachers, colleagues, employers and anyone close to you. David T. Conley emphasizes the importance of communication skills for the successful student because they allow students to understand what is expected of them in an individual class. They also allow students to share their ideas, concerns, and questions with people that can assist them, such as their peers, teachers, or parents. In order to graduate high school, you should communicate confidently with different types of people through different media, such as email, telephone and in person.

Self Advocacy

Phyllis Miller describes self advocacy as the ability to stand up and ask for what you need in order to succeed. This can be as simple as raising your hand and asking a clarifying question about an assignment or as complicated as confronting a peer about how he or she is mistreating you. In order to graduate high school, you should be able to advocate for those things you need to succeed in and out of the classroom such as clear directions, occasional tutoring or assistance, and appropriate materials, equipment or space, such as a computer or your own study station.

Problem Solving

Both Conley and Miller identify problem solving as a key skill needed to graduate high school. Problem solving skills can obviously be developed in classes where you are asked to literally solve problems, as you might on a science test or during a history presentation. Conley and Miller also address problem solving skills as they relate to social interactions, like balancing your friendships with your family relationships or figuring out how to navigate the tricky problems related to dating and romantic relationships. In order to graduate high school, you should be able to recognize when you’re confronted with a problem, as well as who or what might be able to help you solve that problem.


Reasoning relates to a student’s ability to see a “bigger picture” beyond the day-to-day happenings of high school. For example, understanding that one night of partying after prom might not be worth the possible repercussions that could follow from that partying. Or understanding that spending a little bit of time working on an essay each night for a week will allow you to complete the essay with less stress than you’d have working on the essay all in one night. In order to graduate high school, you should be able to understand causes and their effects and choose the best course of action.


  • College and Career Ready: Helping All Students Succeed Beyond High School; David T. Conley
  • How to Succeed in High School and Prep for College: Book 1 of How to Succeed in High School, College and Beyond; Phyllis Zimbler Miller

About the Author

Samuel Hamilton has been writing since 2002. His work has appeared in “The Penn,” “The Antithesis,” “New Growth Arts Review" and “Deek” magazine. Hamilton holds a Master of Arts in English education from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of Arts in composition from the University of Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images