Blog: Six Ways College Can Give You a Competitive Edge

book on top of grad cap

It used to be that having a degree helped you stand out from the crowd and make you a front runner to potential employers. However, degrees are becoming an increasingly common sight on applications and resumes.

Studies show that as of 2018, nearly 50% of Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 have either already graduated or will be graduating college.

So, what makes going to college worth the experience? Attending college isn’t just about earning a degree, it’s about receiving an education. It allows you to develop transferable skills for a competitive edge. Below are some of the most desired skills and traits you can take away from college, in addition to your degree.

girl looking at her watch in cafe

Time Management and Multitasking

In today’s professional world knowing how to manage your time, and just how much work you can manage in that time, is vital for success. Many college students can stumble in their first year due to the transition from a regimented high school bell schedule to creating their own schedule. Some find that they have extra time on their hands which causes them to drift and maybe not work quite as hard as they should be. Others even commonly overload themselves and take on too much. Being able to balance classes, labs, meetings with professors or advisers, assignments and projects, extracurricular activities, maybe even a job and, – can be overwhelming. College is the perfect opportunity to work on time management and truly understanding how much you can take on throughout the day, week and/or month. Companies want to see you are able to organize and prioritize your tasks, handle multiple deadlines, and most importantly, if you know when your limitations and how you handle that.

Need help developing time management skills? Check out the Academic Success Coaches, a free service offered to help students develop strategies to successfully navigate college and achieve their educational, personal, and professional goals

students collaborating and writing on notebook

Teamwork and Collaboration

Do you find yourself usually taking point on a group project? Do other students like to collaborate with you because they know they’ll be able to work well with you? More and more employers are implementing a team or familial atmosphere. Students who enthusiastically approach collaboration and team assignments in their college classes are gaining valuable experience that will translate nearly seamlessly to the workforce. Being able to work well in a team is also a great jumping off point to strong leadership skills. Those are both valuable traits to take away from your college experience and apply them later in the workplace.

student holding up phone and technology signs around it

Communication Skills

From communicating effectively in a meeting to ensuring your customer understands the services you provide , thorough communication is what makes a good . The research paper you had to write for Economics class? It’s now your department sales report. That e-mail you sent to your professor requesting further explanation on an assignment? It’s now an e-mail to your supervisor asking for clarification or approval on a project. College is the perfect place to develop and fine tune your professional voice and help you be a clear, concise and confident communicator in the workplace.

Ready to develop your communications skills further? Coastline offers a variety of paths for students including transferable courses, certificates and degrees.

male pointing at technology screen and pressing on the "research" button

Research and Investigative Skills

Throughout college there will be a variety of projects that require thorough research. Students who take the time and apply serious effort into the research process are setting themselves up for a major advantage when they join the workforce. Employers are looking for applicants with a thirst for knowledge and a enthusiasm for investigating. They want to feel confident in their employees in that if you don’t know the answer, it doesn’t stop there and you will find the answer. The more effort you put into that research project or paper, from the initial investigating to the complete analysis and application of that research, the better you’ll look to future employers.

student studying at library and on computer


Not everyone excels in a standard learning setting. Companies are now starting to recognize that grades or the additional time you took to complete a degree, are not indicative of the applicants value to a potential employer. Currently, recruiters are understanding the value of students who overcame difficulties throughout school show determination. Situations like this are now taken into consideration and instead of solely relying on academics, they are providing intelligence tests to applicants These tests are administered to better gauge how they might excel in the workplace (or “real world”) as opposed to the classroom. If you struggled through a few classes during your college career, don’t worry! The experience you had with a tougher class is now experience you can use towards a difficult client or project for the future, and sticking with a challenge until the end will give both you and your employer more confidence.

student holding books on the bottom of a staircase

Overcoming Challenges, or Failure

How many times have you had to bounce back in a class after a bad test score? How about failing project you either just didn’t understand? Or simply hit every wrong turn and bump in the road on the way? Were you able to do it? What did you learn from it? People aren’t perfect and companies now know this. Instead, they want to know just how well (and how quickly) you’re able to pick yourself back up, dust off, and get going again. The road to a degree with all its twists and turns, highs and lows, successes and challenges is a prime place to learn this. In addition, colleges offers a variety of student services to assist students succeed for varying obstacles.

While it’s no question earning a degree or certificate can be rewarding and have an impact on your future success in the job market, it’s important to remember there is so much more to what can make you a desirable applicant. Professional and interpersonal skills that can be applied and honed throughout the college experience can be the edge you need, pushing you above the rest of the competition.

Looking to gain your competitive edge? Want to develop your skill set further? Apply to Coastline College today!

Read On