The Skills High School Students Need

There are three categories of skills we focus on at Opportunity Education: Learning Skills, Work Skills, and Essential Habits. All of these skills are necessary for doing well in school, but more importantly, for thriving in careers, relationships, and life in general.

  1. Learning Skills help students become lifelong learners that think critically and take initiative. 
  2. Work Skills help students to work smartly and efficiently.
  3. Essential Habits are skills and attitudes that help students discover who they are and how they can best contribute to the world and their community. 

You’ll see these skills referenced in many places on our website – other blog posts, teacher resources, lesson plans –  and in the products we build, because they’re core to our mission, method, and everything we create and do at Opportunity Education. 

Today I’m sharing these skills with you. Over the next few months, we’ll dive into each category and skill, and provide you with strategies, examples, lesson plans, templates, and more to help you support students with practicing and developing these critical skills. 


A student draws a diagram with a dry-erase marker on a glass tabletop, while two other students closely view her work.

An icon representing Quest Forward learning skills, a cluster of blue diamond shapes.  Learning Skills

We identified 12 important Learning Skills and organized them into four groups.

These might sound familiar to you if you’re well-versed with national and state standards. They closely align with many of them. Regardless of the specific curriculum you use or subject you teach, these skills are likely already identified as part of the learning objectives and outcomes for the courses you teach.


A Quest Forward Academy Omaha student takes notes while studying the screen of a laptop.

The Quest Forward Work Skills icon, three triangles in shades of green, interlocking with one another.  Work Skills

We identified four Work Skills that focus on how a person works and accomplishes goals effectively. These include:

It doesn’t matter who’s the smartest person in the room. People who have these Work Skills thrive in school and their careers, because they work hard, are organized, and self-regulate. As a result, they’re able to accomplish their goals.


A student smiles as he prepares a presentation at Quest Forward Academy Santa Rosa

The icon representing Quest Forward's Essential Habits, three hexagons meeting each other, in shades of orange.  Essential Habits

We have also identified Essential Habits, which are skills and attitudes that focus on discovering who you are and how you can best contribute to the world and your community. The Essential Habits are:


A Lifelong Process

Learning Skills, Work Skills, and Essential Habits are applicable and relevant in every grade, subject, course, and career, which makes them a great set of skills to use in your classes and at your school, especially if you don’t already have a set of skills defined.

For all of us, these are skills that we’re always learning, always practicing, and always trying to improve. This holds not just for high school, or college, but for all of life. We may never perfect any of our skills, but with regular, reflective practice, all of us can consistently improve.

Get the latest in our newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.