Skills to Know that We Don’t Necessarily Learn in School

Photo by Devon Pankiw

We’ve all heard the term “girls go to college to get more knowledge”, and while this may be true, there are many skills that we are now expected to know as we enter the “real” world. Penn State offers us more majors, classes, clubs and extracurricular than we could ever wrap our heads around. But, there are still skills that we should take upon ourselves to learn.

As uncertain as our futures may be, there are a few things that we, as Penn States students, can do to make the inevitable a little less menacing.


Coding has become an indispensible skill as an employee and many of us are unaware that coding is what makes websites, apps, and computer software possible. So basically, our entire modern existence is made possible due to a process that we can all learn to do.

Valley got to sit down with Penn State College of Communications senior-lecturer Curt Chandler who emphasizes to his students the importance of learning how to code and use Excel.

The prospect of learning how to code can seem extremely difficult, and there are resources not only at Penn State but online that you can use to become a proficient coder. Codecademy is a free website that allows beginners to learn how to code for free with tutorials and interactive learning!

“You just have to go out and find it. And its not always easy but if you just take it in little chunks and learn a little bit at a time pretty soon you’re good at it,” says Chandler.


Not all majors at Penn State require students to take a course in Excel. Regardless of whether or not you think that this skill applies to your major, knowing how to use Excel can make life more manageable in any work setting. Excel is especially useful in modern day journalism, a field that one would not typically think that computer skills are applicable.

“You have to have some fundamental understanding of how an Excel spreadsheet works,” says Chandler. “Even if you aren’t going to do it yourself you want to know when you can identify content to give to somebody who is a coder and make something that could really make a difference in your story.”

Besides using Excel in a work setting, it can be used to do taxes (we know, frightening), manage finances and organize daily life. Penn State offers courses in Excel and there are books available to self-teaching.

Social Media

We tend to think of social media merely as a way to display our every day lives to the world. But wait, there’s more! Do not underestimate the power of social media because it can be used as a branding technique. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and blogging can all be used to promote a business venture or professional career. Believe it or not, there are do’s and don’t of social media. Use it the right way, and you may end up more successful than you thought possible.

College is only four years, and in that time we are refining our skills, learning and preparing for the ominous future that lies ahead. It is so crucial that we take advantage of the plethora of opportunities that are presented to us at Penn State.

“You have to seek it out,” Chandler says, “The main thing in college is that you want to try everything.”

So before the end of the year, sing up for a new class or join a club because you can gain invaluable skills or spark an interest you never knew you had!


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