Life Skills

Life Skills

Life Skills (n):

Capabilities that outlast and extend beyond technical skills, but allow one to communicate, build relationships, continuously grow and thrive in competitive environments. Adaptation amidst rapid change. Understanding that to work harder, one must work smarter. Accepting failure as the price for learning and developing a growth mindset. Navigating complex situations without being intimidated by life’s obstacles. What employers want in new hires.


Employers consistently report that new hires don’t work out for reasons such as coachability and adaptability rather than technical competence. The longitudinal study featured here is one example of these reports. HPU faculty listen to the demands of the marketplace and prepare students to excel in the areas that matter most.




Emotional Intelligence






Technical Competence

3-year study, 5,000+ Interviews.

Mark Murphy (2015). Leadership IQ Study: Why new hires fail.

National Headlines Report Life Skills Deficit

Reports published by media outlets across the nation document the skills gap with which new hires are struggling, as highlighted in a sampling of headlines on these pages. Employers are looking for graduates who are prepared to be coachable, communicate with others different from themselves, build relationships, be adaptable and navigate complex problems. HPU answers the call.


"The top priority for developing talent is to train for soft skills, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report which surveyed more than 4,000 professionals."

Forget learning to code, bosses value collaboration and communication
By Lydia Dishman

Fast Company Logo


"…Companies seek out managers and leaders who have high levels of empathy and emotional control and are adept at building trust, motivated and able to inspire employee loyalty."

How to increase emotional intelligence on your team
By Michele Markey

Washington Post

"Entry-level skills change every few years; it’s the habits of learning to learn and navigating the ambiguity of a career that will prove most valuable to undergraduates in the long run."

College students say they want a degree for a job. Are they getting what they want?
By Jeffrey Selingo



“Every organization wants to maximize revenue generation and constantly develop new ways to impact their specific market. They can’t do it without employees and leaders that are coachable: open to learning, feedback, reflection and accountability.”


Coaches Who Care

Employers want new hires who are coachable, and a lack of coachability has been noted as the number one reason new hires fail. If you want to be coachable, you have to practice being coached.

At HPU, coaching for students begins before they arrive to campus. Each freshman is paired with their own Success Coach, a professional staff member who offers guidance, wise counsel and encouragement, as soon as students enroll at HPU.

Further coaching is seen in the mentorship students receive from faculty and staff members. HPU students benefit from an ecosystem of mentorship and support.

From career advisors, to faculty advisors, peer mentors and even club sports, which have their own professional coaches, there is no shortage of opportunities for constructive feedback.

No one in life gets far without the help of others. HPU understands this. That’s why the university has forged a culture where students are surrounded by coaches who care.

Anatomy of a Success Coach

Your personal Success Coach is your guide through your transitional journey into college life. They will help you identify the best major for you, construct a path to achieve your goals and lend academic support when needed. Here’s a glimpse at the other important roles your Success Coach will play throughout your freshman year at HPU.

Life Coach: When incoming freshmen arrive on campus, they experience a variety of emotions. Because it’s often their first time away from home, students feel the need to quickly find their place at HPU. Success Coaches answer that call. Your Success Coach will encourage you to find your own niche on campus, as well as ways that you can apply and pursue your passions.

University Liaison: Your Success Coach will help you make connections with faculty and staff on campus. They can refer you to Career Services, Student Life, Counseling Services, Financial Aid and other offices on campus to ensure that you receive the support and encouragement you need.

Activities Coordinator: Your Success Coach will assist in the implementation of programs and services designed to promote academic, personal and social/emotional success. They will encourage you to get involved in clubs, intramural sports or other campus activities as a means of staying engaged beginning your first year.

No Major?

HPU helps students discover an academic pursuit that aligns with their passions.

Did you know?

Nationally, an estimated 50 percent of students enter college undecided on their major. In addition, an estimated 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduating.


Straight from the Students:

As a result of HPU’s coaching, students feel supported and capable of achieving their goals. Through guidance provided by Success Coaches, Career Advisors and faculty, they acquire the ability to apply constructive feedback to their own development. Here’s a glimpse at what students are saying about the mentorship they receive on campus:


Cassandra Diaz, '19
NBA Intern

John Gavin Rhodes

John Gavin Rhodes, '19
Intern for Chick-fil-A

Katherine Dunleavy

Katherine Dunleavy, '18
Covet Public Relations

Nick Muniz

Nick Muniz, '18
Law School Student, USC

Engaging Employers

HPU’s Office of Career and Professional Development provides students with a variety of chances to receive feedback from outside employers and apply that to their growth. Here’s a glance at just a few of the opportunities students have that build their coachability:

Informational Interviewing

It’s not a job interview but instead an exchange between a professional and an HPU student, where the student asks questions about the professional’s career path and seeks advice about the most effective strategies for entering the field. Students are able to relate the professional’s experience to today’s job market and use the professional’s feedback for their own benefit.

Career and Internship Expo

At the start of the fall semester, students are invited to connect with national and international employers during the annual Career and Internship Expo. With resumes in hand, students network with hiring managers and industry professionals looking to fill full-time and internship positions. Many students leave the event with interviews secured for the coming days.

Focus Fairs

These tailored events are held for students in specific majors seeking employment and internships. For example, major broadcasters and public relations firms come to campus to recruit communication students, and the “Meet the Firms” event attracts major accounting firms to campus. Students meet individually with professionals and use the opportunity to network and receive coaching from potential future employers.

A Campus That Coaches

HPU provides not only faculty and staff who are trained to coach students, but carries coaching into all facets of campus living. Below, explore likely scenarios one will experience in their professional life and discover how HPU answers the call.

Before you can sell anything, you have to sell yourself. That’s where HPU’s Sales Club comes in. Led by Professor Larry Quinn, you’ll learn how to seize networking opportunities while testing yourself in real-world settings like the airplane fuselage in Cottrell Hall. You’ll graduate prepared to take advantage of chance encounters by articulating your talents at a moment’s notice. On a plane, in a line, at a table or in a car — you’ll never miss an opportunity to network.

Not after years of being part of HPU’s environment. Top companies provide dynamic environments for their employees because it creates excellence. HPU has done the same for its students. Cottrell Hall, for example, is modeled after Silicon Valley. The Wilson School of Commerce features a grand lobby and live stock ticker, similar to a real financial firm.

You will be with the help of HPU’s Belk Center for Entrepreneurship. The center provides individualized assistance, Shark Tank-style business plan competitions, and access to innovators to help you advance your venture. It also includes impressive board room settings where you can practice and perfect your pitch.


Caroline TuckerMikaela CampbellNick DavisAlex PalmerJames JadotteLexi BecerMarco SebastianMary Funke


“Emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) is one of the strongest indicators of success in business. Why? EQ is not only the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, but it’s also the ability to recognize the emotions of others… And according to Talent Smart, 90% of high performers in the work place possess high EQ, while 80% of low performers have low EQ. Simply put, your emotional intelligence matters.”

- Forbes


It begins in the President’s Seminar on Life Skills, a required course for all freshmen. The course is taught by HPU President Nido Qubein, a serial entrepreneur, business leadership consultant and author. In their first semester, students learn about relational capital, the art and science of persuasion, communication skills and more of the life skills that help ensure students grow their emotional intelligence and chart a path for success.

Straight from the Students:

The President’s Seminar on Life Skills is often cited by students as a catalyst for their personal and professional transformation. Here’s a glimpse at how the seminar has impacted students:

Abigail Johe

Abigail Johe, '14
Hilton Worldwide

Dan Kissel

Dan Kissel, '13
BNY Mellon

Elizabeth Reichart

Elizabeth Reichart, '17
World Resources Institute

Ryan Geary

Ryan Geary, '14

Gaining Skills by Giving Back

Understanding the value of service and giving back is an essential part of building emotional intelligence. The ability to connect with others both similar and different from yourself makes one a good team player, or better yet, team leader. One of the primary ways HPU students establish their emotional intelligence is through giving back on a local and national scale.



“Your outlook upon life, estimate of yourself and estimate of your value are largely colored by your environment. Your whole career will be modified, shaped and molded by your surroundings and the character of the people with whom you come into contact every day.”

- Orison Swett Marden, founder of Success Magazine

Wilson School of Commerce

The Wilson School of Commerce, which contains elements found in Fortune 500 companies, is one example of the intentional design throughout HPU’s campus.

Environment Matters

Think environment doesn’t make a difference? Ask any professional sports coach if they prefer to play at home or away. Leading organizations understand your surroundings shape your behavior.

At HPU, an inspiring environment is part of a strategic effort to surround students with energy, enthusiasm and the lift they need to walk and act with purpose.

It’s not about beauty; it’s about intentional living.

HPU knows that students rise to the level of their surroundings, so it’s important that their campus environment sets a standard.

That’s why HPU is filled with sculptures of history’s notable leaders and Silicon Valley-style spaces that foster collaboration. It’s why the Wilson School of Commerce lobby looks like a Fortune 500 company. When HPU students graduate, they know how to thrive in these settings.

"Google is similar to HPU
because the company provides an environment that shows its employees the utmost respect. But at the same time, everyone here is motivated to work hard and determined to do big things. Everyone here has incredible drive and determination.

— Tyler Yusko, ‘13 and ‘14

Engineering Leadership Recruiter at Google"

Roy Disney

Inspirational quotes line the sidewalks of the Kester International Promenade.

Straight from the Students:

How HPU motivated these successful graduates to be the best version of themselves.

Kyle Prates

Kyle Prates, '15

Maddie Travell

Maddie Travell, '18

Seth Spencer

Seth Spencer, '15

A Campus that Fosters Excellence

People rise to the level of environment in which they live. Whether students are in class, a residence hall or one of the library learning common spaces throughout campus, students are consistently surrounded by excellence.

HPU’s entire campus is a holistic learning environment that complements classroom learning and prepares students to thrive. Here’s a glimpse:

The Wilson School of Commerce lobby resembles the lobby of a Fortune 500 company. When students land their job interview, they’ll feel at home in that environment. The Tilley Trading Room features a live stock ticker and trading software. Executive boardrooms allow students to present themselves in a corporate setting. The Human Biomechanics and Physiology Lab is one of the most unique labs in the country. And TV studios equipped with state-of-the-art technology prepare graduates for competitive newsrooms.

HPU buzzes with the news of industry leaders visiting campus throughout the year. When students meet and learn from these accomplished leaders, something beautiful happens: they discover the art of the possible. The simple lesson learned: “I can do it.”

Students have learned from change agents such as Netflix Co-Founder Marc Randolph, HPU’s Entrepreneur in Residence; Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak, HPU’s Innovator in Residence; Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State; Josh Groban, internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter and actor; Wolf Blitzer, CNN’s lead political anchor and anchor of “The Situation Room;” Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and national security advisor; NASA Astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin; and many others.

Flags from more than 52 nations fly along the Gene and Jane Kester International Promenade to honor each international student’s home country. Along its brick pathways, quotations selected by faculty provide ideas for reflection. Sculptures of significant historical figures inspire students to pursue their goals. The Mariana H. Qubein Arboretum and Botanical Gardens bring holistic learning to life throughout campus.

The HPU campus thrives on connection. There’s the Activities Fair, during which students get connected with clubs and causes that interest them. There are Greek organizations, which present leadership and service opportunities.

There are guest lectures, concerts, theatre performances, art exhibits and more to expose the HPU family and the community to the arts. There are 16 Division 1 athletic events to attend, dozens of intramural teams and 30 club sports teams on which to participate.

These opportunities exist to teach students to thrive in collaborative environments, to build relationships and connect the dots wherever they go.



“When people are in a fixed mindset, they believe their basic talents, abilities and intelligence are fixed traits—they have a certain amount, and that’s it. But, in a growth mindset, people understand that talent and abilities can be developed through hard work, learning new strategies, and help from others. This is an empowering belief.”

- Carol Dweck, Stanford Professor

Ascension 336

John Mims, assistant professor of communication, created a collaborative space for students to utilize their majors in a practical setting. A public relations agency, Ascension 336 is completely student run and partners with local organizations like Appalachian Hardwood, Heal Our Heroes, Reading Connections, West End Ministries and more.

Dime Design

Allan Beaver, HPU’s Graphic Designer in Residence, brought students together to work with real-world clients in a student-run graphic design agency. Dime Design agency and Ascension 336 work together often to meet client objectives. These groups collaborate on projects for clients such as United Apparel, Women in Motion, Humane Society of the Piedmont and more.

Study Abroad

HPU offers 67 innovative study abroad programs, ranging from full semester programs where students study at other universities around the world, to short-term “Maymester” programs where students spend one month in another country with their peers and a faculty guide.

Straight from the Students:

How developing a growth mindset benefits their future careers

Christopher Schorn

Christopher Schorn, '20

Rebecca Ulrich

Rebecca Ulrich, '18
Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate

Sophia Brown

Sophia Brown, '20
Oscar de la Renta

Technical Competence


“Almost every current business is being partially driven by some form of technology. As modern businesses become increasingly reliant on up-to-the-minute technology to enhance their competitive edge, CEOs must be able to — at the very least — have a working knowledge of the technology on which their companies so heavily rely.”

- The New York Times

Academic Excellence and Innovation

HPU’s goal of preparing students for world as it is going to be, not as it is, means staying ahead of the technological curve with up-to-date, state-of-the-art facilities.

The Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy contains state-of-the-art laboratory space to train the next generation of health care providers.

HPU’S ANSWER to Coachability:

Every freshman at HPU is provided a Success Coach, a professional staff member who offers guidance, wise counsel and encouragement. If you want to be coachable, you need practice!

Mentorship is the responsibility of every faculty and staff member at HPU. And students benefit from an ecosystem of mentorship and support – ALL FOUR YEARS.

Students benefit from career advisors, faculty advisors, peer mentors and more. Even HPU’s club sports teams have professional coaches. No one in life gets far without the help of others. HPU understands this and has forged a culture where students are surrounded by “coaches” who care.

HPU’S APPROACH to Emotional Intelligence:

The President’s Seminar on Life Skills is a required course for all freshmen taught by Nido R. Qubein, HPU president, serial entrepreneur, business leadership consultant and author.

In their first semester, students learn about relational capital, the art and science of persuasion, communication skills, and many more life skills that will help ensure students chart a path for success.

In fact, HPU graduates often site their Life Skills Seminar as a catalyst for their personal and professional transformation.

Motivation HPU’S RESPONSE to Motivation:

Think environment doesn’t make a difference? Ask any professional sports coach if they prefer to play at home or away.

Leading organizations understand your surroundings shape your behavior.

At HPU, an inspiring environment is part of a strategic effort to surround students with energy, enthusiasm, and the lift they need to walk and act with purpose.

Temperament HPU’S POSITION on Temperament:

Growth mindset is our answer. It represents faculty’s strategic approach to instilling students with the temperament to overcome life obstacles and view challenges as opportunities. Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford professor and expert on growth mindset, has even visited campus to share her research and its impact with faculty.

Technical Competence HPU’S STRATEGY on Technical Competence:

HPU’s academic curriculum is both innovative and relevant in part because our faculty mentors include a mix of scholars and real-world practitioners. Just as the marketplace is in daily flux, majors in all disciplines are in a continuum of evolution. HPU’s newest programs in engineering, actuarial science and physical therapy are merely a few examples of HPU’s commitment to ensuring graduates are prepared for the world as it is going to be.

Straight from the Students:


"The Career and Professional Development team has been wholly supportive of my goals and dreams...Through their guidance and diligent work, I know I’ll have the career in sport management that I’ve always dreamed about."

— Cassandra Diaz, ‘19
NBA Intern

Straight from the Students:

"The Freshman Success Program allowed me an opportunity to experience real-life tasks that would prepare me for a corporate environment, including project management and a combination of hard skills and soft skills, which HPU appropriately calls Life Skills."

— John Gavin Rhodes, Class of 2019 Intern for Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters

Straight from the Students:


"As a freshman, I had an idea of what I wanted to do after I graduated, which was working in PR in New York City. I just wasn’t sure how to get there. I visited Doug Hall in Career and Professional Development many times, and together, we brainstormed and created a plan to reach my end goal. From planning out my classes, to holding informational interviews and learning about the industry, Doug guided me from day one to get where I am today. The Office of Career and Professional Development really did set me up for success in a way that made chasing my goal less intimidating."

— Katherine Dunleavy, Class of 2018
Account Coordinator for Covet Public Relations in New York City/p>

Straight from the Students:

"HPU helped me gain the life skills and the tools to help me get into law school. Having Career and Professional Development, my Success Coach and access to professors outside of the classroom allowed me to be successful during my four years at HPU. Knowing I had so many individuals to turn to for advice allowed me to turn my goals and dreams into reality. Career and Professional Development was especially helpful during my senior year when I was applying to law school. Being able to have my resume, LinkedIn profile and personal statement checked and fine-tuned consistently allowed me to be the best version of myself."

— Nick Muniz, Class of 2018
First Year Law School Student, USC/p>

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Straight from the Students:


"One of the most impactful events of my past four years here at High Point University was the President’s Seminar on Life Skills. One of the most meaningful lessons from Dr. Qubein was “who you spend time with is who you become.” This has inspired me to surround myself with people who are also motivated, high-achieving and have similar values as myself."

— Abigail Johe, Class of 2014
Financial Analyst at Hilton Worldwide in Washington, D.C.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Straight from the Students:


"Dr. Qubein’s lessons and stories about how to make success a reality were invaluable to me. Guest speakers he brought in also offered advice from individuals around the world. This was a course I always looked forward to attending and never failed to leave motivated and empowered."

— Dan Kissel, Class of 2013
Vice President at BNY Mellon, a global investment firm in New York City

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Straight from the Students:


"The president wants us to find meaning in our own lives and the lives of others. I left his seminar each week feeling like I could conquer the world with the lessons I learned and the tools President Qubein gave me to share those lessons."

— Elizabeth Reichart, Class of 2017
Fulbright Scholar and Research Assistant at World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE Straight from the Students:


"The President’s Seminar with Dr. Nido Qubein has prepared me with more knowledge about my future career and professional relationships than I could ever hope for. It enforced the ideals set forth by both Dr. Qubein and this inspiring university."

— Ryan Geary, Class of 2014
District Manager for Lovepop, a 3D greeting card company in Florida

Motivation Straight from the Students:


You only get four years, so make the best of every opportunity that is thrown your way. At HPU, you will build relationships, make connections and be exposed to countless experiences that will help you enormously as you enter the real world.

— Kyle Prates, Class of 2015
East Coast Sales Manager Interstuhl
Boston, Massachusetts

Motivation Straight from the Students:


The environment at HPU is dedicated to preparing students for a career. I gained life skills that have contributed to my new career, and my professors inspired me to believe in myself and see what I am capable of achieving.

— Maddie Travell, Class of 2018
Visual Merchandiser
Pentagon City, Virginia

Motivation Straight from the Students:


Every day at HPU, I had the opportunity to walk across a beautiful campus; go in and out of buildings that looked like they belonged in magazines; interact with professors that prepared me for a professional career; and learn from HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein that anything worth doing is worth doing with excellence.

— Seth Spencer, Class of 2015
Risk Assurance Associate
Charlotte, North Carolina

Temperament Straight from the Students:


At HPU, I learned that having a growth mindset is important. With my first internship being at Tesla, I was really nervous coming into such a large company. However, believing that I could grow into my role as I spent time at Tesla calmed my nerves.

— Christopher Schorn, Class of 2020
Intern at Tesla

Temperament Straight from the Students:


I’d say something like, ‘I’m not good at this!’ and my professor would stop me and say, ‘Wait. Have a growth mindset. You’re a good student.’ Hearing that instilled confidence in me.

— Rebecca Ulrich, Class of 2018
Chemistry Ph.D. Candidate at
the University of Illinois

Temperament Straight from the Students:


By applying the growth mindset outlook that HPU encourages, I was able to speak during internship interviews on how a growth mindset gives me a unique perspective on daily tasks and projects. I know that even the smallest tasks contribute to the larger picture.

— Sophia Brown, Class of 2020
Intern at Oscar de la Renta in
New York City