Emotional Intelligence: Key to College Success

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman walking in the campus.

Emotional Intelligence: Key to College Success

Emotional intelligence (EI), or the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, is a vital skill that can greatly benefit college students.

In such a dynamic setting, EI is crucial in helping college students manage their emotions, build healthy connections, and achieve their academic and personal goals. From developing self-awareness to practicing empathy and effective communication, EI skills can provide a foundation for success long after graduation.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the importance of EI for college students and how it can shape their experiences and outcomes during this important time in their lives.

What is emotional intelligence?

What does it mean to be emotionally intelligent? EI is how well a person can recognize, control, and evaluate their own feelings and those of others. Some researchers think these skills come naturally, but some also think they can be taught or improved.

Most people think that to be successful in life, you need to have both a high intelligence quotient (IQ) and a high emotional quotient (EQ).

Four Components of Emotional Intelligence

The idea of EI can be broken down into four main parts to make it easier to understand:

1. Self-Awareness

How well a person understands their own feelings can be used to measure how self-aware they are.

Two students talking while walking in a campus.

One important part of this quality is being aware of how you feel about others. Many people think that people who are aware of themselves are more creative, have more confidence, and can make better decisions.

2. Self-Management

Self-management is a skill that starts with being aware of yourself. Since you are aware of your feelings, you can control and manage them, as well as the actions that come from them.

This is what it means to take good care of yourself. Instead of yelling or hitting out right away when something makes you angry, try taking a step back and taking a deep breath first.

This is a great example of how this rule works in the real world. Communication with other people and making decisions when you’re angry rarely go together well.

3. Social Awareness

Empathy is the most important part of social awareness. Someone with a strong sense of social awareness can understand how other people feel and respond to those feelings correctly. This is different from trying to see things from someone else’s point of view.

When it comes to being socially aware, what matters most is how the other person feels, not how you would act in their situation. People who are good at being socially aware are usually kind-hearted and respected.

4. Relationship Management

Relationship management, another name for social skills, often makes a good manager stand out from a mediocre one. This skill is also sometimes called “people skills.” Some of these skills include the ability to motivate others, solve problems, work well in a team, and have an effect on other people.

Not only are they helpful for building good professional relationships, but they can also help with other parts of a person’s personal life, like how their family works, how they get along with other people, and how they do in school group projects.

How does emotional intelligence impact students?

What kinds of things do students get out of being emotionally intelligent? EI can affect many parts of your life, like how well you do in school and at work.

Once you go to college, it’s clear that good grades will still be important. But this is also when you’ll start to see some of the other benefits of having a high EI.

Young woman looking outside while holding her books.


Some studies have found that going to college and having a high EI can benefit a person’s emotional, social, and even physical health. If you work on your EI while you’re still in school, you’ll be better able to deal with problems when you go to college.

For example, university students with a high EI are more likely to:

  • Be socially engaged and involved
  • Feel less anxious and depressed
  • Be in great physical shape
  • Feel healthy

Like in high school, you will have more chances to become friends with your teachers and classmates.

How can college students improve their emotional intelligence?

What are some ways that college students can improve their EI? There are a number of ways to improve your EI, such as the following:

1. Practice self-awareness

Getting to know yourself better can be done in several ways. One way is by practicing mindfulness, which means paying attention only to the present and not worrying about things that don’t matter.

You could also ask people you can count on, like friends and family, what they think of your empathy, flexibility, willingness to work with others, and ability to adapt. Use criticism to improve your EI and grow as a person.

2. Empathize with others

You can also improve your EI by learning how to understand how other people feel. You can improve by reading books or articles, going to the theater, or even just appreciating different kinds of art. The important thing is to make you feel something, which could be anything from anger to joy and sadness to happiness.

Young woman talking to someone while sitting.

3. Keep a good attitude

Being upbeat not only makes you more fun to be around, but it also helps your brain work better. Spending three to five minutes a day thinking about your goals or something good about yourself and your life can help reduce stress and improve your ability to learn.

Positive affirmations may sound like a new trend in self-help, but they are actually very helpful. Affirmations are a great way to get rid of negative thought patterns and change your outlook on life.

4. Listen to feedback

Getting feedback can be hard, especially when some of it is given as constructive criticism. When someone gives you feedback, don’t get defensive or try to explain why you did it. Instead, use those times to learn and think about what you might do differently the next time you’re in a similar situation.

The best way to find out how well you can listen is to get feedback on how you did. Even if you can’t understand what people are telling you at the time, you should practice listening and writing down what they say so you can think about it more later.

5. Understand your motivations

A person with high emotional intelligence will try to determine why the other person is acting the way they are before taking action. This not only makes the person less likely to make bad decisions on the spot, but it also makes them more aware of themselves.

6. Keep negative emotions in check

People with high EQs are less likely to get angry or frustrated when things go wrong. Instead, they pay attention to how they feel and only act when they think they can feel and talk about it healthily.

When you feel yourself getting angry, it can help you to meditate, pray, or think about something positive. It can also help to actively focus on positive affirmations or thoughts while doing these things. All of these things can help you stay away from bad feelings and thoughts.

7. Network

Networking lets you talk to more people—the more people you talk to, the more chances you’ll have to improve your ability to understand others and make real connections with them.

How to Know if You Have a High Emotional Intelligence?

  • You naturally care about other people and are interested in their problems.
  • You are not easy to insult (you can poke fun at yourself).
  • You can think about constructive criticism without defending yourself or blaming others.
  • You quickly forgive people, and you don’t hold grudges against them.
  • You quickly say you’re sorry when you’ve done something wrong or hurt someone’s feelings.
  • You know how to end the connection and when to do it.
  • You have excellent listening skills.
  • You keep an open mind and don’t judge people quickly.
  • You can interact with toxic people without getting upset.
  • You don’t try to hide the truth, and you don’t try to avoid hard conversations.

How can students apply emotional intelligence?

How can students use EI in their lives? Emotionally intelligent people are good at recognizing and controlling their own emotions. They also have a good understanding of the social world and its relationships.

The most hopeful thing is that practice and experience can improve EI over time. All it takes to learn new things and grow as a person is effort and determination.

College is a great place to start learning how to be emotionally intelligent. A high EI will help you become a more mature and successful student and set you up for healthier relationships in both your personal and professional lives.

Here are five things you should do to improve your EI.

1. Identify your emotions

Feelings are important because they let you know what’s happening inside you. If you choose to ignore the warning, you will have a mental breakdown at some point.

Your body is a complex system, and your feelings are like “flashing lights” that show you how you’re doing right now, whether it’s good or bad. You can’t make your feelings go away by pushing them down or denying them.

To improve your EI, you should first become more aware of your current emotional state. Once you know what an emotion is and what it is called, you will be better able to understand it, control it, and respond to it in the right way. This is true for all of your feelings, including the ones that make you feel bad.

To apply emotional intelligence, make it a habit to pay attention to your feelings and let yourself feel them without judging them. Even though all feelings are real and should be considered, they don’t always show the world as it is.

Remember that your current feelings can and will change, no matter how strong or difficult they are. Even though you can’t change how you feel right now, you can change how you feel over time by thinking about it. You have much power over your thoughts, which is good news.

Also, don’t be afraid to look into the different kinds of consulting services that your college or other institution offers. This is a great way to look at how you feel.

2. Manage your stress

There is always pressure, and this is especially true for college students who have to deal with homework, tests, relationships, jobs, internships, and the fact that they don’t know what their future holds.

When you start to feel the pressure building up, it’s important to use healthy ways to deal with stress so you don’t collapse under its weight. Before acting on strong emotions, it’s important to consider both your choices’ short-term and long-term effects.

Young woman holding her books on a school campus.

Make a list of things you can do that are good for your health and will help you relax instead of using unhealthy or ineffective ways to deal with stress. Here are some ideas to think about:

  • Take a 15-minute break to help your mind.
  • Play a few of the songs you like.
  • Enjoy a good book.
  • Create a to-do list.
  • Learn to be grateful.
  • Do something that will make your body move.
  • Contact your loved ones.
  • Bake or cook with friends.
  • Help other people without getting paid.

3. Cultivate meaningful relationships

Emotional intelligence is about more than just you. It also includes how you interact with others, such as in friendships and close relationships. It is important to have a support system made up of people who know and respect you.

Even if you only make one or two good connections, they can have a big effect on your life. It can be tempting to stay inside yourself when you’re having a hard day or stretch of days. It’s fine to spend some time alone, but when you’re ready to talk to someone, it’s best to reach out to a trusted friend or family member.

Being a good friend yourself is the first step toward making relationships that work out well for others. Think about these tips for being polite in society:

  • Learn about the lives of the people around you.
  • Ask questions.
  • Serve.
  • Manifest your support.
  • Send an audio message or a text message to say “hello.”
  • Organize get-togethers.
  • Share some laughter (or tears).
  • When you do something wrong, admit it and say you’re sorry.

By doing these simple things, you’ll be able to show more empathy, which is the ability to understand and relate to the feelings and experiences of another person. Your ability to understand other people is what keeps you close to them.

4. Develop social awareness

If you want to do well in the world, you need to know how to deal with more than just your closest friends and family regarding social situations and environments.

As you go through college and beyond, you’ll meet people from many different cultures and ethnic groups. Spend some time getting to know your coworkers, roommates, teachers, and employees personally so you can get along with them better.

To apply emotional intelligence, put aside your ideas about people and talk to them with an open mind. Giving someone your full attention and paying close attention to what they say are both great ways to build empathy and mutual respect.

Instead of always trying to win an argument, learn to ask questions when you are in a disagreement or conflict. You should try to understand different ideas and points of view, but you should also remember that you can leave an unhealthy argument if it gets out of hand.

Also, it is important to set and keep healthy physical and emotional boundaries. No rule says everyone has to be available at all times.

In your relationships, it’s important to be clear about what you want and expect. Learn how and when to say “no.” You owe it to yourself to protect your time, privacy, and feelings, and you should do the same for other people.

5. Practice forgiveness

Even though forgiving someone is a simple thing to do, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Getting there is both a choice and a process.

When you have been hurt in some way, whether physically or emotionally, it is only natural to feel angry and sad. When you let your anger grow into bitterness and resentment, that’s when you have a problem. At this point, you are hurting yourself and no one else. You have no one but yourself to blame.

Forgiveness is important because it allows a person’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health to be restored, healed, and brought back to a state of wholeness.

One of the best ways to improve your EI is to put forgiveness first in your mind. You won’t have to worry about mistakes you made in the past, and you’ll be able to focus on the relationships in your life that mean the most to you.

In conclusion, EI plays a crucial role in the overall well-being and success of college students. Developing EI skills such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, motivation, and social skills can improve academic performance, relationships, and mental health.

By enhancing EI, college students can better understand themselves and others, manage their emotions effectively, and navigate complex social situations. Therefore, colleges and universities need to prioritize emotional intelligence education and incorporate it into their curriculum, campus culture, and student support services.

By doing so, they can equip students with the skills and tools necessary to thrive in both their personal and professional lives.

EI is a critical aspect of a student’s overall academic and personal success, making it an essential factor in the college admissions process.

The college admissions committee seeks students with a high level of EI because they are better equipped to handle the demands of college life, such as managing stress, building relationships, and making responsible decisions.

Here at AdmissionSight, our college admissions experts can help you showcase your EI in the college admissions process. We provide personalized college admissions consulting services, including guidance on how to present yourself as a well-rounded applicant with EI skills.

So why wait? Book your initial consultation today!


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