There are ten skills you'll need to thrive in the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), according to the World Economic Forum's 2016 report 'The Future of Jobs'.
These are the skills that workers will require to benefit from the wave of "new products, new technologies and new ways of working", brought into fruition by the advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning that could take over the world as soon as 2020.
One of these skills is critical thinking.
It's a term that's been described in more than a dozen ways. Richard Arum, a New York University sociology professor calls it “the ability to cross-examine evidence and [form a] logical argument. To sift through all the noise," while educational psychologist Linda Elder describes it as "Thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, in order to improve your thinking.”
Author Bill Gormley distinguishes it from other cognitive abilities like creative thinking: “It’s a complement to creative thinking, which is much more about novelty and inspiration, vs. analysis and weighing of arguments. Both have to be brought together to do problem-solving."
"Problem-solving typically leverages critical and creative thinking to find a solution to a particular issue. In the end, it’s helpful to imagine an overlapping Venn diagram among different kinds of thinking. The best performance results [come] from harnessing all three of them.”
However you define it, we know bosses of today and of the future are looking for this skillset, and many universities are rushing to offer a myriad of courses on it.
The problem for international students, however, is they may be coming from a disadvantaged background. For example, students from countries with a predominantly rote-teaching education system like China, struggle when they come to university in the US and have to adapt to a foreign way of studying which focuses on analytical writing, communication with peers and professors and of course, critical thinking.
While it may take time to unlearn the rigid methods these international students have fostered since young, it's never too late to cultivate critical thinking capabilities. There are many courses or classes you can sign up to. This, however, will likely be costly and time-consuming.
Thankfully, the Internet allows international students to tap into a wealth of useful - not to mention free - resources.
One of them is the massively popular Ted Talk video by educator Samantha Agoos, which lays down a nifty five-step process that anyone can start applying to everyday life. It won't transform how you learn overnight or make difficult decisions a piece of cake, but it's a good first step towards making more informed life choices, as well as teaching thought processes that will positively impact your university studies: