Get Me To College
Ten tips for becoming a strong community member in high school
|Rebecca Joseph, PhDgetmetocollege@gmail.com
Tip 1. A powerful college experience is about so much more than academics. There are many ways to contribute to a college community, including athletics, clubs, student government, and more. Colleges want to see that you are involved in high school activities; it’s a sign that you will contribute to and lead activities on campus.
Tip 2. Get involved in activities that interest you. You are probably already engaged in some activities: sports, acting, music, service, clubs, leadership, babysitting, working, and more. If you are– great…Keep going and do more. If not, look at what interests you and plan for what you can do in and out of school.
Tip 3. Learn these four terms: consistency, development, leadership, and initiative. Say them to yourself, time and time again. These are what colleges look for. Colleges do understand difficult life challenges. Taking care of younger siblings counts. Working for your family matters. Look at what you do and what more you can do.
Tip 4. Consistency: Stick with activities. Colleges like consistency. If you find an activity you like, stick with it. If you don’t, try out some things, and then stick with a couple. The goal is to do at least two ongoing activities—jobs, church, and volunteer activities count. When junior and senior years arrive, and you’re busier than ever, don’t give up activities. This is the time to shine.
Tip 5. Development. Get more involved as time goes on. Athletes moves from fresh-soph to JV to Varsity. Actors go from supporting to leading roles. Musicians play more difficult pieces and so on. Activity members take on more. Try to develop in at least one activity.
Tip 6. Leadership. By junior and senior years, take on leadership roles. You’re ready. Begin planning activities. Begin assisting leaders. Do as much as you can. Campers become CITs and then counselors. Workers become assistant managers in stores. Religious school volunteers become assistants and then actual teachers. Club members become secretaries, treasurers, vice-presidents, and then co-presidents.
Tip 7. Initiative.You have great ideas. Use them. Start a chapter of a non-profit at your school. Begin a club because you’re concerned with an issue. Volunteer for a local politician. Give speeches and presentations. You have so much you can do. In student government, plan events. Become the features editor of the newspaper. In Special Olympics, bring in 50 new members. In your animal rescue group, organize a fundraiser. Volunteer for politicians or issues. Participate in ethnic or religious groups. Help the environment, economy, or community. Go above and beyond. The sky is the limit with your passions.
Tip 8. Use your summers. Further your academics interests by taking classes at community colleges. Find scholarships at amazing academic programs, such as COSMOS or other summer programs for at-risk students. Take summer school classes to move a year ahead in an academic area or explore a new one. These classes count. Take a SAT or ACT course. Get a job, go to a camp, volunteer, intern, babysit, or do anything that interests you. Doing nothing is not a real option at this point in your life. Colleges just don’t’ understand.
Tip 9. Enjoy what you do. Only choose activities that engage and interest you. But please do at least two to three ongoing activities.
Tip 10. Keep a record of everything you do as you will want to write about your activities in your applications, resumes, and interviews. Keep in touch with everyone you meet, too; employers and club leaders can write recommendations.