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How important is a High School resume?

Dec 31

How important is a High School resume?

Extracurricular activities in high school mean more than just the most pictures in the yearbook.  Colleges are looking for leadership ability.  While the GPA and test scores may be outstanding, the ability of the student to be involved in and perform well outside the classroom or test environment is also an important consideration.  That includes involvement in things like athletics, school clubs, community organizations or groups like ROTC or Civil Air Patrol.  Students should consider becoming active in extracurricular activities at least by their sophomore year.  That allows them to build a foundation to become leaders in those areas by the time they are seniors.

There’s value in being in leadership:

  • Being in a leadership position can be a significant boost to the college application.
  • According to The National Honor Society, leaders are excellent candidates for higher education who are “resourceful, good problem solvers, promoters of school activities, idea-contributors, dependable, and persons who exemplify positive attitudes about life.”

Leadership builds self-esteem:

  • Students (and adults) feel better about their own self image when they are accomplished and hard working.
  • Recognition by teachers, mentors and peers is vital in building self-esteem.

Assuming roles of leadership in school and community can help students feel good about themselves in addition to being an impressive addition to college applications.

It’s for the future:

Professional leadership doesn’t just happen.  By learning what it’s like to be a leader while still in high school and college, students can better prepare for the professional world.   That can lead to greater professional responsibilities as well as higher income potential.

Where can students gain leadership skills and experience?  Consider things like

  • Academic (math, debate, etc.) clubs
  • Music and Arts (band, choir, dance, theater)
  • Athletics
  • Community service
  • After school jobs or internships
  • Tutoring or advising
  • Politics
  • School newspaper, yearbooks, blogs
  • Student government

How do you become a leader?

Much of leadership is learned from experience.  There’s a lot to be said for trying and learning from failure.  But other things to consider:

  • Know your own strengths.  What are you good at?
  • Get some experience.  And be willing to do the “lesser” jobs to get there.  You won’t be the boss overnight.
  • Get along well with others.  Truth is, you should have learned this in kindergarten, but if you didn’t now is the time.  Learn to listen to others as well as share your own opinion or advice.
  • Be an optimist.  Even when times get hard or tasks seem difficult.  One of the true signs of a leader is exhibiting how you react under pressure.
  • Be proactive.

An important thing to remember is that you can be a leader if you aren’t the newspaper editor or the captain of the football team.  What’s more important than a title is your achievement and your commitment to the task.  It will also be helpful if you ask your faculty advisor or sponsor, or perhaps your work supervisor, to write a recommendation on your behalf.

Don’t exaggerate.  Don’t over commit.  There’s no need to join a club or activity just to add another think to your profile.  Get involved where you have an actual interest.  Admissions offices are pretty savvy in their ability to know when you’re just padding your resume.  More meaningful experience and involvement is much more important and impressive than multiple activities.