What are the two ideal characteristics every college is looking for in a college applicant? Evidence of leadership and a passion for something. Perhaps less than 1% of applicants show leadership experience, which means colleges will default to the passion template.
And they don’t care what your student is passionate about, just as long as the student is passionate about something. In other words, colleges will just assume your student has no leadership skills.
In this article I’m going to illustrate how your student can be part of that 1% and still be considered by classmates and teachers as disengaged from school activities and possibly be considered a dead-head by many. (Gee. I think this describes me when I was in high school.)
What I’m writing about is so easy that mentioning it to a student will either challenge him or her, or give ‘em an excuse to do nothing and still appear as a leader. How can this be? you ask. Have I been smokin’ some Colorado green?
Write a blog. And what’s a blog? It’s a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
Okay. Maybe your student isn’t a writer, and I’ll address that issue in a moment. If s/he likes to write, have the student write a monthly or weekly essay on her passion (which would be ideal). Or on any subject. It doesn’t matter.
What does writing a blog signal to the colleges? Remember, you are trying to get your student admitted to a college, which means you have to play this blog thing to the hilt. You’re not interested in showing how you can solve the world’s problems, but you can observe the world around you by commenting on it in any manner you wish.
One of my coaching students likes to go to the movies. He makes his blog a movie review. One of my former students used her blog to write about things around her. Just two examples of what students can do in the privacy of their own homes, undistracted by commitments to after-school activities they hate, or to which they have no commitment, and in which they are leading no one.
But blogs do something unusual. They force the student to think. Colleges like thinkers. Actually they LOVE thinkers. In fact, thinkers are given priority in the admissions office. Why?
Ever wonder why colleges require a college application essay? Partly to see how well students can think for themselves. But here’s the subliminal signal that is sent to admission people, something they dream about in an applicant: LEADERSHIP!
How? I will simply say that blog writers are thought-leaders – they influence their readers to respond to their thoughts. Plus, blog writers have initiative to do something on their own without any encouragement from others.
Bloggers think independently (Ah! Colleges LOVE independent thinkers!). They lead not in front of their classmates with a baseball bat or a soccer ball, but with a keyboard and some fresh ideas. Is that way cool or what?
Okay. How ’bout the student who doesn’t like to write? Here’s what your student can do to demonstrate leadership at his or her high school and NEVER write a single word of a blog: start a bloggers group. That automatically makes your student the president of the group.
Note To Student: Spread the word through your teachers that you’re looking for nine students to write only one article for the entire school year. Assign each student to a specific month when they must submit their article (you can have more students and articles if you want). Give them their assignment, which is to write about anything their heart desires. Just once in the school year. Collect the essay from each student by email and put it in the monthly blog. Done. Hardly any work. Maybe 5 minutes a month on a keyboard.
What has this non-writer signaled to the colleges with a resume entry of being president of a writer’s club of which s/he was the actual founder?
1. You have initiative (leadership!);
2. You know how to designate (leadership!); and
3. You’re the president of the club (leadership!).
Get it? Very little work and no writing. Incredible. Did this student do anything dishonest? No. Underhanded? No. To use a military metaphor, does a general go into actual combat? Does he fire a single bullet? No, but does he get the credit for giving the orders that get the job done? Absolutely.
So my approach is honest, deliberate, and focused on one result: standing out in the admissions office. And every college’s dream of discovering a leader is fulfilled.
So if you love to write AND you start a bloggers club, you are massively golden in the eyes of every admissions office in the country. And you’re doing it because you enjoy it. If you never write a word and you did what I mentioned above, you will have an advantage in the admissions office unlike all the other students who participate in the same usual activities where they are neither presidents nor captains.
For extracurricular activities, concentrate on quality, not quantity, on the unique instead of the standard. The uniqueness of a blogger or being the founder of a writer’s club will give your student a profile in every admissions office that colleges dream about.
Good luck and let me know how your student makes out.
Copyright 2014 Planning For College