1. Get a job
No, we don’t necessarily mean a high-profile internship or a fancy sounding job
at your dad’s law firm. We mean a regular job, like washing cars, waiting
tables, or stocking inventory. Finding, getting, and keeping a job takes
initiative, responsibility and hard work, and a kid who earns an honest dollar
flipping burgers is always appealing to colleges.
2. Read a book
In fact, read a lot of books. They don’t even have to be what are traditionally
considered classic works of literature. If you love to read, no matter what you
choose to read, the colleges are probably going to love you—it’s just that
simple. And by the way, if reading isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Think about
how you prefer to use your mind and put it to work.
3. Take a fun class
Sure, you could take trigonometry in summer school so that you can jump to
calculus next year. But you could also learn about jazz, cooking, modern art,
web design, dance, politics or whatever else interests you. Whether you
take physics or photography, colleges will be impressed with your desire to
4. Try something you’ve always wanted to do
If you play drums and have always wanted to start a band, get the group
together. Wish you knew how to beat the snot out of your older brother? Take
karate lessons. Think working at a bookstore would be fun? Fill out an
application and see what happens. Colleges love kids who have initiative and
curiosity, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
Of course, we’re not saying that you shouldn’t work hard. But if you spend
every waking hour calculating how to plan your life to impress colleges, you’re
going to drive yourself crazy (and the colleges will think you’re a little
nutty). Work hard, but make sure you choose activities that you enjoy. Follow
your interests. Show the colleges that you’re a happy, well-adjusted kid who
likes what you do. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how far that perspective
can take you in college admissions.