One of the more popular essay topics colleges now require is some version of, "How will you contribute to our campus community?" The best responses to that question come from students who've already become contributors to their high school campus communities. Here's one way to do that, and it's a different way to stand out in college admissions.
Use your talent, skill or energy to benefit a campus group that you aren't even a part of.
Sure, it's good to lend your time and resources to the Red Cross club when you're a member, or the basketball team when you're the point guard, or the orchestra when you're the first chair violin.
But what if you made it your goal to get more people to come out and support the cross country team if you weren't actually a member of the team yourself? Imagine how much the team would appreciate your efforts. Even better, what if you started an organization whose mission was to support the school events that don't traditionally draw big crowds? You'd be supporting members of the campus community. And let's be honest. Everyone who benefitted would love you for doing it.
What if, after running a successful fundraiser for your own soccer team, you volunteered to help the football team, or the school newspaper, or the French club do the same thing, even if you weren't a member? You'd be taking a skill you've learned and using it to make a broader impact on your campus community. You'd be a selfless hero.
What if you love to write and offered to write an email newsletter for the student counsel, or to write the text for the football team's programs they sell, or snappy bios for the section editors of the school newspaper?
What's something you can do that other people or organizations could benefit from? Where could you make a contribution that would be needed and appreciated?
One of the best ways to show a college how you'll contribute to their campus community is to contribute to your own. And one of the best ways to contribute to your own is to use your talents and skills with no expectation of anything in return other than the grateful appreciation of the recipients.