One of the pieces of college planning advice I feel most strongly about is one many people just don’t believe—get a job. Plenty of high school kids get part-time jobs, but too many families think the only way a job could possibly impress a college is if it’s a high-profile internship, a start-up later sold for big bucks, a research project with a professor that led to the cure for athlete’s foot, etc.
If you’re able to secure something like that (without your parents doing it for you), more power to you. But I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you there is just something inherently likeable and endearing about a teenager who works a regular job washing dishes, manning the register, refereeing youth soccer games, etc. It’s something we’ve heard from every one of our counselors who worked in admissions, including those who came to us from highly selective colleges.
Unlike so many parts of the college admissions process, regular part-time jobs are still pure. An overzealous parent can’t get a kid a job scooping ice cream. A high-priced tutor can’t be paid to get a student promoted at a fast-food restaurant. A private counselor with a propensity to do too much can’t hijack a student’s job interview like they can a college essay.
If your interest is piqued, here are a few relevant past posts on this topic:
- My argument for jobs for teenagers
- Another past post with three benefits of part-time jobs
- My tips for teenage job-seekers
- And my advice on how to thrive once you’re hired
If you’ve already planned a fulfilling and relaxing summer you’re excited about, no need to turn those plans upside down just to take my advice. But if you’re still searching for summer plans, or if you’ve considered getting a part-time job but are worried you’d be put at a college admissions disadvantage for waiting tables over attending Harvard Summer School, rest easy. And work hard.