Leadership is one of the most misunderstood traits in the college admissions process. That fundamental misunderstanding is why students who are thriving at their part-time jobs, in their after-school art classes, or in their martial arts training will ask if their lack of leadership will hurt their admissions chances. It’s why so many kids start clubs in the fall of their senior year so they can list them on their college applications. And it’s why so many parents feel pressured to send their kids to expensive summer programs that claim to have identified their students as emerging high school leaders and promise to enhance their skills.
If you’d like to better understand how colleges actually view, evaluate, and reward leadership, here are five quick reads that will dispel most of the myths, help you identify if and how your own leadership could be an admissions strength, and potentially relieve you of any unnecessary feelings of leadership shortcomings.
Here’s a great reminder from the University of Virginia that colleges appreciate leadership, but not more or less so than they do plenty of other valuable high school experiences.
A broader sampling of colleges’ views courtesy of Brennan Barnard, who asked a number of college admissions officers to share their thoughts on what it means to lead.
Here’s an example of effective leadership at the high school level.
And another example, this one of leadership without an official title.
And finally, some advice on how to be a leader without a leadership position.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!