What do colleges look for? The importance of taking initiative
Many parents want to know: what do colleges look for in an applicant? How can my child stand out?
In answer to this question, I’d like to share a piece of advice from entrepreneur, Veronica Belmont. Veronica was asked: “What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the ‘real world?'”
In answer to this question, she stated:
“Don’t wait until you get a job to do the thing you want to be doing. For most careers, showing that you have initiative by working on projects related to your future job is a great way to get a foot in the door. If you want to be a writer or journalist, start keeping a blog that you update regularly! If you want to be a programmer, create and maintain a project on GitHub. Anything that you can point to on your LinkedIn that screams, ‘Hey, I’m passionate about this!’ works.”
While this advice speaks to a college student seeking a job, we can tweak this answer just slightly to speak directly to your kid in high school student going through the college process.
I might rewrite this advice to look something like this for high school students:
“Don’t wait until you get to college to explore the things you want to be doing. For most colleges, showing that you have initiative by working on projects related to your future job or future major is a great way to stand out to admissions officers. If you enjoy writing or want to be a writer or journalist, start keeping a blog that you update regularly! If you enjoy programming or want to be a programmer, create and maintain a project on GitHub. Anything that you can point to in your extracurricular experiences that screams, ‘Hey, I’m passionate about this!’ works.”
In answer to the question “what do colleges look for in an applicant?”, they want to see that your child takes initiative. That he or she can identify the walks of life that light them up, that excite them, and that peak their curiosity. Your child shouldn’t have the mindset of “WHEN I get to college, I’ll start exploring X, Y or Z.” They should start exploring NOW!
Encourage your kid to try out an unpaid internship. Or ask to participate in a research experiment. Or shadow someone for a few hours on a job. Or learn a random skill. Or pursue an usual hobby. Or talk to people in a field of interest. It doesn’t matter if this activity feels small or unimportant…it just has to excite your child.
Because when your child is excited, college admissions officers will feel excited to have your child light up their own college campus one day.
This is how your kid stands out. This is what colleges look for in an applicant.
Has your kid recently tried out a new activity? Share in the comments below!