Early in high school, it’s important to think ahead to what your extracurricular involvements might be like by senior year. Colleges don’t just want to see that you’ve been consistently involved in extracurricular activities. They also want you to be a leader who has made an impact in your communities.
It might be hard to know where to start for high school freshmen, but don’t worry–leadership comes in many forms. With some hard work and strategy, you’ll likely be able to take on leadership roles within groups that interest you. We’ve outlined some ways to gain leadership experience in high school.
Lead a Club You’re Already Part of
To gain high school leadership by junior or senior year, it’s important to start planning now. You’re most likely to gain a leadership position by senior year if you stick with your current high school clubs.
You don’t have to continue with all your activities, just the ones that you enjoy the most. It can be great to try new things early on in high school so that you can discover which are the most fulfilling for you. The more you enjoy a certain activity, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with it and want a leadership position later on.
Remember, leadership roles are usually given to those students who have proven themselves to be consistently involved over time. The longer you stay with something, the more knowledgeable, skilled, and visible you will become in the group.
These qualities will help you gain the trust of other group members and advisors, who will also see that you’re invested in helping to shape the group and its purpose. This, in turn, will encourage them to elect or appoint you to a leadership position.
Start Your Own Club
If you have a specific interest and there’s currently no corresponding club in school, it’s time to start one! There’s no limit to what your club can be about, whether it’s an academic subject that fascinates you, a sports club, or simply a hobby. Starting a club in high school can involve a lot of logistics. Make sure you know the rules and policies around starting a new organization and seek out mentorship from teachers or administrators with whom you have a good relationship.
Starting your own club can also allow you to experience leadership in a different way than joining a club. You can mention that you’re the “founder” in your activities list. Colleges know that founding your own organization comes with recruitment, planning, and even financial responsibilities. Make sure you list all the impressive numbers on your activities list so they know you’ve made a big impact.
Lead A Community Initiative
Being a part of a school club isn’t the only way to gain leadership experience in high school. You can make a strong impact on your own community and be a force for change, even as a high school freshman or sophomore.
If your neighborhood needs help with cleaning up a lake, for example, you can lead a campaign to organize a team. Or, you can step up and write to your local city council to address a particular infrastructure improvement.
There are other ways to tie in community support to your academic interests. For example, if you want to go into medicine, you can support community efforts to provide flu vaccines or COVID boosters. If you’re a prospective math major, you can start a math tutoring service for younger students at your school or in an underserved area.
Pursue a Creative Project
Another out-of-the-box way to show colleges that you are a leader is through a creative project. If you are interested in film, for example, gather equipment and create your own film. Being a director shows leadership skills because you will be in charge of a big team. If you’re a writer, you could start a literary magazine and take charge as editor-in-chief.
There are also ways to be creative as a STEM student. Future engineers can open a maker space and work on building robots with other aspiring engineers. . Environmental science enthusiasts can organize an Earth Day arts and crafts event that uses recycled materials.
Leadership in high school isn’t just important because of the benefits in the college application process. It will also help you make an impact on the communities you care about and equip you to do even more in college and beyond.