High School Jobs that Will Impress College Admissions Officers

In high school, you might hear your parents say, “get a job” when you ask for extra money to do things.  However, sometimes that’s easier said than done these days. Did you know the type of job you get could provide advantages when it comes to college? Having high school jobs can be impressive to some college admissions counselors. It might be challenging to balance schoolwork and studies at first, but being able to successfully hold a job in high school shows initiative, leadership, and responsibility. Exactly which ones might score you some extra points? Good question. Lucky for you, we have the answers. Here are some jobs for high school students that we think will impress college admissions counselors.

College student standing in front of a camera.

Retail / Customer Service

Yes, believe it or not. A retail job at a department store may not seem like much in high school. However, if you take the time and dig a little deeper, you’ll find that working in retail can teach transferable skills while putting money in your pocket at the same time. For example, the schedule of a retail employee can sometimes be unpredictable. Therefore, flexibility is a good skill to learn and have. In the same way, balancing your classes, extracurricular activities and whatever else you might have going on in college requires some flexibility as well. We know that life doesn’t always go according to plan, so being able to adapt to different circumstances and situations when that happens is important.

In addition, working in the retail/customer service field can also teach the intangibles. The intangibles are the little things, timeless traits that never go out of style. Things like patience, conflict resolution, teamwork, how to properly deal with the public, etc. So before you pass on that Target application because it may not be exactly what you want, think about the big picture and reconsider. It may be worth a shot.

Food Service / Hospitality

This may be another field that will be a shock to some. The food service industry is very similar to retail and as a result, can also be a whirlwind. However, there are some hidden lessons there also. For example, working in food service oftentimes requires you to multitask. That’s a very valuable skill to have in college. You will have multiple things to manage at one time. That’s the nature of the college lifestyle. Your ability to multitask and manage your time will play a role in what you accomplish.

It also teaches hard work and perseverance, and about having goals. If you have a job, you should definitely have goals while you’re there. They could be monetary or career-related. These are more great qualities that come in handy.  Why wouldn’t a college admissions counselor want a hard-working, goal-oriented student at their school? That’s a sign that they will most likely do well, and in that case, everyone wins.

Anything Interesting or Unique (or Related to Your Major!):

We realize that this statement is a little vague, so let’s break it down. What we mean is, a job that is out of the ordinary that might catch the eye of an admissions counselor on your application. For example, working in a lab as a research assistant or being an ambassador for an organization/cause in your community like the neighborhood garden, local Big Brothers/Big sister chapters, and more. You’ve often heard over and over that when applying to college, admissions officers try to look for the most well-rounded students. By having a job in an area that you like or are passionate about, you are demonstrating that quality. There are opportunities all around if you take the time and look for them.

How a High School Job Benefits You

Let’s also bear in mind that a “good job” is not only about money. When you’re in high school and you want money to do things, it may seem that way. But, high school jobs, in essence, provide more than money to students. You get a chance to meet new people, build new relationships, develop new skills and grow. If someone on your job knows you well and knows how you work, that good word could help you land your next job or maybe even a great recommendation for college. The cash handling and customer service skills that you acquire at your retail/customer service job, could possibly help you later on in your major and college career or on a serving on a student organization.

Having high school jobs also prepares students for the real world, which also might be attractive to some college admissions teams. For example, if you have a job in high school, chances are you understand the importance of things like getting up for work on time, being consistent, and doing things independent of your parents. These are things that some struggle with as they make the transition to college so if you’ve mastered these skills you’re ahead of the game. Discipline is another great quality that having a job teaches. If you’re not disciplined, it could be easy for you to get distracted by other things and not give a 100% effort. In college, discipline is a necessity. It will keep you on course and help guide your decision making. Even then, your choices won’t always be perfect, but most times they should be solid and decent.

Also, let’s say you’ve had your job for at least two years of high school. That shows commitment, another attractive quality. The ability to stick with something and see it through is very impressive, especially for a teenager. It’s another quality you’re going to need because you’ll learn that college is not for the faint of heart. It will indeed test everything inside of you, make you question what you know and everything you’ve been taught up until this point, and test your discipline and willingness to succeed. But, being able to hang in there and see it through is important. If you know how to do that, you’re in great shape.

You don’t take any high school jobs — it’s not a necessity for all students. However, if you choose to, make the most out of it. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn and improve yourself. That will help make you more of a well-rounded person. That type of individual usually stands out on a college application. Lastly, keep in mind that it doesn’t matter what type of job or role you may have. We all have to start somewhere, and just because you start in a small role doesn’t mean you have to end there. Aim high and think big picture. Happy job and college hunting!