What Counts as “Leadership Experience” on College Apps?

Undoubtedly you’ve seen a section on a college application (or a job application, for that matter) that asks about your leadership experience. Leadership is one of those key elements that college admissions officers look for in their applicants along with qualities like—responsibility, time management, dedication, and hard work. “Leadership” is a buzzword that will catch the eye of anyone looking through your applications.

Why is leadership experience so important?

Well, colleges aim to not only educate their students and hand them a diploma, but guide them to become leaders in their various fields. They seek to better the next generation—and so finding leaders among the students applying is important.

Leadership shows itself in a variety of ways.

You don’t necessarily have to be the student class president in order to claim experience. Take a look below at just a few leadership opportunities to highlight on your college application!

  • Participation on the student council
  • Section leader in marching band
  • Camp counselor over the summer
  • Babysitting job
  • Tutoring / mentoring
  • Volunteer / community work
  • Leading in youth groups or clubs
  • Spearheading a school campaign
  • Working on the yearbook staff or school newspaper
  • A more senior position at work (trainer)
  • Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts / Eagle Scouts member
  • National Honor Society project
  • Headed a class project
  • Team captain of a sport
  • Community activism / involvement

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but rather a springboard. Hopefully this list can get the ball rolling and remind you of any similar experiences you’ve had or things you’ve participated in that would qualify.

Leadership is exemplified in a multitude of ways—not all of them flashy or coming with an official title. If you’ve ever been a leader of an event or held some sort of delegating position, write it down! Go over your school and community involvement over the years; you’re likely to have a few examples that will count that maybe you didn’t consider as leadership experience before! You can also have a conversation with your school counselor about what sort of things would be good to highlight on your college application.

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