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"How will you be remembered at your school five years from now?"

A speaker posed this question in a recent webinar. While being remembered five years from now may seem impossible, the examples given were not farfetched. Leadership in high school certainly counts, but standout activities require a commitment to something beyond winning a game, being in the marching band, or serving on the prom committee. When applying to the most highly-selective institutions, what’s needed is a well-developed profile and intellectual curiosity–in action.

What matters? Do something that is not commonly done, make your mark, and do it sincerely. If that doesn’t resonate, think more deeply.

In the wake of the pandemic, when school halls were emptier and the mood was depressing, one of my students spearheaded a plan to paint an uplifting wall mural and enlisted other artists to help. A few years earlier, another student developed materials to tutor students for APUSH, then trained tutors to keep the program running after she graduated. One of my current students is running a financial literacy program for low-income students in his area. Before graduating, he can engage other students to keep it going. Any student can create such a program in any subject. Other recommendations to help underserved communities were creating a traveling library and raising money for library computers.

Involvement in political causes demonstrates critical thinking and the confidence to enact change. Students who are passionate about our environment might lobby for meatless Mondays or create a race fundraiser for an environmental (or any) cause. Several of my students served as high school liaisons on their towns’ Environmental Commissions, implementing initiatives and recruiting volunteers. Campaigning for a candidate, achieving prominence in Model UN, and targeting the issues you care are just a few of many acts that can make you memorable…maybe even for five years.


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