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Leadership: something you do and prove

Some of my students who apply to very selective colleges worry about how to “stand out.” We know that this group of colleges has grown much larger, and has many more applicants, today.

Everyone agrees that “leadership” matters, but what does it mean? Leading a school club or team?

A student can be president of a club or team and make little difference. Tens of thousands of students hold offices in school governments and clubs. Only those who build membership and have a visible impact, inside and outside school, may get attention.

No, you do not have to start a business or nonprofit.

Start something that didn’t exist before.

The ideas are endless.

It could be as simple as organizing a group of friends to pick up litter or shovel snow, and doing it regularly. Then try doing it where the need is greater.

  • Start a tutoring company: make yours unique by focusing on one subject; connect with other tutors; create your own materials.

  • Start a podcast: focus on an interest: a country, language or culture; nature (birds, insects, flowers, butterflies); give smart movie reviews; offer self-help/just to talk (connect with students in other areas of the country, or maybe internationally).

  • Like a local business? Ask how you can help!

  • Build an online art gallery; sell the art and donate the proceeds to a popular cause.

  • Do research-it’s purely proactive even if it doesn’t change the world.

Start a blog to follow your project and use social media to spread news of your project outside your immediate area. Create a website that showcases your all efforts and interests.

The earlier you start, the better…it proves your commitment and shows you didn’t do the project just to start something. Starting late? Join an existing organization and do real work for it!

Leadership is marketing: demonstrate what you can do.


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