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Leadership in high school will boost college admissions effort

Dear Ivy League Guru,

Our daughter, who starts ninth grade this fall, was an honor student in the seventh and eighth grades. We are seeking guidance about leadership activities that she might consider participating in as she enters her high school years. Our goal is to help her prepare for the eventual college admissions process by supporting her current interests and strengths while exposing her to projects and activities that will enhance her knowledge of career opportunities and areas of study. Concerned Parent

Dear Parent, I want to congratulate you on being so forward thinking on behalf of your daughter. Early planning will reap benefits for her in the long run because her high school years will fly by and her course and activity selections will be critical to her college acceptance chances. I have several thoughts. I suggest that your daughter have activity and study areas of interest already in mind. Given the fact that this is her first year of high school she will not be familiar with how clubs are organized or what is available at her school, I would encourage her to "shop" a few of the clubs that catch her attention. This process should give her an idea of what is available to her and she can then build a participation strategy around that knowledge with confidence. It is always best to pursue extracurricular activities that may have some connection with her career aspirations. Down the road, should she wish to consider starting an organization in a special interest area she has a number of routes that she can take. For example, she could gather a small group of people that are all interested in the same general topic such as the environment, diversity, traveling, cultures, etc. I would suggest that she work with the school's faculty and staff to increase awareness of her area of choice. This can be done in a number of ways — creating a niche publication, making captivating videos that are both stimulating and entertaining to a high school audience, creating an impactful grass roots campaign to spark conversation, or inviting a prominent figure from her area of interest to speak at her school and entertain questions from students. As conversation and interest grows, she should be able to recruit new members and enlarge the initiative. We are bound only by our creativity. The important point is that the activity she chooses to pursue is something that she is genuinely interested in knowing more about. Her curiosity and ambition will be two key qualities that will allow her to grow an organization successfully. Success in this area will impress college admission officials.


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