High school is a critical time for students to develop leadership skills, an attribute highly valued in college admissions. These skills are not just about holding a title or position; they’re about learning to inspire, influence and guide others. Here’s how students can cultivate their leadership abilities during their high school years.

The journey to becoming a leader often begins with self-awareness. Encouraging students to understand their strengths, weaknesses and values is the first step. This self-knowledge forms the foundation of authentic leadership, enabling students to lead in a way that resonates with their true selves.

Participation in extracurricular activities offers fertile ground for nurturing leadership skills. Whether it’s sports, student council, debate club or volunteer work, these activities provide practical experiences in teamwork, decision-making and public speaking. They also offer opportunities to take on leadership roles, from team captain to club president.

Taking initiative is another key aspect of leadership. High school students can demonstrate initiative by starting new projects or clubs, organizing community events, or spearheading campaigns. These actions show colleges and future employers that the student isn’t just a participant but a proactive creator and leader.

Leadership also involves learning to handle challenges and setbacks. Developing resilience, the ability to adapt and problem-solving skills are all part of the leadership journey. These experiences teach students how to navigate obstacles and make informed decisions, essential qualities of an effective leader.

Mentorship can play a significant role in developing leadership skills. Seeking guidance from teachers, coaches or community leaders can provide students with valuable insights and advice. Mentorship also offers a model of effective leadership for students to emulate.

Lastly, reflection is a powerful tool for growth. Regularly reflecting on their experiences allows students to assess their progress, learn from their mistakes and plan how to improve their skills.

In essence, developing leadership skills in high school is about much more than adding a line to a college application; it’s about cultivating a set of skills and qualities that will serve students well throughout their lives. For parents, supporting students in this journey involves providing opportunities, guidance and encouragement.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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