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Articles / Applying to College / Help ... New School in Grade 11 Means Limited Leadership Roles

Jan. 13, 2015

Help ... New School in Grade 11 Means Limited Leadership Roles

Question: I am a junior in high school and switched into my current school just this year. I have no extracurricular experience at my new school, especially because a lot of them began the spring before. Now I'm lacking a lot of leadership roles to put on my app. Will this affect my chances when applying to my reaches, and how can I remedy it?

While there is no sure-fire way to make up the extracurricular ground that you lost due to your school transfer, here are a few suggestions:


  1. Get involved in school clubs now, as a junior. This could position you for leadership roles next year.
  1. If you aren't doing so already, put effort into hobbies or interests outside of school. Admission officials, especially at the most sought-after colleges, can quickly tire of seeing the same old, same old entries on applications. Although admission folks realize that many school-based endeavors such as Model UN, debate, robotics, etc. require a lot of skill and dedication, these entries don't exactly turn heads when they show up for the gazillionth time. So think about what you enjoy that doesn't necessarily fall under the “School Club" rubric. Check out this old thread on College Confidential about “'Hidden' Extracurriculars" for inspiration: http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-admissions/986932-hidden-extracurriculars-what-are-yours-p1.html Even if a passion you pursue on your own doesn't allow for “leadership," it should help to set you apart from the crowd in a way that school activities won't.
  1. Join community groups. Are there organizations in your city or town that aren't designed for teenagers but might welcome a high school student? Taking part in a mostly-adult endeavor could be a way to explore your interests, meet new people of varying ages, and perhaps even snag a leadership job. This could also be a way to add an activity to your résumé that isn't commonplace.
  1. Use the “Additional Information" section of your application to briefly explain why your school activities list may not rival those of other applicants. But avoid a whiny, “I got screwed when I changed schools" tone. Instead, emphasize the pluses of starting afresh as a junior …. e.g., expanding your social circle, perhaps finding a life-changing teacher, and trying some of the activities suggested in #'s 2 and 3 above that you might not have discovered if you were busy running the Spanish Club or the Yearbook at your old school.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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