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College is about much more than just academics; universities want to see complex, well-rounded people with specific goals. While it’s vital to have good grades and test scores, that alone isn’t enough to ensure admission to your child’s dream school. So what’s a prospective student to do? Expand your horizons, take a step off the beaten path, and check out these ways to improve your college resume.

Show Your Leadership

Start a club at your school on a topic you care about. Create a fundraiser for a cause that’s near to your heart. Not only does this show off leadership skills, it demonstrates your commitment to and focus on the things that matter. Schools look for these qualities in prospective students.

Start a Business

Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset? Have you always dreamt of being the boss? Then this could be the perfect time to look into that business idea you’ve been mulling over. Even if it’s a small website or weekend activity, being the mastermind behind your own business can  raise you up in the eyes of potential schools.

Travel

Exploring the world is a great way to gain life experience, so if you have the opportunity go for it! Travel is an exciting and unique way to grow as a person (and can make for an excellent college essay). By seeing the world, you can better understand your place in it, and decide where you want the future to take you.

Celebrate Your Hobbies

Do you love art? Are you a fan of the theater? Don’t give up on your passions in favor of another AP class. Instead, pursue them: take an art class, or join the local theater program. Many of the top boarding schools lay heavy emphasis on an art-based education, so if that’s where your passion lies, explore it to its fullest.

Challenge Yourself

You may be coasting through school getting straight A’s, but are you feeling challenged? Are you learning anything? College can be rough, and the best way to prepare is by getting ready as early as possible. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to take hard courses that require extra work and effort. Not only will they challenge you intellectually, they’ll help you prepare for the rigors of college – and make your resume look better too!

Get A Job

Besides helping you save some money (always a big plus), jobs look great on your college resume. They indicate hard work, dedication, and focus – all factors that schools are interested in. Whatever your job is, do your best to frame it in a way that aligns with your future goals. For example, if you work customer service, you can explain that it’s teaching you to stay cool under pressure and providing you with communication skills.

Study Summer

Summer vacation is a great time to relax, but it’s an even better time to improve your college resume. Instead of spending the summer months snoozing by the pool, take a summer course in a subject you want to pursue in college. You can even attend summer camps devoted to the discipline of your choice.