leadership: lead·er·ship | \ ˈlē-dər-ˌship (n)- the act of being in charge of an organization or a group
That is a general definition of leadership, but the word can take on a variety of meanings depending on the situation. We’ve had military officers, business tycoons, captains of sports teams, and members of Congress and the Executive Office who are all people who embody the word “leader” in different ways. This article poses the question of what leadership truly means and sheds some light on how it is perceived.
For our purposes, we’d like to take a look at leadership as it pertains to the college admissions process. More and more, colleges are considering an applicant’s character in conjunction with grades, class rigor, and other criteria when deciding which applicants to accept. The Character Collaborative is an organization established in 2016 whose mission is to foster the importance of character-related attributes into the college and secondary school admissions process. Determining both leadership skills and leadership potential most definitely falls into the discussion relating to character.
So what are admissions offices looking for when trying to ascertain an applicant’s leadership? Being active in student government or being named president of a club can be important in the review, but the assessment of leadership runs deeper than that. Colleges are looking for students who take initiative, motivate others, and make a lasting impact, not just the title of “captain” or “president.”
Leadership skills can shine in many ways, but this won’t happen overnight. Students should look for organizations that interest them and build relationships to help cultivate leadership opportunities. Taking the initiative and volunteering to organize a coat drive and deliver them to a homeless shelter or spearheading the club’s bake sale to raise money that speaks to the mission of the organization are perfect examples of exhibiting leadership, and they have nothing to do with being an officer in the club.
Essentially, when assessing leadership, it’s your actions that speak loudly and that contribute to the organization, your school, your community. So remember to “walk the walk, not just talk the talk” when it comes to your activities, and colleges will most definitely recognize you as a true leader.