High School Jobs that Look Good on College Applications

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Like many teenagers, you may be considering getting a job in high school. You might be surprised to learn that the type of job that you choose can actually impact your college admissions process. While working in general can be a great opportunity to showcase leadership skills and responsibility on your college application, certain jobs carry more weight in the eyes of admissions officers than others. So, which type of job is the best for you? Keep reading to learn more about the jobs that look best on your college apps!

Why Get a Job in High School?

 

There are many benefits to getting a job in high school. First of all, you’ll be making money of course. Even if your job is not highly paid, the money you earn will add up and can go towards anything, from investing in a hobby to opening a college savings account.  

 

Second of all, working allows you to explore your professional interests in a real world setting. Perhaps you have always been interested in a certain industry or career. Picking up a part-time job in your prospective field will not only provide exposure, but also help you to identify (or rule out) specific career paths in the industry. For example, if you are interested in the education sector, working at an after-school program for children could give you some perspective on whether you’d actually enjoy working in the classroom or if you’re more interested in administration or policy. Gaining real world experience early on can help you better tailor your college applications to the programs that best suit your unique interests.

 

Working in high school also teaches you personal responsibility. While you’ve likely had your share of group work in the classroom setting, at work, your ability to manage your time and responsibilities effectively ties directly back to business outcomes. Learning accountability and professionalism early on will make you a strong team player in the longer term.

 

Any of the skills you learn at work will be transferable to other areas of your life. High school students who work often build confidence and learn to solve real world problems on the job– skills that are essential for both college and post-graduate life.

 

As you look for a job, you may be wondering what college admissions officers take into consideration when they see a job listed on an application. We’ve compiled a list of the best jobs for high schoolers and how you should list your responsibilities and the skills you learn on your application. 

10 Jobs that Look Good on College Applications

 

In general, the best kinds of high school jobs are the ones where you gain professional or unique skills that will make you stand out. The skills that you gain can include leadership, juggling many responsibilities, in addition to any field-specific technical skills. 

1. Tutoring

Are you good at a particular subject in school? Then why not monetize your skills? Many students need help in certain subjects, and becoming a tutor can highlight your academic achievements as well as your ability to teach others complicated concepts. Plus, if you’re a really great tutor, you can make a significant amount of money from this job.

2. Food Service & Hospitality

Working as a server at a restaurant or in the hospitality industry teaches you customer service and people skills which will be useful once you enter college. Additionally, hospitality jobs can teach you how to multitask, which will be beneficial both in and out of the classroom. 

3. Assistant Coaching

Coaching a sports team for kids has many benefits. Working with children can teach you the value of patience and make you a more empathetic leader. You’ll also interact with parents often in a coaching role, requiring you to maintain a professional and formal demeanor. 

4. Lifeguarding

Lifeguarding is an essential role that teaches you the value of responsibility and focus. Although you may never witness a lifeguarding emergency, the job requires strong swimming skills, attention to detail, and quick thinking.

5. Retail Work

Retail jobs are a great way to develop customer service skills and flexibility. Typically, these roles are very people-oriented, so pursue an opportunity like this if you’re comfortable in a fast-paced customer-facing role. Retail can help you develop great people skills, learn how to adapt quickly, and become comfortable working in a changing environment.

6. Starting A Self-Employed Business

If you’ve always thought of yourself as entrepreneurial, you may consider starting your own babysitting business. This job can be very lucrative, and it teaches you how to work with both children and adults. Babysitters must be very responsible and patient, and starting your own business can show colleges your willingness to take a healthy risk.

7. Freelance Writing

Are you interested in a remote position? Freelance writing may be for you! You can find writing jobs on freelance websites such as Fiverr or Upwork, which can be completed from the comfort of your own home. Writing professionally can demonstrate your communication skills in a non-academic context and enable you to build a strong portfolio.

 

 8. Translation

If you speak another language fluently, you may consider working as a translator. This job can showcase existing skills or further your education in the target language. Best of all,  translation roles could be either in-person or online. Many freelance websites have remote work options for translators, but don’t be afraid to explore in-person opportunities local to you.

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9. Caddying

If you’re a busy student and looking for a lucrative part-time job, caddying may be perfect for you. Caddies are responsible for taking care of golf players’ clubs and helping advise golfers on the course. This role can help develop your people skills, and even score you some niche scholarship money, as high school caddies are eligible for many prestigious scholarships, such as the Evans Scholarship.

 

10. Web Developer

Do you know how to code? If so, you could work as a web developer. Many freelance websites look for web developers for projects of varying sizes, however you could also start your own business and publicize your services through LinkedIn. Coding is a very valuable skill that shows colleges your special interest in computer science and allows you to execute on a variety of projects either collaboratively or independently.

 

How to List Your Job on Your College Applications

 

If you already have a job, you may be wondering how you should list it on your college applications. On the Common App in particular, there are best practices to listing your extracurricular activities. As the application limits each entry to 150 words, your writing will need to be clear, concise and specific. 

 

When describing your ECs, it’s most important to highlight the skills that you developed and the impact that you had on others rather than listing off responsibilities, quantifying your impact whenever possible. For example, if you worked a restaurant over the summer, you may mention how many customers you served each shift. Remember, admissions officers only spend a few minutes looking at your application, so you should only include the most important facts. Some examples of a Common App extracurricular entry are below:

 

Topic Title: Server at Local Restaurant

Declared Time Commitment: 15 hours per week, 40 weeks per year

Description: Served over 2,000 customers and managed the cash register during the lunch rush on Saturdays.

 

In this example, the description succinctly describes both the responsibilities of the server as well as a metric of how many people were served. For the reader, including the detail of the “lunch rush” implies that the restaurant is typically busy and the server took on many different tasks.

 

Topic Title: Assistant Coach for Little League Baseball

Declared Time Commitment: 4 hours per week on Saturdays, 30 weeks per year

Description: Helped teach 20 3-5-year olds the fundamentals of baseball. Provided empathetic leadership for the children and supported the head coach by developing drills for the players.

 

This example is well-written because the author’s character as a caring leader shines through. At the same time, the description tells the reader exactly what the assistant coach did–developed baseball drills for 20 elementary school children. 

How Do Jobs Impact Your College Chances?

 

Jobs are a great way to showcase a certain skill set you may have and gain valuable soft skills. College administrators often value work experience as it shows initiative and a willingness to work hard.

 

Extracurricular activities can be divided into 4 tiers. Tier 1 activities are rare and difficult to achieve. Below is a list of the tiers and how extracurriculars fall into each tier.

 

Tier 1: National awards for achievement, participating in a rare extracurricular with a national ranking

Tier 2: State rankings for sports, being the president of student council at school

Tier 3: Leadership positions in school clubs such as Model UN, debate, captain of a school sports team

Tier 4: Participating in a school club, volunteer positions, or having a job in high school

 

Typically, high school jobs fall under tier 4, unless you’ve started your own business or had management responsibilities. If you have the time and opportunity to do so, taking on additional responsibilities and gaining recognition at work can help elevate your job to a higher tier extracurricular

 

Wondering how you can maximize your chance of acceptance to college and how your job will be calculated by admissions officers? Check out our free chancing calculator! This handy tool will look at the various activities you participate in and give you an estimate of your chances of getting into the college of your choice.

 

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Short Bio
Juliette is a senior at Cornell University studying Industrial & Labor Relations. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, running, drinking coffee, and exploring different hiking trails in Ithaca.

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