For a busy student who values a good night’s rest (as all students should!), the suggestion that entrepreneurial projects can boost your college application may seem vaguely scary. So, it’s important to view these projects not as means-to-an-end impositions on precious free time, but as a respite from academic work and an opportunity to try out a new pastime.
Here’s three options to give a try:
Begin a volunteer organization
Volunteering provides you with the chance to step outside the bubble of your school’s social confines and to explore the different ways in which you can help people. Unfortunately, many large volunteer organizations include age restrictions that may limit your involvement. Whether your volunteer interests are related to academic subjects such as medicine or politics, diplomacy, or even baseball, consider founding your own volunteer group. Not only is volunteer work frequently eye-opening, you’ll also gain valuable leadership experience.
Teach a class of your own design
You may not readily consider yourself a teacher, but you certainly can be! Teaching in after-school programs or summer camps are wonderful opportunities to contribute to your community while also demonstrating to colleges that you’re capable of conveying knowledge to others. Consider petitioning a program to allow you to lead a class of your own design, on a subject that interests you. Teaching experience can also pay in college (literally!). A student who arrives at college with high school teaching experience is in an excellent position to secure TA (teaching assistant) positions later on that will likely pay more (and be more rewarding) than typical college jobs.
Start a business
Even if you’re not interested in business as an academic or vocational path, experimenting with business ideas demonstrates proactivity and courage. Colleges love to see that applicants are confident enough to give their ideas a whirl. If you have a particular skill (baking, photography, or playing the violin, for example), market that skill and continue to hone it. For example, small-scale, grassroots businesses that command 10-20 hours per week can help students develop skills in areas they find interesting. Ultimately, these projects can even help you learn to save, allocate your earnings, and perhaps pay for college!
Remember, entrepreneurial projects are inherently worth pursuing—they are far more than just hoops to jump through on the way to submitting an excellent college application.