The Importance of WORK On Your College Application

high school job

Before I submitted my college applications, I had my mom take a look at everything.

“You forgot to list your after school job!” she remarked.

“I’m not putting it. I sell shoes. It’s not impressive,” I replied.

Oh, how wrong I was. As it turns out – and as I had confirmed by my guidance counselor before sending my application off – those “unimpressive” jobs are absolutely worth listing. We touched on it before in our previous blog post, “How Should Your Student Spend Their Summer?” but part-time, afterschool work should not be discredited in the college application process, for several reasons.

They show that you’re responsible.

If you’re waking up at 7 a.m. to go to work on a Sunday, you’re already more responsible than many high school students. Having a job – any job – means showing up somewhere on time and working hard for a paycheck. That’s impressive in itself.

You’ve proven you can manage your time wisely.

Balancing work and school is hard, period. Holding a job during high school often means studying before school because you have a shift after school, or working on homework during your break. If you play sports or participate in other extracurriculars, you have to schedule your time even more carefully. This time management looks excellent on any college app.

They’re character building.

It would be great to only work jobs from comfortable chairs in air-conditioned offices, but it’s humbling to start at the bottom of the food chain. Don’t omit a job you’ve held just because it wasn’t the most mentally-stimulating or “remarkable.” Those hours I spent dusting shelves and even cleaning toilets taught me the value of a dollar, and that’s a valuable lesson to put on an application.

Jobs provide real world experience that you simply don’t get in school.

Even if your high school job has nothing to do with your future major or career, that doesn’t mean you haven’t learned anything you’ll continue to use. I’ve never used my extensive knowledge of Nike running shoes I acquired from my shoe store gig, but I certainly took other lessons with me. Jobs teach us to deal with all types of people, from difficult customers to slacking co-workers. They teach us to think on our feet and be accountable for our mistakes. In many ways, our first jobs teach us how to be adults.

It’s easy to feel like your time spent making sandwiches or changing diapers or mopping floors won’t catch anyone’s eye in the competitive college admissions process – but I’m here to tell you, it will. Your job highlights your work ethic, and that’s something you can be extremely proud to share.