Work experience in college admissions can be a really good thing! It really can and it’s rather ridiculous that we have to say this. It’s quite rare these days when we encounter high school students who hold part-time jobs. Of course, they can’t hold full-time jobs (except over the summer months) because they’re, well, in high school. But decades ago, it was quite common for high schoolers to hold part-time jobs. Maybe they worked at McDonald’s or maybe they worked as lifeguards at their local YMCA. For whatever reason, fewer and fewer students are holding jobs like this these days.
Maybe it’s because parents don’t think work experience will help their children’s case for admission to highly selective colleges. Maybe they think that getting involved in lots of after-school clubs is the answer. Maybe they think there isn’t value to working part-time, that college admissions officers at America’s most selective colleges don’t value the experience. But these parents could not be more wrong! Of course admissions officers value it. Of course it reflects positively on an applicant. They’re working their way through high school. Invariably, they’re going to come across as more likable. Admissions officers are going to root for these students — much more so than the kids who are involved in a whole lot of random clubs like every other high school student in America (clubs we should add that offer little benefit to applicants and only make it seem like they’re trying to impress admissions officers). Hint: They’re not impressing admissions officers!
So do pursue work experience. Do get that part-time lifeguarding job. Do get a summer job rather than attend some fancy summer enrichment program at Stanford University. Sorry, Stanford. We didn’t mean to single you out. All summer enrichment programs at highly selective colleges are lame. We’ve articulated this many times in many different ways on our website and throughout our college admissions blog over the years. So don’t listen to us at your own risk. But we’d choose the summer job over the Stanford summer enrichment program any day. And so too would an admissions officer — whether they tell you this or not.
Have a question about work experience in college admissions? We’re curious to hear from our readers so post a Comment below and we’ll be sure to write back.