One of the big “check boxes” when you’re putting your applications together is “leadership.”
Having officer positions in your clubs seems like a no brainer. But getting these positions is easier said than done. You might move around in high school; you might go to a school with a ton of students so officer positions are super competitive; you might get to pick from only a couple clubs; or you might just shy away from having to talk in front of a lot of students in an election.

So, what do you do if you don’t win one of these coveted officer positions?

Don’t sweat it if you don’t have a position. You can make it work.

Colleges want to see you excel in things your passionate about. They want to see you take on responsibility and take charge. Officer positions are one way to do that. But admissions officers are not looking at the fancy-schmancy title; what they’re really looking at is what you do.

Committee it up!

Most high school clubs have committees or boards that help run the organization. So if you’re not an official officer, make sure to get involved in any smaller ways you can. Even if it’s a one-time board to get a fundraising event together, help out. A position on a committee with a lot of work looks just as good as an officer position.

Help out with everything.

Similarly, try to help the officers with their jobs. If they need errands run or just someone to help sell water bottles at a sporting event, jump at the chance. They’ll take notice that you’re a helpful part of the club, and they’ll probably start giving you other responsibilities. You might even become an “Assistant VP” or “2nd Historian” for all of your hard work. If you’re not a senior, it could help you win a position the next year, because everyone will know you’re super active.

Create a project.

There are no things for you to do, the officers keep turning you down, no one needs help, and/or you didn’t get any work done on the committee? Never give up! Come up with a project for the club, and make it happen. If it’s a really good idea, the officers will be on board with it, and you can be in charge. Some simple ideas are things like:

  • Adding a community service project to the club to do together (two birds with one stone!).
  • Starting a Relay for Life team.
  • Fundraising for the club’s treasury (bake sales, merch sales, singing telegrams, all fun and easy ways to raise money).
  • Creating club T-Shirts (get a design, collect the orders and the money).
  • Organizing a fun get-together for everyone in the club (my drama club in high school did everything from cupcake decorating to laser tag to a giant murder mystery party).

The thing to remember about officer positions is that they’re all about what you do in that position. So if you don’t have the title, just do the work and colleges will take notice. Make contributions and enjoy your activities. You’ll learn valuable skills, and you’ll get more involved.

And overall, remember that you join clubs to have fun and make friends, not impress colleges!

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the author

Jillian is better known by her pseudonym “CollegeApp Chick", which is half college application blog and half small private college advising business. She’s currently studying Psychology and Religious Studies at a small public school south of the Mason Dixon line. When not advising, studying, or blogging Jillian is an active member of the Shakespeare theatre club, sandbox improv, women’s chorus, and is an officer in a social sorority. She likes to talk, a lot. Most importantly, Jillian wears dresses more than 250 days a year. For more of Jillian’s tips, find her at her website or her Tumblr.

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