Associated Student Body (ASB) or Student Council – The best opportunity to build your leadership skills
High-school sets the stage for students to identify their future goals and aspirations. And, if you are just about to get into high school, be prepared for days bustling with extracurriculars, sports, projects, quizzes and competitions, student council, and more. All these activities have one clear-cut purpose – to nurture well-rounded students who have the confidence to take up such challenges and emerge as winners.
As a high schooler, you will learn various life skills with each choice you make. Whatever your interest may be, there is ample learning opportunity for you. A summer program at TASP will give you ample opportunity to build on your problem-solving skills. Participating in competitions like the Science Olympiad will nourish your hunger for creativity and innovation. Even something like pursuing theatre during your high school summer will teach you some valuable life skills.
One such important skill that you must work on during your high school days is leadership. Needless to say, some students naturally shine at leadership. The case has been made that athletes, active debate participants, students who are interested and involved with community service – these are the students who either have innate leadership quality or have over-the-time acquired it through their pursued interest. But, what about the rest of the students? Not only is leadership an important interpersonal skill to obtain but is most certainly also a personality trait that top colleges look for in applicants.
But just because some of you may never have got the right opportunity or the right platform to exhibit your leadership calibre, you shouldn’t have to face the disappointment of receiving a college rejection letter.
Whether you’ve previously ever demonstrated leadership ability or not, when in high school you have the ripe opportunity to build on this important trait. Students who wish to hone their leadership skills can attempt to join the student council, which is a formally associated student body that takes up exemplary voluntary work with the mission to develop, train, and prepare better leaders of tomorrow.
In high school, being a student council member is highly sought after by students who have an inclination towards community service and are looking for the needed guidance on how to lead these initiatives rightfully. It is the duty of the student council to ensure that these high school students are able to understand the nature and role of leadership correctly, sharpen their skills, and develop a leadership-attitude that’s aimed at a larger good.
With this, let’s get to know a bit more about this association and its importance in building better leaders.
The Student Council and its role in creating leaders of tomorrow
Each school in the U.S. has a student council or a student body that is responsible for carrying out school activities, organizing events, and looking after the interests of the students for that school. The members of the associated student body are elected by fellow students and member advisors. Every school is free to uniquely define the purpose, objectives, vision, and mission for their associated student body.
The Modern American School’s defined mission for its student council, for example, is to “serve, advance, and protect the interests of the students at the Modern American School”. The school states clear objectives that the student council has to unfailingly deliver on, some of which we’ve mentioned below:
- Foster communication among students, administrators, staff, and the community.
- Promote, organize, and execute activities that encourage school spirit
- Develop good citizenship
- Provide a forum for student expression
- Plan special events, projects, charity, and school celebrations and special occasions
Members are elected to form the student council for the Modern American school during the first month of each new academic year. To campaign for the elections, the students have to prepare and present a brief speech to the existing associated student body describing the purpose and plans for the school he/she wishes to work on once elected.
If you were to ask us, the secret of drafting a winning essay for running a seat in the student council, we’d say think of it as no less than a college application essay. It should be thought-provoking, and more importantly, a true reflection of your personality and abilities. Even better if you could wrap it all up and present in an awe-inspiring narrative or personal story.
Additionally, your presentation must speak from your heart about how you can help make the school better. It should clearly establish why you deserve to represent your school and what makes you the most suitable candidate for the position.
As a student council member, you must be someone who understands that the real value of leadership lies not in holding a position of power but in serving and ineffectively driving the pack towards fulfilling common goals. Every student council, irrespective of the school, shares this common objective – To inculcate a sense of responsibility, foster a strong sense of service, and to enroot empathy in the elected leaders. Having talked about what the associated student body we now move to learn its role in raising bona fide leaders.
Leadership lessons and skills that the student council fosters
The foremost objective of every student is to help show leaders the right path and the right approach to leadership. High school students are fascinated by the idea of assuming a powerful leadership role that brings undeniable authority to it. However, know that on the other side of this role lies inescapable responsibility. The student council brings aspiring leaders face-to-face with this ‘other side’ of leadership.
Working for your school as a member of the associated student body will help shed all misconceptions about leadership. And, will prepare you for the real deal. You will learn some of the key life lessons that are shared by some of the world’s most influential leaders.
We enlist six such leadership lessons and skills that you can look forward to developing if elected in your school’s associated student body.
As a student council member, you will be required to closely work with others to accomplish tasks that you’ve collectively decided on. Remember that every single member is representing the school’s council. As such, you aren’t entitled to making any stand-alone decisions.
Every time a student comes up to you with his/her problem it should be your foremost responsibility to discuss it with the other members and arrive at a solution in the interest of the school and the individual student.
When you get into the groove of working with teams there are many big and small life lessons that you will pick up. For example, you will learn how to collaborate even with those people who have very little in common with you. You will also learn how to make your point and be heard even in a room full of people who stand in an equally powerful position.
In this, you’ll also learn that ‘actions, logic, and data, are louder than words’. It’s a powerful skill that you will master that later in life will make you shine at any managerial position. You’ll be truly valued and looked up to as a leader if you know the art of making joint decisions without having to compromise your stand.
A valuable lesson in leadership comes from Robert Townsend, a coveted leader and the author of the book, Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits. He quotes, “A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” Townsend through his books ignites and propels the idea of selfless service in leaders in the making.
That’s the kind of philosophy that high school student councils look up to. All members of the student council are required to keep the interest of school students above everything else.
From guiding school students in improving their skills to helping them overcome their shortcomings/weakness to preventing ragging and bullying to encouraging participation in events – as a leader you will be required to serve without bias. Imbibing a selfless service attitude right when you are in high school is going to reflect in your personality wherever you go and in whatever you do.
Developing an empathic outlook towards your school mates you will automatically pick up the quality of vicarious introspection – an ability to understand why people behave the way they do, or what motivates them, what they fear, how they feel for undertaking an action or for their inaction, etc. It’s a brilliant trait to work on if you really wish to drive people using their desires and motivational propellers as bait for goal accomplishment. Of course, alongside keeping in mind valuable ‘human’ feelings.
It would be important to add here that while working on your ‘service attitude’ and ‘empathy skills’ you’ll come face-to-face with a number of shortcomings that hid deep within you. You’ll realize that probably you aren’t a great listener or judge too soon. You’ll be challenged to shake your pre-existing notions and beliefs.
Without a doubt, you’ll be learning an important interpersonal skill. Additionally, keeping clear notes or a diary of how you ‘evolved’ as an empathetic leader while being associated with the high school student council will help you craft a compelling personal essay for your college application.
Handling conflict and approaching problems with the intent to solve them is another important skill that you learn as a member of the student council.
Even something as simple as organizing a winter fest may pose a number of challenges you couldn’t ever have thought of if you weren’t the one responsible for making the event a success.
You will be nudged out of your comfort zone when you have to raise funds within a week’s time and get everyone in your class to participate in the event. How do you solve the challenge of making the winter fest a huge success when you don’t have enough funds at hand? Is a small-scale fest something that students will like to enroll? What about the post-fest jam session?
Imagine being short on funds and you can’t pay for a band. How about preparing school students to form their own band and perform live? Now, that’s a solution! However, not without its own set of problems. Be prepared for continuously working on your problem-solving skills when on the school’s associated student body.
Once again, problem-solving attitude is not just a great skill to structure your life around but can prove to be a great boost for your college application too. So, if you are thinking of applying to an Ivy League college or any top-ranking college in the U.S., don’t forget to take notes on how you managed to overcome the challenges you faced while working as a school student council member. It’s going to make an impressive and engrossing read for admissions officers who will be comparing you with the 30,000 or more other applicants from across the globe.
Lead by Example
As a member of the student council, you’ll be looked up to by my peers. Your personality should reflect your commitment to fulfilling the promises you make. The impression you leave with everything you do will leave an important mark on everyone who is hearing you or following your paved path for the school’s betterment.
So, how do you lead by example? How do you command respect with each action you take? How do you show that leadership is not about talking the talk but about walking the talk? All of it boils down to your ability to set smart goals and coming up with logical action plans to achieve them.
Demonstrating ‘excellence’ in goal accomplishment is easier said than done. It will require you to win everyone’s trust, get everyone on the same page with your ideas and approach, create a conducive environment, and always deliver on commitment. Through this process, you will learn to openly listen to others, develop professionalism, confidence, positive body language, and eventually a strong personal identity. These skills will help you throughout your life, in general, as well as in your professional journey.
Additionally, those who lead by action and are keen on setting a positive example also hold a special place for feedback. When organizing events or functions as a member of your school council, you too should give due importance to feedback.
Remember that no matter how good you may be there is always some scope for improvement. Talk to others about what they think could have made the event better. Ask them if they have ideas for the next upcoming event.
Gathering feedback will not only help you realize your shortcomings but will also bring you closer to the people you are working for. Gladly accept feedback and strive to fill the gaps. You’ll see the difference in the attitude of people towards you when you involve them in your work and make them feel heard. They’ll be assured that you are a rightful representative of their student council.
Working as a student council you may come across skills you never actually thought you possessed. If you are someone who never was interested in sports or extracurriculars it would have been all the less evident that to you that you actually can shine in a leadership role too.
As such, being a part of the student council and getting to work for your school’s and student’s welfare gets you closer to the idea that leadership is a skill that can be learned or acquired. So, if you are keen on learning this important life skill the upcoming section talks about how you can join your school’s associated student body.
Joining your school’s student council – Application process and requirements
Making it to your high school student council is just as competitive as getting into college. Your campaign speech has to be extremely impressive. Take it as seriously as you would take your college essay to be.
But, before you get on with writing your speech, there are a few things you need to take note of if you are keen to win a seat in your school’s student council. We’ll take these up one by one.
1. Identify the position you should be applying for
Do a thorough evaluation of the position you wish to apply for. Each position has specific corresponding responsibilities and duties. Match your skills and expertise with the role and responsibilities of each position and evaluate which role you would be the best fit for.
Trying to run for a position for the first time? It’s advisable that you file for a smaller position, say that of a secretary. Having first proved your mettle at that position gives you brighter chances of winning a presidential role in the future.
2. File your application
You’ll be required to fill in some basic details like your name, age, the position that you are applying for, home address, etc. Apart from this, you may be required to answer questions like:
- What do you think is the main objective of our school’s associated student body?
- Describe how you can help a student take up a hobby?
- How have you helped someone, outside school, in the past year?
- What goal would you like to achieve for your school this year?
All these questions are trying to evaluate how involved and committed you are towards the betterment of your school and its students. Answer each of these questions with utmost genuineness and to the best of your ability.
3. Build your confidence
You can work on your confidence by practicing public speaking and working on your networking. Make sure you are comfortable addressing the masses. Even an extraordinary speech fails to generate interest if the speaker lacks conviction, passion, and confidence in body language.
But why networking, you ask? When you are affable with people who you normally don’t talk to, and try to develop a shared interest, you are automatically perceived as ‘trustworthy’, and ‘approachable’. And, your school students will be more likely to vote for you if they see you as caring, friendly, and approachable.
4. Advertise a bit
A bit of branding and advertising will go a long way in your run for a seat on the student council. To get students to know you a bit more use posters and advertisements to your advantage.
Get creative and show your humorous side to win their hearts. Students will love electing someone who doesn’t just have great ideas but has a fun-side to him/her too. If you are allowed to use social media you can think about running interesting Facebook polls or Instagram story campaigns as an advertising exercise for your campaign.
Need help applying for the student council?
If at any step you need help understanding how you can strengthen your chances of getting elected in your school’s associated student body, we are just a phone call or email away.
At AdmissionSight we are committed to helping you build on any aspect that you may be lagging at. Do get in touch, especially, if you are looking at getting a complete academic and extracurricular profile evaluation. This exercise will not only prove beneficial for you to understand the position you should be applying for in your school’s student council but will also be very fruitful while applying for a reputed college of choice.