Will a High School Job Help or Hurt My College Application?

August 26, 2021
By AdmissionSight

Will a High School Job Help or Hurt My College Application?

Whether you want a source of income or have a genuine interest in gaining some experience in a particular field, you might be considering getting a job in high school. While there are some obvious advantages to earning some money and gaining real-world experience, there’s some disagreement about how this impacts a student’s college outlook. Some people argue the experience looks great on an application while others claim high schoolers should focus solely on their academics. So, the question still remains, “should I have a job in high school?”

Young woman shaking the hand of a man for a job interview.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to look at today! We’ll explore why having a job in high school can help your chances of getting into college, when it can work against you, along with some specific jobs you could consider.

Does having a job in high school look good on college applications?

Yes! Having a job in high school can definitely look good on your college application. As long as it doesn’t end up negatively impacting other key areas such as academic performance and extracurricular participation, working in high school is an excellent way to increase the strength of your application. But how does working help you get into college exactly? Here are a few reasons to consider:

It shows organizational skills.

Handling a job on top of your studies shows a high level of organization and attention to detail. You’re forced to prioritize what’s important, manage your time diligently, and monitor your performance in multiple areas. When you’re in college, you’ll be juggling a variety of responsibilities on top of your academics. Admissions officers will know you’re capable of handling that workload when seeing your work experience.

It demonstrates commitment.

Colleges love to see applicants who are dedicated. This commitment is a good indication that a student will have what it takes to perform well at the collegiate level. When holding a job in high school, you have to show up on time consistently, follow through on your responsibility daily, work with colleagues regularly, and positively interact with customers often. All of this shows a high level of commitment to the role in addition to staying on top of your studies.

It shows maturity.

Colleges are a big step up from high school. Admissions officers are always looking for applicants that display the maturity to succeed at college. While there are many ways to demonstrate it, having a part-time job when in high school is an excellent way to show your maturity. It proves you are driven to reach your goals, understand the importance of hard work, have the ability to work in a team, and can interact with people cordially and respectfully.

It shows academic mastery.

Wait, how does holding a job prove your academic abilities? Well, if you can hold down a job while continuing to nail your courses and score high on exams, there’s no question you have an excellent grasp of the material. Although you can certainly demonstrate this knowledge without having a job, admissions officers will certainly take notice.

What are some other advantages of having a high school job?

You’ll earn some money.

One of the most obvious and highly motivating advantages of getting a job in high school is earning an income. Who doesn’t enjoy having some extra cash on hand? You can use this money to buy a car, invest in financial assets, or save up for college. Of course, part of your paycheck should go towards having a good time! After all, you’ve earned it.

You’ll develop new skills.

No matter what job you hold in high school, you’ll develop a new set of skills that won’t just help strengthen your application. These new abilities will prove useful in other areas of your life. For example, learning how to work as part of a team will benefit you in your future career. Also, developing interpersonal skills will help you in all future relationships.

Pro Tip: Make sure you’re referencing these skills when filling out your college application! Admissions officers care more about who you became in the process of working rather than what kind of work you did. But we’ll cover this topic more in-depth later on.

You’ll gain work experience.

Getting a high school job is an excellent way to beef up your application and catch the attention of admissions officers. But the advantages of this extra effort extend far beyond your academic future. Olding a job in high school gives you real-life work experience which will come in handy in the future. No matter what job you’re applying for, employers love to see some previous work history. Whether you’re applying for a part-time job during college to make a side income or you’re out of college and trying to start a career, this work experience will come in handy.

Student talking to someone on a coffee shop for a job.

What jobs look good on a college resume?

Having a job in high school is a great way to ensure your college application stands out from the crowd. But what kind of jobs would accomplish that goal? Here, we’ll take a look at some common high school jobs that could help you reach the ultimate of getting into the school of your choice.

Tutoring

Do you excel in a particular subject? What if you could monetize those skills while improving your college application at the same time? Sounds pretty good, huh? Working as a tutor allows you to take your strengths in school and turn them into a source of income. You can tutor fellow high schoolers who are struggling in a subject or lower classmen. Tutors are always in high demand, and colleges will love to see you improving your academic abilities while helping others.

Foodservice & hospitality

Working as a server or in a restaurant is common among high schoolers. The hours are flexible and these positions don’t require a lot of prior experience. But how do they look on a college resume? Well, any position in the hospitality sector shows admissions officers that you know how to stay organized and multitask successfully. These positions also demonstrate an ability to work with others to achieve a common goal  -something that’s important in college.

Young student serving coffee to a customer.

Retail

Retail jobs are another common choice for high schoolers. These positions have low barriers of entry, flexible schedules, and excellent pay. But how do they look on a college application? Really good! Retail jobs require you to work as part of a team while enhancing a lot with customers. These positions can demonstrate to admissions officers your ability to work as a productive member of a team, interact well with others, take the lead when necessary, and consistently follow through on your responsibilities.

Assistance coaching

Many students who have dreams of attending prestigious universities such as those in the Ivy League feel the need to avoid sports, thinking they reflect poorly on an application. In reality, working as an assistant coach might just be the perfect high school job for you. It demonstrates your abilities as an effective leader and instructor. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding available assistant coaching roles but some might not offer any compensation. If you’re truly passionate about a certain sport or the coaching role in general, it might still be a worthwhile consideration.

Freelance writing

Have you always been a naturally good writer in school? You might be able to find a gig as a freelance writer? Whether writing for your local paper or an online blog, there are a variety of ways to monetize your writing abilities. There are a bunch of sites where you can find work. You’ll be earning an income while strengthening your writing chops which will come in handy in college. Freelance writing gives you the flexibility to set your own schedule and work as much or as little as you want – making it a great choice for high schoolers with busy schedules.

Writing in a notebook using a pen.

Translation

Did you grow up speaking another language? Or maybe you studied hard in high school to learn a new language? If you’re confident in your language skills, you might be able to find work as a translator. This job demonstrates your language skills in real-life settings while furthering your education in the language. There is no shortage of fields that rely on translators to keep their businesses running smoothly in such an interconnected world. Admissions officers love to see multilingual skills, especially when students are using them for a job.

Summer jobs

Don’t have the time during the school year but still want the benefits of having a job? Summer gigs are a perfect balance. You’ll get the professional experience and income you want while still giving your studies all of your attention. You could pick up a seasonal job like landscaping, mowing lawns, or lifeguarding. Or, you could find positions with a lot of flexibility. Either way, summer jobs show admissions officers that you’re committed to your studies, organized, hard-working, and committed.

Entrepreneurship

Have an idea you want to turn into a business? High school is the perfect time to do it! You have a ton of free time and not a lot of responsibilities. But will it look good on a college application? Definitely! Starting your own business shows commitment, independence, ingenuity, and courage – all attributes that college admissions officers love to see on applications. Even if your startup doesn’t make any money, the fact that you put in the effort to pursue a goal will reflect positively on your application. So, don’t hold back! Take that idea of yours and see what you can make of it.

Counting money on a table.

Anything related to your major.

If you can land a gig that falls in line with your major or intended area of study, don’t hesitate to take it. This is the holy grail of high school jobs! Not only do you get to explore a field that interests you, but you’re also demonstrating your commitment to developing your skills in that area.

This shows admissions officers that you’re confident in your academic trajectory, familiar with the field, and willing to put in the work to further develop. If you can find a job related to your major that pays, you’ve found the best high school job! However, you might even want to consider an unpaid internship if it lines up with your academic interests.

How to effectively list high school jobs on a college application

As with anything on your application, the high school job you held is only going to be as impressive as how you make it sound. What does that mean exactly? Well, admissions officers don’t have any other information about your employment history other than what you provide on the application. In order to ensure your high school jobs reflect positively on you and actually work towards your ultimate goal of acceptance, it’s imperative that you list them correctly.

 

On the Common Application, which the vast majority of colleges and universities accept, you’re provided just 150 words on each entry. This means you have only a dozen sentences or so to convey the value of your high school job and how it relates to your admission into the university in question. To do this successfully, you’ll need to be succinct, clear, and to the point. There’s no space to waste even one word.

When writing about your high school job, it’s important to talk about the skills you’ve developed in the process in addition to the impact the role had on others. Some students simply list their responsibilities without ever mentioning the broader impact of their job. This reads more like a resume than an application and won’t help you catch the attention of admissions officers.

For example, if you were a tutor during the school year, you could talk about how you developed leadership skills, patience, hard work ethic, determination, and empathy. You could also mention how you helped others accomplish their own academic goals. The key here is to tell admissions officers directly without forcing them to assume how your high school job is relevant to your admissions application. Show them!

Conclusion: Should I have a job in high school?

Now that you know how having a high school job can improve your college outlook and when it can hurt, you might still be wondering what you should do. It’s an important decision, so let’s break it down a bit further to help you make the best choice.

When you should get a high school job

  • You have enough free time to accommodate a part-time job.
  • You’re on track academically to earn the grades for which you’re striving.
  • You could benefit from having a source of income.
  • You’re confident in your ability to handle both the responsibilities of a job and school.

When you shouldn’t get a high school job

  • You’re falling short of where you want to be academically in preparation for college.
  • You don’t have enough free time to accommodate a part-time job.
  • You’re already finding school responsibilities to be overwhelming.
  • You don’t have a desire or need for income.

Deciding whether or not a high school job will help or hurt your chances of getting into college is entirely dependent upon your current circumstances. If you can handle a job while continuing to rock in school, it’s a great way to gain some experience while diversifying your resume. If having a job would negatively impact your academic performance, it’s a bad idea.

Get into the school of your dreams

Looking for some guidance when it comes to preparing for college? Look no further! AdmissionSight is a leading provider of college admissions services. What’s that exactly? We’re glad you asked!

We specialize in helping high schoolers just like you increase their chances of getting not their dream schools. The college admissions process doesn’t have to be confusing, daunting, or stressful. When you have a committed and knowledgeable professional on your side, you’ll know exactly what it takes to reach your goal.

At AdmissionSight, we have a proven track record of success. With 3 out of every 4 of our students getting accepted into an Ivy League or Top 10 university, you can rest assured that our services will make a marked difference in your college opportunities.

All of our services are specifically designed to help improve your application in the most important areas. This way, college admissions officers will take notice of your application even amongst a pile of thousands of other applicants.

Interested in learning more about what we offer? Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

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