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Running for a Leadership Position in an Extracurricular? Here’s How to Win!

When it comes to extracurricular activities, colleges don’t want you to just be involved in as many as possible. They prefer quality over quantity.

What’s a “quality” extracurricular activity? In general, it’s an activity that relates to your interests and passions and that you commit to for a prolonged period. Colleges also want you to take on leadership roles within your extracurriculars.

In this article, we’ll focus on the “leadership” part. Of course, one of the best ways to demonstrate leadership in an extracurricular activity is to get an official leadership position.

Clubs typically elect a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and sometimes other positions like a historian. Getting elected to one of these roles can help you stand out from similarly qualified applicants.

So, how do you accomplish this goal? Read on to find out!

Why does being a club officer impress colleges?

First, you may be wondering why being a club officer is helpful for your college applications.

Here are a few reasons college admissions officers will appreciate your leadership role:

  • It demonstrates dedication, commitment, and a deeper level of involvement.
  • It shows a willingness and ability to take on responsibility.
  • It indicates that your peers believe in your success and leadership ability.
  • It reveals confidence and courage.
  • If you’re deeply involved and making a difference at your high school, it’s safe to assume you’ll do the same when you get to college.

Colleges are looking for students who will get involved and make valuable contributions on campus. They want dedicated, responsible leaders who will make a difference both at school and in the wider world.

Winning a leadership role in an activity that matters to you is one way to show colleges that you’re the type of student they want.

How to Win a Leadership Position

Now that you understand the importance of taking on a leadership role, how do you win one?

It’s important to note that you probably won’t get elected to a leadership position immediately after joining a club. You’ll need to be a member for a while first.

This means whether you’re a freshman or new to the club, putting in some time before running for officer will increase your chances of success.

In the meantime, follow these tips!

How to Make Your Extracurricular Activities Stand Out When Applying to College

Go Above and Beyond

Do more than what’s expected of you as a member of the club. Show up early to help set up, stay later to help clean up, and take on tasks that other people are unwilling to do.

Set a good example and be a role model for others. Be kind and respectful to all club members, take your commitment to the organization seriously, and always be willing to take initiative and lend a helping hand.

When it’s time to elect officers, club members will remember your dedication to the club. By always acting as a role model, you’ll show that you have the maturity and responsibility to handle a leadership position. Club members will trust that the organization is in good hands with you.

Take on More Responsibility

In addition to going above and beyond, actively seek opportunities for additional responsibility. Volunteer for any tasks that need doing, and offer solutions to problems that arise.

When possible, suggest ideas for fundraisers or events. Help increase participation in the club or in an event that the club hosts.

One of the best ways to come up with these ideas is by talking to people about what they like and dislike about various events at your school. Ask others how they recruit people for their clubs and activities. What works and what doesn’t?

By volunteering, solving problems, and introducing innovative ideas, you’ll make it clear that you’d be a great leader within your organization.

Get to Know the Members

If you want to be elected to a leadership position, you should get to know as many club members as possible. Step outside of your comfort zone instead of talking to the same five people at every meeting.

Take an active interest in other people in the club and make an effort to talk to everyone. The more people you know, the more votes you’re likely to receive.

As you mingle with other members, you can also discuss important issues in the club. This will give you an idea of what matters to your peers and what issues you should address in your campaign.

It’s also helpful to get to know your club’s faculty adviser. The adviser will also have important insight to offer about the club. And in some clubs, the adviser gets to select officers.

Know Your Club’s Election or Selection Process

Speaking of faculty advisers selecting officers, it’s important to know how election (or selection) works for your club.

The process varies. You may need to be nominated by another club member, or you may be able to simply announce your intention to run.

In other cases, the adviser or the current leaders of the club select members for leadership positions. If this is the case for your club, your relationships with these decision-makers will be especially important.

If you need to be nominated, make sure you ask someone to nominate you in advance.

Knowing how the process works will ensure that you’re prepared and take all necessary steps to become an officer.

Campaign Correctly

Assuming that your club does elect officers by a vote, you will likely need to campaign. The size of your campaign should be based on what you’ve seen from people running for club officer in the past. Did they come up with a slogan and hang posters, or did they simply talk to people about their ideas?

If conversation is the main campaign strategy, you don’t want to be excessive and cover your school in posters.

Whatever approach you take, think about why the club is important to you and what you’d like to do to improve it. This will be the basis of your campaign.

If you go the poster route, try to come up with a catchy campaign slogan and hang colorful posters around your school, especially in places where members of your club are likely to see them.

If you’re simply going to share your ideas, talk to members of the club about your plans. This is where the relationships you’ve built and the trust you’ve established will come in handy. Some of your best friends or biggest supporters in the club can talk to people for you as well.

Making a Speech

Will you have to give a speech? If so, keep it brief and engaging. Practice what you’re going to say so you don’t ramble and so you can deliver your speech with confidence.

Open with a short anecdote that illustrates why the club is so important to you. Can you think of a memorable or meaningful experience that others will relate to? Speak from the heart and show that you genuinely care about the organization.

Talk about the improvements you’d like to see and your vision for the club in the future. How will you achieve these changes? Remember to be practical — making campaign promises that are clearly unattainable won’t win you any votes.

Discuss the issues that you know are important to other club members. This shows that you’ve been listening and that you’re committed to addressing the issues that matter.

If possible, run the speech by a few members of the club that you’re close with and ask for feedback ahead of time.

53% of admissions officers say that community service has been a tie-breaker between equally qualified students.
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What if you don’t win?

If you don’t win, it’s not the end of your college hopes and dreams. Remember that there are other ways to demonstrate leadership.

Continue volunteering ideas, offering to lead fundraisers or events, and doing what you can to improve the organization. Even if you aren’t club president, you can mention initiatives or ideas you introduced, fundraisers you led, and your solutions to problems on college applications.

Another option is to start your own club. Do you have an interest or skill that isn’t already a club at your school? Starting your own organization is an excellent way to demonstrate creativity, initiative, and leadership.

By going above and beyond, taking on responsibility, getting to know a club’s members, and launching an effective campaign, you’ll give yourself a great chance of being elected to a leadership position. But if you don’t win, there are plenty of other ways to show you’re a leader who will make valuable contributions to any college campus.

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Author: Jason Patel

Jason Patel is the founder of Transizion, a college counseling and career services company that provides mentorship and consulting on college applications, college essays, resumes, cover letters, interviews, and finding jobs and internships. Jason’s work has been cited in The Washington Post, BBC, NBC News, Forbes, Fast Company, Bustle, Inc., Fox Business, and other great outlets. Transizion donates a portion of profits to underserved students and veterans in of college prep and career development assistance.