There are eight Personal Insight Questions on the University of California’s freshman application. The very first one is about leadership: “Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolved disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.” To answer this question, I ask my students to walk me through their activities list.
We look at clubs, sports, and class projects that might involve working in groups or, ideally, being in charge of a group. I ask a lot of questions about their experience: What type of leadership skills did the situation require? Did you have these skills when you started? Did you develop these skills along the way?
Most students are very humble. They recognize where they need to improve. Some look forward to returning to the same activity–sometimes to the same role–to try to do better senior year. The lucky ones might find a mentor, but many will learn (or flounder) on the job, with little support or no direction.
Schools don’t provide leadership training for students, like workplaces do for employees. Still, smart students can take advantage of all the training resources out there. Here are a few that come highly recommended by my college counseling pals. Why not read one of these books over the summer? Go back to school with new skills to test out–and new stories to tell on your UC application!
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Steve Covey
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Grit by Angela Duckworth
Pour Your Heart into It by Howard Schultz
Colleges look for students who are curious, who love to learn, and who are self motivated. Reading one of these books proves you are all three!