How to Stand Out in High School?

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Are you in a large high school? Are you trying to find ways to stand out and asking yourself how you can stand out in school? There are plenty of ways to do that, even if your GPA isn’t the best. Of course, being a troublemaker is one of the easiest to stand out, but assuming you want to go to college, that isn’t the path you should take. Consider the other varieties of ways to stand out that are better for your college applications, and take them to heart since they can help you immensely with your chances of getting into the college you want.

What Makes a Student Stand Out?What Makes a Student Stand Out?

There are a lot of things that make a student stand out, both good and bad. Naturally, you’ll want to avoid the bad things that make you stand out, like being expelled or having a terrible GPA, but the good things you want to pursue. Contrary to popular belief, having good grades isn’t everything colleges look at, so you can relax if your grades aren’t the highest they can possibly be. The main thing to focus on is to set yourself apart in high school, which is covered next.

How to Set Yourself Apart in High School?

How to Set Yourself Apart in High School?

If this is a question you’re asking yourself, you should double down on your studies and start looking for opportunities to make yourself known to people you think will be important for your future. The main thing you’re going to want to do to stand out is to start getting involved with the school as a whole. Don’t just breeze through each day; get to know your teachers, which will also get them to know who you are and what kind of student you are as well. Join some clubs or a sport, and if possible, run for student government.

One cannot stress enough the importance of student leadership in high school, so get as many examples of you acting as a leader as you can. Colleges want to nurture and raise students who can make a difference in the world, so they look for students who show the potential of becoming great leaders. Student government is one of the easiest examples that colleges like since it shows that you’ve both shown the qualities required to become a leader and that you’re a likable person since enough people voted for you to get elected. It’s one of the easiest ways to stand out in high school, so jump on the opportunity if you can.

Volunteer work is another way of how to stand out in school. You already need community service hours to graduate in most high schools, and getting more of them looks good on applications (and resumes). Having a good amount of volunteering in your high school career shows that you’re both hard-working and compassionate, which colleges naturally love. It’s pretty easy to get volunteer hours too, any charity is guaranteed to need people and would gladly appreciate the help. You’ll both be doing the community a good and doing yourself a good as well. Just don’t forget to log the hours somewhere, so you have proof that you actually did it and have some sort of confirmation from a charity worker ready in case you need to provide that kind of proof.

How to Stand Out in Your College Applications?

How to Stand Out in Your College Applications?

If you’re not confident in your grades and academic record to carry you through your application, the essay is extremely important. A good essay can make you stand out from the rest, because the admissions office does, in fact, read them. There are plenty of resources out there on the internet that can help you with writing the perfect college admissions essay, and it’s highly suggested that you use them to assist you in writing. A few tips, however:

  • Don’t be overly wordy. A good, concise essay will get you higher marks than a long, convoluted one that makes the same point.
  • Don’t procrastinate on writing. The earlier you can get to writing, the better the odds that it’ll turn out better, since you’ll have more time to proofread and revise the essay.
  • Follow the prompt. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get sidetracked and go on a tangent that has nothing to do with the original essay question. Revision and proofreading is key to catching mistakes like that, which is also why you shouldn’t procrastinate.

Make sure to follow the basic proofreading and revision tips as well, like reading your essay out loud to catch mistakes. You’d be surprised about how a simple method can be so useful in catching grammar mistakes. Other than that, feel free to use any resources you can get your hands on, since that’ll increase the likelihood of a perfect essay.

If possible, attempt to make contact with your admissions office at the college you’re applying to. If they know who you are, the better your chances are. If you can schedule an interview with them, do that, but that’ll mean you have to attend an interview. Some tips to ace that interview:

  • Make a good first impression. Dress professionally, or at least nicely. Don’t show up messy and unkempt, get a haircut if you need to.
  • Think about what you’re going to say beforehand. It doesn’t hurt to plan out what you’re going to recite, as the important thing is to have an air of confidence about you. That means avoid stuttering, and avoid using slang. Some interviewers will automatically dump your application if you use the word “like” too much, since it shows that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
  • Hold eye contact and have a firm handshake. Again, this is about showing your confidence to the admissions officer, and will also help with your first impressions as well.

Overall, just treat the interview like a job interview and you’ll be fine. If you already have a job, think about the interview you had to do and try to replicate the confidence you had back then. It may seem more stressful now, since this has a bigger impact on your future, but overcoming those nerves is everything. Have your parents or siblings help you practice if you want, them being the interviewer and you being the interviewee. And if you are nervous when you show up, the admissions officer will probably be understanding and give you some leeway when it comes to that, so don’t sweat it. Showing up to the interview is a huge boost to your college application in the first place, so a little nerves won’t hurt you too much to detract from the act itself.

3 Things That Will Make You Stand Out in High School

Besides everything that’s been stated so far, there are a few more ways to stand out in high school, which will help you answer the question “What makes me stand out from other students?”:

Letters of Recommendation

Stuff like letters of recommendation are why it’s so important to get to know your teachers and for them to get to know you, since the better they know you, the more they can accurately reflect what kind of student you are and what your strengths are in their letter. Most colleges only take up to three letters, so make sure to ask teachers who teach subjects related to your major. For example, if you’re planning on being an engineering major, ask your math and engineering teachers for a recommendation.

Having a job

Now, having a job interview is a good way to practice for a college admissions interview, but holding that job and working it is also a good look on your application. Having a job shows that you’re hard-working and reliable, so make sure to mention it on your college application.


Military life might not be for everybody, but thankfully, if you’re in JROTC, you aren’t obligated to serve in the military for four years like you are in ROTC. If you didn’t know, JROTC stands for Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp, and ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corp. JROTC is a good way to stand out in applications, for fairly obvious reasons such as dedication and service to your country, and it also paves the way for ROTC scholarships in college, if you so choose. It’s free education, just remember that you have to serve for four years as an officer after you graduate college.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Stand Out in High School?

Overall, there are a lot of things besides grades that help you stand out in high school. It definitely helps to have good grades, but it isn’t everything that you need for a college application. And if your grades aren’t that good, stepping up on the extracurricular things that you can do will definitely put you in the spotlight for consideration on your application. Just remember not to miss your deadlines, don’t procrastinate, and get yourself known out there. Don’t be a troublemaker, try to be as close to a model student as you can get.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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