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The Top 5 Leadership Qualities in Students Top Colleges Want

July 25, 2016 Marc Amigone 2 Comments

Top universities can afford to be selective. As the number of college applications steadily rises year after year, applicants have to work harder and harder to distinguish themselves from their competition. With every acceptance universities give out, they’re turning down thousands of qualified applicants for that same spot. They’re looking for students to matriculate at their campus with a purpose and sense of responsibility to uplift and elevate the experience of those around them.

They want students who will take on leadership roles in and out of the classroom and help shape the university experience for years to come.


Here is a list of qualities you can help students foster to attract the attention of top universities:

1. Curiosity

A thirst for knowledge can be a strong motivating factor for anyone, but it can be an especially powerful for a young mind on a university campus. Discovering a new subject area, issue, or cause can be the spark that ignites a lifetime of scholarship and accomplishment. Colleges want students who have that natural sense of curiosity imbued in them from day one so they can set the example for their peers unleashing a tidal wave of inspiration campus-wide. High school and middle school teachers have a unique ability to help their students catch the curiosity bug early on and ride into their college years. Giving them opportunities to explore the world and nurture that sense of curiosity is an extremely valuable gift.

2. Initiative

College is a pivotal time in a young person’s life where they officially leave adolescence and transition into the “adult world.” Universities want to gain as much assurance as possible that those joining their campus community will make the most of the opportunity. If students can show admissions officers a track record of going out of their way to experience new things, self-start and take action, it will help build that initiative-taking profile. Admissions officers often want to know what choices applicants have made, why they made them, and how those choices helped them evolve into the person that could potentially matriculate on their campus.

3. Passion

Enthusiasm and commitment to a field of study are positively contagious qualities universities constantly seek to inject into their campus. Demonstrating to an admissions counselor how and why a student is passionate about a given subject matter will go a long way towards distinguishing their application from the pack. Describing in great detail experiences that have fostered that passion can be fantastic content for personal statements or essays. The more vivid a picture an applicant can paint, the deeper the impression will be left on the admissions counselor. Giving your students opportunities to find their passion will ultimately lead them down that path.

4. Self-Confidence

In order to be a leader, one has to have the self-confidence to inspire others to follow them. Universities want students that will take the bull by the horns and experience all their university has to offer. If an applicant isn’t ready or able to make that leap, then admissions officers will be likely to pass on them as applicants. It’s in students’ best interest to showcase the myriad of ways they’ve built a sense of confidence through experiences in and outside their school setting. How have they gotten outside their comfort zone and forced themselves to grow? Have they spent their entire life inside a bubble or have they sought out experiences that helped them evolve and push their limits? The more they can convey the impact those experiences had on them to admissions officers the better.

5. Cultural Awareness

College campuses are becoming increasingly diverse as time goes on. While admissions counselors evaluate individual applicants, they keep in mind the composition of the class they’re admitting on the whole. With every incoming class, they want to create a group of individuals that will coalesce as a group to co-exist, collaborate, and take the university experience to the next level. At a top university, the likelihood of sharing a room, being in class or sitting across the table at the dining hall from someone from a foreign country are increasingly high. Admissions officers want to be sure the people they’re admitting are going to thrive in that multi-cultural environment.

How do you help your students gain the leadership qualities top universities look for? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Marc Amigone

2 thoughts on “The Top 5 Leadership Qualities in Students Top Colleges Want

  1. Nicely stated Marc! I enjoyed this post and I am forwarding it on to the people in our state who work with student leaders and their advisors.

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