Work experience shows qualities about you that test scores can’t. Like you’re responsible, you’re willing to work hard and you go the extra mile. Past jobs highlight different skill sets a test can’t. Plus, if you apply for college with gap years in your education, any jobs you held in that time boost your college application.

Choosing a good job helps your college application stand out. Certain jobs can pull more weight than others. For example, working as a shift manager at your local grocery store could help get you noticed more than driving for Uber. Colleges look for leadership roles in work experience. Generally, you get more opportunities for leadership in a traditional job.


If you’re particularly skilled in an area of study, try tutoring middle or high school students. Tutoring looks great on a resume because it shows you’re a master in a subject. Say you didn’t score as high on math as you hoped, but you’re math tutor—including this work experience on your college application shows you have a strong foundation in math.

Retail Jobs

Everyone seems to have retail experience, so how does this set you apart? Retail experience is surprisingly valuable as work experience on your college application. You’ve probably gained more skills than you realize. Most jobs require, at minimum, basic computer skills, problem-solving skills and people skills. These are all must-haves for college.

Fast food

Working in the fast-paced environment of the fast food industry shows you can perform under stress and you’re a fast learner. You have to pick up skills quickly to contribute to the overall success of the restaurant. A strong ability to multi-task is usually required in the fast food industry, and this is a great skill. Getting into management and leading your peers is also great traits to highlight in your college application essay.

Jobs with longevity

The test of time with a job goes a long way. Maybe your high school job was only six hours a week, but you kept it for two years. Talk about that in your college application essay! Staying that long shows commitment and loyalty. It also shows discipline over a length of time, which is important for success in college.