Tips to Develop Leadership Skills in College

College is very much an academic pursuit – a phenomenal chance to expand upon your knowledge of the world. However, it’s also a great place to flex your leadership muscles and to develop skills that will assist you in the future. If you’re hoping to improve in this area, here are several tips to develop leadership skills in college:

Participate in extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are an important part of the college experience, so don’t shy away from joining one or two of them. By joining a club or sport, for instance, you take ownership of a small part of your school. Begin by participating in general membership activities, and then work your way toward leadership opportunities. Such opportunities can help you learn and practice valuable skills like active listening and mediation. Music is a great extracurricular activity as well!

Volunteer in your community

Remember that you can build leadership skills even when you aren’t in a position of authority. A great way to do this is by joining an organization that volunteers in the community. Community service often allows you the opportunity to interact and network with individuals from diverse backgrounds, which is an important part of leadership. Use these service hours to enhance your resume, make connections, and further learn about leadership. 

Get an on-campus job

Work is the perfect time to focus on leadership. Look for opportunities to take on a natural leadership role, whether that is through direct management or going beyond your usual job duties to apply your skills toward improving the workplace. These are some popular campus jobs that can help you explore college majors. Through work, you also have the opportunity to make connections and gain professional mentors. Observe those leaders you admire most, especially in challenging moments. How do they respond? How can you do the same in the future? Here are some reasons why you should have a part time job in college.

Become a resident assistant

Resident assistants are essentially leaders in dorm life. They serve as examples to dorm residents (in other words, they model appropriate behavior), and they act as resources for students. In exchange for living in a residence hall, monitoring hall activity, and leading socialization opportunities, these students typically receive room and/or board for free. At certain schools, they may also earn a stipend.

Resident assistants generally develop the ability to mediate conflicts, foster positive communication, and mentor others. Serving as a resident assistant is also a great addition to your resume because it counts as employment experience and demonstrates responsibility.

Take a course

Perhaps the most obvious way to develop leadership skills in college is by taking a course. There are typically a variety of classes that help with leadership skills. For example, communications courses focus on developing certain leadership skills, while leadership-specific classes fine-tune other key abilities. Some schools also offer leadership courses that aren’t for credit, which can be a viable option for students who are carrying the maximum credits allowed in a single semester.

The above paragraphs describe just a few tips to develop leadership skills in college. Whenever possible, take full advantage of the numerous opportunities available at your college. Chances are there are a number of ways to become involved with your school and the surrounding community, and almost all of them will help you become a stronger, more effective leader.