On the surface, our task as an Enrollment Team at Gap Year seems simple enough: recruit students. During the first years of Impact 360, we realized very quickly that we had quite a challenge on our hands. With only 40 spots available, how do we make the difficult decision of selecting one student with a great resume over another? How do we select leaders among leaders?

If you are reading this post as a high school student or parent interested in Impact 360, it’s your lucky day. We are working on a series of posts that give insight into the different qualities we measure in the Gap Year selection process.

The first category of qualities that are very important to us is chemistry or overall impression. Here are a few insights into what makes a student stand out among his or her peers in this category:

Takes the initiative.

It is an encouraging and refreshing sign when students take initiative, are responsive, and are proactive in the application process. Tim Elmore and others talk often about how parents of the rising generation have assumed the role of personal agents for their children. In many cases, this is well-intentioned. Parents want their children to succeed; in many cases the students are already overloaded with schoolwork and a stressful schedule.

While these things may be true and the support of parents in the college search process is crucial, there are many valuable life lessons for students to learn in the college application process. Students need to know how to manage their time, relate to professionals, and simply take care of business by the time they enter adulthood (18 years old). When a student takes the initiative, it shows us they are capable and interested; it’s also a good indicator that they can handle the demands of Impact 360.

Asks questions.

A significant amount of our time at Impact 360 is spent hosting and getting to know people. We regularly ask questions and facilitate conversation between students and their families, and our staff, students, and alumni. When a student asks questions and actively participates in these conversations, they stand out. . When a student recognizes adults as people and takes an interest in their lives and experience, it is a sure sign of maturity. This interest in the lives of others shows a teachable attitude..

A way to cultivate a teachable attitude is to encourage your student to interact with different generations during the high school years. Encourage him or her to spend time with youth leaders. Have conversations about the day and what’s going on in life during family dinners. Facilitate your student meeting regularly with a mentor to study the Bible or just learn about an aspect of life. These interactions will give them experience in talking with people other than their peers.

Demonstrates Positive Body Language.

We love technology. It can make life easy, productive, and interesting. It reveals new skills and strengths we didn’t realize we had before it existed. We do, however, need to be proactive in helping our students develop some key social skills as they become more engaged in gaming, social media, and media in general. It has been proven we decrease in ability to read, appropriately respond, and relate to people if we aren’t intentional about interacting with others face-to–face.

The body language we desire to see in interactions with students may seem basic. Do they maintain eye contact when we are talking? Do they shake our hands? Are they able to maintain interest in a conversation? Is there confidence in their posture and how they carry themselves? Are they engaged in the classroom conversation? The suggestions shared above about interacting with different generations can also help to cultivate these skills. If a student spends regular time interacting with peers and groups without the engagement of technology, appropriate body language will be more likely to develop.

Says thank you.

Do you remember the story of Jesus and the ten lepers in Luke 17: 11–19? There are different layers of insights in this passage; but the fact that only one of the healed lepers came back to thank Jesus is clearly significant enough to note in Scripture. Our lives as believers stand out when they are marked by thankfulness. Our prayers are to be presented with thanksgiving. We are to give with a grateful heart.

When applicants take time to say “thank you,” it makes an impression. It shows us that they notice and appreciate the time our team puts forth to host them, the resources spent for each event we host, and the bigger–picture, kingdom work happening at Impact 360. A thankful heart is an indicator of a humble attitude. If you are taking the time to read this far into the post, we want to let you in on a little secret. We actually give bonus points in the scoring process to students who say “thank you.”

The bottom line is this: we only have 40 spots available; our desire is to identify students who will be a positive addition to the student body. The four characteristics listed in this post help us form an overall impression and select those students who will interact well with others and have the awareness to positively influence those around them.