10 Reasons Why Every High Schooler Should Launch a Startup

Do you often feel overwhelmed by choosing a college or even a path of study? Much of what you do in high school will shape your career interests and help you determine your major. Too many students will discover too late, however, that their chosen college major may not be for them.A lot of people often confuse the difference between a weakness and a strength. A weakness is something that you may be really good at, but it drains you and the task feels like a burden to complete. A strength, on the other hand, is something that you may also be good at, but the process energizes you and time flies while you're doing it. Too often, students pursue their weaknesses in college without ever exploring their strengths.High school is the perfect opportunity to experiment with many different skills and find which ones invigorate or drain you. While some high school clubs might give you this chance, none of them can compare to launching a startup. Here are 10 reasons why every high schooler should launch a startup

1. Entrepreneurship teaches a new way of thinking
One of the first things you learn as an entrepreneur is that your customer is everything. If you don’t have a customer, you don’t have a product. To ensure that your idea is valid, entrepreneurs look at problems in ways that you may not be used to. Trying to find a real problem for a real customer requires empathy, a great skill to have in many aspects of your life. A startup is a perfect way to hone this skill.

2. Launching a business means being creative
In order to find a solution that does not already exist, or make one better, you’ll have to think out of the box. Speaking with potential customers will give you a sense of the problems that they have, but you have to be creative to turn those conversations into a solution. Entrepreneurship will give you the opportunity to become more creative and build this strength!

3. Know how to problem-solve
Almost every career path has some element of problem-solving. This skill is important whether you want to be an engineer, actor, physicist, lawyer, doctor, or pretty much anything else. In fact, many of these professions will ultimately start their own company within their chosen careers. While starting your own law practice or building your personal brand as an actor may not at first seem to be entrepreneurial, they very much are. Entrepreneurship will provide you with the tools to problem-solve no matter what problem you find yourself facing.

4. Invest in yourself
Launching a startup is always a risk. Most startups do not succeed and there is a chance you build something that does not end up making any money. No matter what the outcome, you will notice the impact you’ve made on yourself simply by going through the entrepreneurial process. You will gain leadership, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and so many other skills. You may also notice your confidence going up!

5. Flexible hours during a busy high school schedule
Launching a business on the side at any stage in life will be challenging, but luckily when you are your own boss, you can set your own schedule. Regardless of how busy you may already be because of classes and extracurriculars, you can almost always find time to pursue a startup if you are willing to hustle and make it happen.

6. Overcome failure with grace
I can almost guarantee you will encounter failure at some point throughout the entrepreneurial process. Knowing how to handle failure with grace is an amazing life skill to have. When you inevitably encounter failure in a college or professional setting, if you can quickly learn from that failure and get back up on your feet, you will stand out among your peers.

7. Gain life advice from a mentor
It is almost impossible to launch a startup without a mentor. While they are vital to the growth of your startup, they can also give you excellent insights into yourself. Mentors can accelerate your personal development and help you better understand what you want to do with your life in college and beyond.

8. Build a personal brand
Starting a business will give you a level of credibility that is unmatched by almost any other high school experience. It will add to your personal story and make your resume stand out. Entrepreneurship is what helped Steve Jobs and Elon Musk build their personal brands. As a founder, you can make your name known.

9. Have a great story to tell
Regardless of if your startup fails or succeeds, you will have an amazing story to tell during future interview questions such as “tell me about a time you overcame failure” or “what is your proudest accomplishment.” Your entrepreneurship story will always be a great go-to whether you are applying to get into an exclusive business club on campus or trying to get on a project team.

10. Change the world
More and more around the world, entrepreneurs are using their powers for good. If you want to make a meaningful, sustainable, and scalable impact on a social cause or issue you care about entrepreneurship may be perfect for you. As a social entrepreneur, you can make a profit while making an impact. Even if you are just wanting to build a traditional enterprise, your idea could honestly change the world- just think about the iPhone, for example! You can do anything as an entrepreneur!

The Best Extracurricular Activity For Your College App

In one of the most shocking moves this year, a wave of colleges announced that they would de-emphasize the role of standardized test scores in their admission process. Some, like Caltech, went as far as to not require any SAT or ACT scores for the next two years, officially becoming “test-blind”. So, how do you know what makes a competitive applicant anymore?!

Extracurricular Activities Are Everything
Extracurricular activities are now more important than ever! The way you choose to spend your time outside of high school will help admission officers see your strengths and passions. But do colleges prefer students with traditional activities like sports and debate, or are you better off if you have something unconventional on your activity list? What we do know for sure is that you should not be doing something just because you want to put it on your application. Admission officers at top Ivy League schools are pros at seeing through “fluff”, so joining 5 different clubs in your junior and senior year won’t fool anyone!

Don’t Be A Cookie Cutter Student
We talked to hundreds of Cornell University students about what they thought was the strongest part of their application and they all agreed. It wasn’t their high test scores, or their near-perfect GPAs. It was their unique extracurriculars! The three things we KNOW colleges always look for when looking at students’ activities are: Passion, Leadership and Impact. So, how many activities or clubs at your school are you actually passionate about? There’s only so many leadership positions available anyway! And what if you feel like you cannot truly make an impact on your local community? We have the solution, that ticks all the boxes:

Start Your Own business For A Social Cause
Now, it’s natural to think: “I’m only 16, how can I start my own business?” “Isn’t a business like a full-time job? I’m just a high school student, I don’t have time for this!” “I don’t have any capital? I wouldn’t even know where to start!”We know this may sound intimidating but hear us out! Starting a business for a social cause that you actually care about shows immense passion and incredible initiative. You’re not just stepping into a leadership position that others before you have done. And your impact does not need to be limited to only your local community anymore! You can have a nation-wide, or even global impact, depending on the social cause you find most important.

Confused About Where To Start?
Think about your passions first! Maybe it’s video games. All that time you spent on Twitch can finally come in handy. Studies have shown that video games can increase creativity in kids and, if played in moderation, can be a great way to relax after a stressful day. Moreover, multiplayer games like Fortnite and Call of Duty are a great way to stay in contact and socialize with your friends, even if you’re in quarantine! So, it's safe to say that everyone, no matter their age, could benefit from having access to playing video games. Now, think about problems and hurdles that others might face within the gaming community. Come up with a couple solutions for one the problems. Don’t be afraid to think big, not just at a local level! And there you have it! You have a unique business idea, that solves a real problem, which will show any college committee what you are passionate about and that you are not afraid to take initiative!

Take Your Application To The Next Level
If you agree that starting your own business for a social cause will help differentiate you from all the “well-rounded” high school students around you, take the next step and sign up for an entrepreneurship program that will guide you through every step of the way.Supported by Entrepreneurship at Cornell, Life Changing School is a virtual high school program founded and run by Cornell University members and entrepreneurs. In LCS you will learn everything you need to know to build a sustainable startup focussed on social impact. You could even begin making money by the end of the program. So apply today and start working on your own startup immediately!

Listen to the Founding Story on the Project Illumination Podcast

Ep. 13 - Jenna Winocur - Starting My Own School Project Illumination Podcast Episode
Launch a Startup 
Become an Entrepreneur
Change your life

LCS is a virtual three-week entrepreneurship program and incubator for high school students, no prior experience required. Run by Cornell University members with years of entrepreneurship experience.