So many students do so much in school - how can I stand out?
I think that one of the keys to standing out as an applicant to colleges is doing something that YOU created. What do I mean by that? A lot of high school students look to become an officer in every possible club that their school offers, for the nominal “resume value”. However, the key is to do something novel – start a club, a business, an app, a fundraiser, just something that reflects your passions and is outside the given structures of the clubs that your high school already offers. An endeavor like that should give you plenty to talk about in college interviews, essays, and just life in general!
Expanding on the above reply, it is definitely very impressive to show schools that you have the initiative to start something and take action. But I would also say to find something that resonates with you and shows admission officers what you truly care about. For example, a third-generation Vietnamese migrant could start various clubs and charities that may be very successful and impressive. However, it would be even more amazing if such initiatives worked to help out orphanages or charities in Vietnam. You will also find that not only will these activities stand out, but they will also be easier to coordinate and lead because you really care about them!
Another thing that would really impress universities would be to look to change something about your community/school. For example, my school had many charities that were small scale and relied more on quantity than quality. There was also a lack of engagement with other schools. So I took the initiative to coordinate inter-school fundraisers that would build relations between year levels and schools through social events.