Extracurricular Activities: Does Babysitting My Little Sister Count?

I’m shocked at the number of students who ask me this question. Well, not always “my little sister” or even a sibling, but the actual job of babysitting seems to have lost its value in the hierarchy of the teen job market. Students almost shamefully say, “I haven’t had a real job yet. I’ve only babysat.”

Why does this erstwhile well-respected afterschool, evening and school-break, money-making venture still rule as a wonderful “activity” listing in the Common App and other proprietary application portals? Here’re few reasons:


Caretaking young children, an elderly relative or neighbor reveals not only altruism but responsibility. When I mention that students are taking another person’s safety and, not to get too dramatic, life into their hands when babysitting, they seem nonplussed. They explain that taking a CPR class gives them confidence as does asking their own parents to be on high alert in case they need additional support and guidance. I then say, “Just thinking all this through before accepting a babysitting job tells me you’re ready for college!”


One student told me that she learned how to cook while looking after twins. The parent asked if she knew how to make dinner and instead of saying no, she said, “I’ll learn.” This can-do attitude made the parent smile, she said. Which of course elicited a smile from the student while telling me the story. The job required creativity, she stressed. First, she’d imagine meals she wanted to make and then she’d spend time beforehand shopping, measuring, whisking, chopping and simmering. Soon, her own home became a test-kitchen of her inventions. When she went off to college and could no longer caretake the children, she created an illustrated recipe book of her “dish drawings’ as a good-bye gift for the family.


Being around young children can elicit compassion, an emotion that many teens have a hard time showing themselves let alone others. The pandemic years as well as time spent engaging with social media have impacted teens’ ability to monitor and administer self-care. Unfortunately, the numbers keep rising: in 2023, 25% of all teens received a mental health diagnosis, one that thankfully is no longer as stigmatized and is therefore garnering treatment. One student who was struggling with interpersonal connection asked if “hanging out” and “having fun” with his little sister while his parents had Date Night was considered a job. If so, could it be an activity he could list on his Common Application? My answer: Of course. What better way to strengthen human bonds while learning caretaking skills, both of others and oneself.

Next time a student is offered the opportunity to babysit, I say, jump at the chance!

For more information about College Counseling/Essay Coaching, please drop me a line at Elizabeth@eecollegecoach.com or give me a holler at 917-863-2424. Also, for “news you can use,” please check out my blog, videos, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.