These days, it seems like college applications read more like resumes. With AP and IB courses, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs, many students find it overwhelming trying to figure out what will make the best addition to an application.
While you always want to pursue your passions and interests, it can be easy to overlook the value of community service. Not only do these service projects help teach responsibility, organization, and many of the same skills as part-time jobs, but attaching yourself to a charitable organization provides networking opportunities and can help give schools a more complete picture of you as an individual. In today’s College 101, we break down the reasons why community service is important for college applicants.
Finding the right volunteer opportunity might appear daunting, especially if you’ve never volunteered before. Fortunately, there are prospective positions all around you! The first source you enlist should be your guidance counselor. Knowing your strengths and interests, your guidance counselor can provide recommendations for volunteer organizations that might be partnered with your school and offer credit, or programs that other students have found rewarding. From there, think about the community organizations in your town or city; religious institutions, foundations that host 5k’s and other athletic events, and local youth leagues are all great options, among many, and can be found in most towns and cities.
It’s Good for You!
Community service is good for those who volunteer – not just the community! Students who volunteer have been found to be happier than their peers and tend to be more active later in life. (Source.) Participating in community service also develops problem-solving skills, one of the most highly sought skills on a resume. Not only that, but the tasks performed while volunteering often directly translate to the skills and experiences many employers are looking for in college students. You’ll give your brain a boost while preparing yourself for the job market.
It Pays Off
Many community service organizations have scholarship opportunities for their volunteers. These may be in the form of essay contests, applications, or length-of-service requirements. If you’re volunteering for a national or international organization, talk to your director to find out if any scholarships are available to you. Additionally, some schools may offer grants or scholarships for students who have volunteered in the past and plan to continue through college.
You’ll be Part of a Community
In addition to providing networking opportunities for potential employers and possible letters of recommendation to add to an application, students who volunteer on even a somewhat regular basis have reported feeling personal satisfaction for being part of their organization, and for giving back to their community. Ultimately, what an admissions officer decides when reviewing your applications is not whether or not you are smart enough for the school (though academics play a significant part); the decision is whether or not you would be a good addition to their campus community. By volunteering, you’re demonstrating your commitment and desire to give back, all while showing colleges that you are proactive and looking to become involved on campus.
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