One thing that should definitely become a part of the college-bound high school student’s experience: community service.
Students can find volunteer opportunities through clubs, school, religious institutions, family, friends, or on their own.
There are many reasons to do volunteer work.
1. It’s a requirement for certain scholarships. Engaging in community service projects may also help you earn high school credit and graduation recognition.
2. Colleges have come to expect it.
3. Volunteer work is great for college essays
However: Not all volunteer work is considered equal.
You can work 100-200-1300 hours a year. However, the quantity of volunteering hours is only one important factor to colleges. They also want to know WHY you volunteered, HOW you chose the assignment, and HOW you handled your responsibilities.
Hours are important for you to show a pattern of consistency. (On the application you must write hours per week/ weeks per year) And it is important to be consistent. It’s better to be really involved in one or two volunteer activities than just do a few hours here and there or spend your time on lots of little meaningless projects and quit numerous positions.
The ultimate goal is for you to become part of something important and show that you made an impact.
The person who will get the most attention from the colleges is not the one that claims, “I volunteered 400 hours in one year.” What will get the college admissions officer’s attention is, “I volunteered at a inner city school where I started a therapeutic art program for low-income children, raised funds to support it, recruited and trained more volunteers, got the art supplies donated, and gained the project community recognition in the local paper.”
In other words, what is most critical is that you found a passion, stuck with it, and made an impact. This requires consistency and commitment.
Best of the best is if you earn a position of leadership with a title. Perhaps you can appear in your local or school paper- or, even a national publication (it has been done).
You get bonus points from colleges for choosing a volunteer opportunity that is consistent with your educational or career goals. If you’re interested in going to medical school, volunteer in a hospital or with children with disabilities. If you want to be a lawyer, try working on an environmental campaign. If you have good PR skills, consider organizing fundraisers for good causes. If you like to cook, work at a soup kitchen. Find something you enjoy doing and you’ll have no trouble earning the hours.
Of course, the worst, worst is doing no volunteer work at all.