Is Community Service Important in College Admissions?

community service

community service

Community service is an integral part of the college-bound high school student’s experience, and it should not be missed. Here’s why:


For starters, volunteering is a requirement for some scholarships, including Bright Futures for Florida residents, and can also position students to receive special scholarships recognizing their efforts. In addition, community service projects look great on college applications and can provide excellent material for application essays.


Students can find volunteer opportunities through clubs, school, religious institutions, family, friends, or on their own.
However: Not all volunteer work is considered equal.


When it comes to volunteering and community service, it is quality—not quantity­—that speaks volumes to the admissions committee. You can work 100-200-1,000 hours a year, but they will still want to know WHY you volunteered, HOW you chose the assignment, HOW you handled your responsibilities, and WHAT you gained from the experience.


Hours are important for you to demonstrate a pattern of consistency. (On the application you must include hours per week and weeks per year for each activity you include.) And it is important to be consistent on your applications. It is better to be really involved in one or two volunteer activities than to do a few hours here and there or spend your time on lots of little, fruitless projects and quit numerous positions.


In addition, colleges are more impressed by your volunteering with a local project than with volunteer projects that you have to pay for and fly somewhere to do. The ultimate goal is for you to become part of something important, something meaningful to you, and show that you made an impact over the long term.


The person who will get the most attention from the colleges is not the one who claims, “I volunteered 200 hours in one year.” What will get the college admissions reader’s attention is, “I volunteered at an 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 recognition for the project on the local news.”


In other words, what is most critical is that you found your niche, stuck with the cause, and made an impact–big or small. This requires consistency and commitment, which is what colleges want to see.


Even better: Earn a position of leadership with a title. Perhaps you can appear on your local news or school paper—or even a national publication (it’s possible).


You may also keep in mind that students get “bonus points” from colleges for volunteer work that is consistent with their 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 in a local government office or on a campaign. If you have good public relations skills, consider organizing fundraisers for a non-profit. If you like to cook, work at a soup kitchen or find out how to deliver homemade meals to communities in need.


Find a project or two you enjoy, and you’ll have no trouble earning the hours. One of the strengths of working with an advisor from International College Counselors, is our ability to help students identify and strengthen their community service involvement. Contact us today at 1-954-414-9986 or [email protected] to learn more about how we can help your student with the vital community service part of the college admissions process.


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Apply for the ICC Scholarship
All students in grades 9-11 are encouraged to apply for the ICC scholarship. Write an essay that answers the question: If you could create one class in high school that reflects your academic values, interests, and/or outlook on education, what would it be and why?Additional contest rules and submission information can be found here. The scholarship deadline is April 15, 2021.


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