Many students are looking at ways that make them ‘stand out’ above other students who are also applying to the same college. Community service is one way to separate yourself from these other applicants. But it’s not just any community service that will get you noticed. Many high schools now require that you complete some community service hours in order to graduate, so you could need to go above and beyond the norm.
Every high school student will need to take entrance exams, like the SAT or ACT, every high school student will want to have that top GPA, and every high school student will have those letters of recommendation that are definitely important. But, if you are a valuable member of your community, it may be what sets you apart from other students.
Do Something, a nonprofit organization that encourages high school students to get involved in community service, surveyed college admissions officers to find out what they value in their applicants, and this is what they found:
1. Passion and Consistency are Important.
When the admissions officers were asked to designate which activity would be valued, spending four years helping at a community shelter or spending a month in a third-world impoverished nation, the officers cited the four-year local commitment more important. They want to see your long term dedication and how you grow as an individual over that time period.
2. Time Spent on an Activity is More Important Than the Amount of Money Raised.
Two-thirds of the admissions officers said they placed more value on spending a summer working at a homeless shelter over raising a large amount of money. They would much rather see you “in the mix” and getting experience instead of simply getting donations.
3. Belonging to Organizations Doesn’t Count So Much.
Being involved in certain organizations is great and it still looks good on your college application, but more than three-quarters of the admissions officers noted that membership in an organization means little compared to becoming actively involved in service for that organization.
4. How did Your Community Service Change You?
Ask yourself how being involved with an organization changed your perspective of the world and how you changed that specific organization due to your involvement. Also, ask yourself what insight and learning did you acquire as a result of the community service.
5. Tell Your Story Well.
Make sure you explain in detail the importance of your community service. The admissions officers said that the three words they most like to see are “commitment,” “passionate,” and “dedication.”
So keep these tips in mind when you are deciding what types of community service you are going to get involved in. If you have any questions about this or anything else pertaining to college, please contact our office.