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Volunteering is Important to College Admissions Officers

I recently received a phone call from an anxious Mom.  “My child has completed all of her college applications.  Now I’m freaking out because we haven’t heard anything yet and my friend just told me that my daughter needed to volunteer someplace in order to get in.  Is that true?!”

I felt for this mom.  The waiting time between submitting your college application and receiving those decision letters can be L-O-N-G and nerve-racking.  This Mom is now second-guessing her child’s application because, after talking to her, I learned that unfortunately, her daughter didn’t include any volunteer experiences in her application.

Volunteering does matter in the college admissions’ process today.  The competition for admission to most four-year colleges is fierce and getting more difficult each year.  Good grades, test scores and extra-curricular activities are simply not enough to make your student stand out.  Colleges are now looking for well-rounded students who give back to their community.  Many college admission officers  realize that volunteerism is a good indicator of the types of students they’d like in their student body.

Here’s why giving back to the community is important on a college application:

Experience:  Volunteering allows you to showcase another side of yourself, apart from the academics, honors, and extra-curriculars.  It also provides you with an opportunity to speak passionately about a cause or organization that you believe in and have dedicated some of your time toward.

Don’t forget to include this experience on your LinkedIn profile and online resume, which many future employers will view to learn more about you.

Leadership: College admission officers love to see students take on a leadership role, and volunteering is a great way to gain that experience.

Instead of only completing the mandatory number of service hours required for graduation, take some time to research a cause that inspires you.  If you already have a career goal in mind, pick an experience that aligns with those goals.For example, if you want to be an architect or engineer, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity; if you want to be a veterinarian, work at the local animal shelter.

The more inspired you are, the more likely you are to take a leadership role and stay involved.  These experiences may take you out of your comfort zone, but the knowledge, skills and experience you gain are invaluable – not only to your college goals – but also in your life.  And, you are giving back to your community.  It’s truly a win-win!

scholarshipScholarships: Various organizations offer scholarships for volunteer work.  Check out Do Something (https:, which offers two types of scholarships, one of which awards $10,000 to four lucky students.

Networking – You will meet and work with many different types of people who can help you develop the skills needed for your career goals. You may even find a mentor who will write that letter of recommendation that gets you into your first-choice school.

So, if you are a high school freshman, sophomore or junior, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and volunteer!  Not only will you be doing something good for others, you will also be helping yourself on your path towards college and investing in your future career.

Check with your local church, school counselor or United Way for a list of volunteer opportunities in your area.