Going the Extra Mile: Volunteering and the College Application

Independent Educational Consultant SCSo you’ve got good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and know exactly what you want to major in—but you’re still worried about getting into the college of your dreams. You need something that is going to set you apart from the other applicants and make you stand out to a college admissions board. That one thing might just be spending your breaks and summer vacation volunteering.

Volunteer experience looks good on an application for a few reasons. One, it shows that you’re socially conscious. You’re committed to the idea that you can make the world a better place, and you’re willing to put in the time and effort. Two, the responsibility that comes with any volunteering position is no laughing matter. Three, you will undoubtedly learn something from your experience.

You’ve got the growth, the social consciousness, the time, and the effort ready to go—but what about the actual volunteering? In order to find the best volunteering experience for you, ask yourself a few questions…

1. What will my college want to see?
2. What would I actually enjoy doing?

After you answer these for yourself, you can accurately assess what you want to do. Is your dream school religiously affiliated? Maybe consider volunteering at your local Sunday school or church mission. Do you love working with children? Think about dedicating your time at an elementary school babysitting during PTA meetings. Another, bigger question to ask is if you want to stay in your community. Not many high school students pursue volunteer opportunities abroad or in other states, and while it might look glamorous, its not always an option for students under the age of 18. There are many opportunities to volunteer right in your hometown, all you have to do is be willing to seek them out.

Check with churches, schools, nonprofit organizations, libraries, sports teams, local businesses, your friends, your family members to see if they know of any local opportunities. Always ask for a detailed letter of recommendation after completing your service. Include this with your college application, and you will be sure to stand out from the rest. This will be a chance to help someone in need, and you’ll establish friendships and connections with others that will last for years to come.