3.2.16 Volunteering to Help Get You into College - Are You Doing It Wrong

You’ve heard that volunteering is key to getting into college. But did you know that not all community service was created equal? College admissions officers may gloss over some types of service listed on your application, but some may stand out and help position you as a more attractive candidate.

A team of U.S. educators has endorsed a proposal backed by Harvard University that proposes reforming the college admissions process so that it relies less on tests like the SAT and ACT and more on how students have demonstrated their passion for learning and meaningful service projects.

In the nearly three decades that we’ve been coordinating youth service projects, we have seen that the most meaningful service projects have a few traits in common:

  • Long-term: Volunteering a couple hours every week for the whole school year can often be much more transformative than a single weekend or week filled with service. Ongoing service allows you to develop relationships with the people you’re serving and those you’re serving with.
  • Youth leadership opportunities: Who’s leading the project? Do adults run the whole show, or do they allow opportunities for youth to step up to coordinate different parts and help make decisions? Service projects need opportunities for youth to express themselves and voice their opinions while stepping up as leaders.
  • Service-learning: Volunteering isn’t much use for you if you leave questioning whether you had any real impact at all. The best service projects should be meaningful, impactful and teach you something new about your community. Service-learning is a way that we make sure that volunteers always leave our projects knowing how their service made a difference.

Have your volunteer opportunities passed the test? If not, find a YVC program near you to help building up the real, long-term volunteer experience that will make you a top candidate for your top college choice.

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