Roman J. Salamon

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Community Service and College Applications: A Guide for Students Looking to Bolster Their Chances of Acceptance

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With increased competition to get into the nation’s prestigious colleges and universities, more students need to understand how community service may impact their application. Having the right balance of community service and academic courses can help prospective students get into the college of their choice. As a result, students should understand how admission counselors are weighing community service, what types of community service can improve their chances and how to highlight such experiences in the application.

New Studies Indicate Increased Need for Community Service on College Applications.

Students have traditionally focused on academic accomplishments, ranging from SAT scores to actual grades, as criteria for college admission. However, that attitude is changing at a remarkable pace. According to a nationwide survey of admission counselors, reports U.S. News, up to 66 percent of college admission counselors actively look for history of community service on applications. Furthermore, colleges are changing preferences for community service opportunities.

What Type of Community Service Do Colleges Prefer?

Many students have chosen to pursue numerous volunteer opportunities, ranging from spending hours in community outreach programs to volunteering in soup kitchens. While each of these opportunities teaches invaluable life lessons, admissions counselors are looking for consistency. Students should volunteer for activities that they have a passion for. In other words, volunteering should be consistent and have a strong focus on one type of volunteering.

For example, students passionate about fighting hunger might consider launching or volunteering to work in a community garden, soup kitchens and food drives. The key is finding volunteer opportunities that are related, which ties into the final tip for students.

How Should Students Include Community Service on Their College Applications?

Any community service hours completed should be listed on the application in sentence form and in a succinct manner. In addition, listing hours is not enough. Students should connect their previous volunteer work to the “big picture.”

For example, how does working to reduce hunger locally help improve access to healthy meals globally?’

If students have extensive backgrounds in community service, it is best to tie all previous work into this global perspective too. This will highlight a student’s passion, experience and commitment in the college application, which are factors admissions counselors value.

Find Community Service Opportunities Through United Way of Rock River Valley Now.

Community service is a great way to give back to communities and encourage the next generation of leaders, improving networking and interpersonal skills along the way. Junior high and high school students should volunteer to increase their college applications’ visibility to admissions counselors. One of the best ways to start volunteering is by contacting local organizations to find out what opportunities are available in your community today. In fact, check out these community service opportunities through United Way of Rock River Valley today. 

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