Too Much "What," Not Enough "Why": What Colleges REALLY Think About Community Service
In my most recent Paved With Verbs blog post, I tackled a question a lot of high school students wonder about community service:
"How do volunteer work and service-related clubs look on applications? Do they, too, strike admissions officers as a sign of a complacent student whose main goal is to look good? What kind of specialized service opportunities TRULY give kids an edge in college and beyond?"
While I encourage you to take the time to read the entire post, the Tl;Dr is that community service can backfire.
Schools aren't looking for hoop jumpers and box checkers -- they're looking for future leaders who want to get involved in their community and change the world.
If your application is full of Whats and lacking in Whys, it indicates that you're more interested in getting into college that pursuing something truly meaningful to you and your goals.
But! If your community service is connected to your goals and interests, it can say something very powerful about you -- about your willingness to find and create opportunities for yourself. To quote the post:
"For example. If you're studying Chinese, volunteer as a Chinese language tutor. If you're studying Chinese and you want to be pre-med, volunteer for the Asian Health Foundation.
And never, ever say that volunteering changed your life... unless it actually did.
Don't say your summer spent building schools in El Salvador changed your life if you went back to school and kept doing the same things you were already doing. If it truly changed your life -- show that it changed your life.
Take a Spanish for Medical Professionals course online or at a community college. Support labor or immigration issues. Join a grassroots effort to legalize drugs in your state, if you think that will make a difference to the orphans you worked with! (Legalizing drugs could literally be the best thing you could possibly do for them. Read more >)"
If your volunteer service is all about What, and doesn't address Why, you might not be making the best use of your time. If you don't truly find joy and purpose in it... maybe you should focus on other aspects of your life.
Ask yourself, What problems do I want to solve? Why? How?
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Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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