Volunteering is an integral part of the college-bound high school student's experience and should not be missed. This is why:
For starters, volunteering is a requirement for some scholarships, including Bright Futures for Florida residents, and can also position students to receive special scholarships that recognize their efforts. In addition, community service projects look great on school applications and can provide excellent material for application essays.
Students can find volunteer opportunities through clubs, school, religious institutions, family, friends, or alone.However: Not all volunteer work is considered equal .
When it comes to volunteering and community service, it's quality not quantity – that speaks volumes to the admissions committee. You can work 100-200-1,000 hours a year, but they will still want to know WHY you volunteered, HOW you chose the job, HOW you handled your responsibilities, and WHAT you gained from the experience.
Hours are important for you to have a pattern of consistency (With the application, you must state hours per week and weeks per year for each activity you include.) And it is important to be consistent with your applications. Better to actually get involved in one or two volunteer activities than to spend a few hours here and there or devote your time to many small, fruitless projects and give up countless positions.
In addition, colleges are more impressed with your volunteering with a local project than with volunteer projects that require you to pay and fly somewhere. The ultimate goal is that you become part of something important, something important to you, and show that you have had an impact in the long term.
The person who gets the most attention from the colleges is not the one who claims, “I volunteered 200 hours in a year.” What will catch the attention of the college admissions reader is, “I volunteered at a downtown school where I started a therapeutic arts program for low-income children, raised money to support it, recruited and trained more volunteers, and the art supplies were donated, and the project received recognition on the local news. “In other words, the important thing is that you found your niche, stayed with the cause, and made an impression – big or small. This requires consistency and dedication, which is what colleges want to see.
Even better: Earn a leadership position with a title. Maybe you can appear on your local news or school newspaper – or even in a national publication (it's possible).You can also keep in mind that students get “bonus points” from colleges for volunteering consistent with their educational or career goals. If you are interested in attending medical school, volunteer in a hospital or with children with disabilities. If you want to become a lawyer, try working in a local government office or on a campaign. If you have good PR skills, consider running fundraisers for a nonprofit. If you enjoy cooking, work in a soup kitchen or find out how to deliver home-cooked meals to communities in need.