Does Community Service Matter In The College Admissions Process?
A recent survey of college admissions officers found that community service can be a tipping factor when making college admissions decisions. In fact, 53% of those surveyed said that community service can almost be a “tie-breaker” between applicants who are equally qualified. So how is community service viewed in the context of a student’s application, and what can students now to pursue meaningful community service opportunities?
As you may know, colleges care about what students are doing outside of the classroom just as much as what they accomplish inside. While grades are still the most important metric when evaluating college applications, high grades are not enough to gain admission. Colleges want to see students engaging in activities outside of the classroom and making an impact in their local community. One way to do that is through community service.
The Value of Community Service
Community service isn’t something students should do just to “look good” when applying to college. Community service can be extremely rewarding and can go a long way toward helping students not only make an impact in their community, but also learn more about what they’re passionate about.
Community service provides students with the opportunity to show compassion, leadership, creativity, and depth. Colleges don’t just want students who will do well in class – they want students who will also engage outside of the classroom and make a positive impact on campus. But that’s not all. That same survey found that admissions officers value community service because it shows that students likely “share the school’s values” and they’ll “contribute to the school’s mission.” So in a way, community service can help demonstrate how a student is a good-fit for certain institutions. This is important for admissions officers when making decisions, as they look for fit – both on behalf of the student and the school.
Quality vs. Quantity
So if community service can give you a boost in the college admissions process you should immediately load up on volunteer activities, right? Not quite. Colleges can tell when students are padding their activity lists in order to impress admissions officers and it doesn’t go over well. Instead, seek out community service activities that you’d really enjoy and that align with your interests. Quality – a few activities that you’re really invested in over multiple years – is much more important than quantity – participating in a bunch of community service initiatives superficially over short periods of time.
Community Service and College Admissions Resources
There are a number of ways to get involved in community service while still exploring your interests. Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about community service in the college admissions process and how to find community service activities that match your interests.
- Finding Community Service Opportunities that Match Your Interests
- Community Service Tips for Freshmen and Sophomores: How to Get Involved
- Community Service During the Holidays
- Making an Impact Inside and Outside of the Classroom
Quality extracurricular activities, including community service initiatives, can provide additional context to your application, show more of who you are as a student and citizen, and help to demonstrate why you’re a good fit for the schools to which you are applying. If you need help identifying new activities – or refining your current commitments – contact us today for more information on our college counseling services.