Get Involved: 6 Tips for Choosing Meaningful Community Service Activities
Choose Volunteer Opportunities That Are Meaningful to You
Not only does community service provide you with the opportunity to give back, it may boost your admissions odds. According to a 2018 study by IESD for x2VOL, 58% of admissions officers agree that community service has a positive impact on a prospective student’s application.
While all forms of volunteer work are meaningful, students should think carefully and select a service that relates to their interests in order to gain the most from their experience. If you’re interested in getting involved, keep reading for some tips to help you choose the best community service opportunities for your goals.
Reflect on Your Passions
When it comes to college applications, the best community service options are often activities that matter to you and that you could easily see yourself writing about. Before looking into volunteer positions, take a moment to reflect on what topics and causes are most interesting to you. Think about what school classes and projects you have enjoyed and any extracurricular activities that you look forward to. Write down a list of 3-5 key passions and keep these choices in mind throughout your search process.
Understand the Opportunity
Before committing to a volunteer position, make sure you understand exactly what is involved. Organizations may have specific time requirements, prioritize certain skill sets, or meet on designated dates. Make sure you meet all of the requirements and that you can realistically make time for this volunteer opportunity without letting academics or other extracurricular activities fall by the wayside. If possible, attend an information session or meet with a volunteer leader to learn more about the community service option you are considering.
Unlike classes, most volunteers don’t receive grades or progress reports. However, this isn’t an excuse to slack off or do half-hearted work. Volunteering is an opportunity to make an impact and give back to others, so strive to approach each task with a willingness to learn. Community service may take you a bit outside of your comfort zone – instead of avoiding this, embrace it as an opportunity to grow.
Look for Learning Opportunities
Community service can give students the chance to gain valuable, real-life experience. If there are competencies that relate to your volunteer work that you are eager to learn about, don’t be afraid to speak up. For example, if you are volunteering at a local museum and are desperate to learn Photoshop, see if you can shadow someone working on graphic design. Seeking out learning experiences can help make your community service commitment feel even more meaningful.
Keep an Open Mind
It is important to approach volunteer work with an open mind, especially because there is a good chance you will encounter work and scenarios that are very different from your everyday life. View these experiences as opportunities to learn something new and expand your horizons. Maintaining this mentality will help you remain open to new learning experiences.
Community service gives students the opportunity to meet peers outside of their classmates and connect with organization leaders. Keep in touch with these connections even after you finish your volunteer work. If you really connected with your community service supervisor, you may want to consider reaching out to them to write a letter of recommendation for your college applications or for future internship opportunities.
No matter what kind of community service work you choose, volunteering can be meaningful and worthwhile for students. If you are looking for community service options and don’t know where to start, reaching out to your high school guidance counselor or an independent counselor can be a good starting point. Our team of college admissions counselors can help students identify their passions and pinpoint relevant extracurricular activities and community service options!