The Value of Community Service in Your College Application

Monday, October 1, 2012

community serviceGiving Back is Just as Important as Getting In

When discussing the different elements of a college application, we often bring up the significance of the “brag sheet.” At IvyWise, we can’t stress enough how important a complete and comprehensive brag sheet is to the admissions process. Your brag sheet lists all of your extracurriculars, employment, summer experiences, honors, awards, interests, hobbies, and, very notably, community service.

The value of community service doesn’t stop with your college application. Many schools, like the ones in Dr. Kat’s list of Colleges with a Big Heart, are dedicated to giving back to their communities with programs and opportunities that not only help others, but also build strong leaders and community members within the student body. 

So what is it about community service that makes your application stand out? Extracurriculars show admissions officers what kind of person you are and what you make time for. Admissions officers are looking for quality community service consistently over a long period of time. 

Here are some other tips on how to best showcase your community service projects and how you can use your extracurricular volunteer work to boost your application: 

  • Quality over quantity: Most schools are looking for a commitment to a few activities over time, not a number of activities that you did maybe once or twice. Consistency and dedication to one or two organizations shows your interest and commitment to a certain cause. Start our own charity, volunteer organization, community service club, or set aside time every other weekend to volunteer at the local animal shelter or food kitchen.

  • Show depth and leadership: If the only community service on your resume is a few hours at the local soup kitchen the weekend before your applications are due, an admissions officer is not going to be impressed. Schools want students who show dedication to a project and follow through until the end. Take a position of leadership within your volunteer organizations. Serving as the president or officer in your school’s community service club shows that you care enough to want to play a significant role in the organization and that your peers trust you enough to elect you to such a position.

  • Keep it simple, but don’t shortchange yourself: An excessively long brag sheet won’t necessarily hurt an applicant, but an admissions reader might not get the chance to read it all. It’s important to strike a balance between showing a comprehensive profile of your accomplishments that an admissions officer and quickly read through without leaving out anything important. Don’t be afraid to brag on the brag sheet! 

Admissions officers aren’t just looking at the numbers when considering candidates. Test scores and grades are crucial, but so is an applicant who shows depth and leadership. So when planning your time for clubs and extracurriculars, remember it’s just as important to have a big heart as it is to have an outstanding application.

If you’re having trouble deciding what should stay on your resume and what can be cut, our team of expert admissions counselors can help you put together the perfect brag sheet for your application.

Related Topics

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