Whitefield Academy Blog
Volunteering and Activities on College Applications
This post originally appeared on Whitefield Academy’s blog on August 8th, 2018. For Whitefield parents who have specific college application questions, please contact BJ Williams.
Volunteering and extracurricular activities are great ways to not only improve a college application resume and help the community, but they will will tell you a lot about who you are and what you might want to pursue.
Are you thinking of becoming a teacher? Volunteer to teach Sunday school or help at a summer camp. Would you like to be a doctor? There are abundant opportunities to volunteer with hospitals. These targeted volunteer opportunities will certainly boost your resume, but they will also help you see if your desired career path is truly a good fit.
Starting Wide and Finishing Narrow
Freshmen and sophomores should cast their net wide and focus on a wide variety of volunteer and community service. Juniors and seniors should focus instead on consistent, long-term involvement. Colleges are looking for well-rounded students who have learned a lot about themselves through their chosen activities and who they believe will perform well in their coursework. Contrary to popular belief, it is often not about how much you have done or accomplished that makes a difference; admissions officers have been known to discard long resumes. It is instead about the quality and length of the work you have done and how much it shows your true self.
The Total Package
Ideally, you want to have the total package: strong GPA, high test scores, consistent school leadership, and volunteer service. However, if your grades or test scores are weak, strong and consistent school leadership and volunteer service could save your application from the deny pile. Have you discovered a need in your community? Start your own initiative to meet the need! Colleges love to see a student who is willing to step up to help on her own. This shows leadership.
Similar to any volunteer work you do, your inside and outside of school activities show where your true passions lie. Getting involved in clubs, summer camps, online classes, sports, or other activities shows that you have drive and initiative in the things in which you are interested. Colleges are also looking for lifelong learners — students who seek ways to learn even in their free time.
The Effects on College Admissions
Again, quality and length of activity is important. Stay with the clubs and organizations that interest you the most and finish any short-term programs that you start. It is important to note that large state universities put more weight on the GPA and test scores than do smaller colleges. Smaller liberal arts colleges are more likely to give more weight to a student’s involvement in various activities.
Also, be aware that colleges appreciate students who get involved in their own pre-college or summer programs. If there is a university that you think you might want to attend and they have a summer program of some kind for high school students, get involved. Not only will you get to experience the campus and learn but you will meet other prospective students.
The Heart Behind It
It’s certainly true that volunteer work and extracurricular activities can help your enhance your college application resumes, but be sure that you are checking the heart behind your work. In all things we should be doing our work to glorify God. That means that the true heart behind your volunteer work should be to love those whom you are serving, and the true heart behind your extracurricular activities should be to honor God with your talents.
If you are a sophomore, junior, or senior, be sure to download our College Planning Checklist to make sure you have all your ducks in a row!
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