One of the most well-liked extracurricular activities that high school students participate in during their free time is community service.
High school students can participate in their communities in countless ways. You can check out some of them here. Regardless of your specific hobbies, there is truly something for everyone out there!
Additionally, community service is highly valued by admissions officers. Having experience performing community service demonstrates your commitment to changing the world and your willingness to become involved.
But how many hours of community service do you really need to complete for college admissions to feel confident that your work is “good enough”? Do you require a specific number of hours for each school?
Find out by reading on!
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A general rule of thumb is that anything between 50 and 200 hours will sound impressive and demonstrate your devotion. Once you have worked more than 200 hours, though, you should start to wonder if you might be better off using your spare time in another way.
Sadly, there isn’t a specific quantity of community service hours that can guarantee you admission to college. Always put grades and test results first.
Community service activity can highlight a facet of your personality and help admissions officers see you as a responsible citizen and leader, but it won’t automatically get you in. Admissions officers won’t hold spaces open for you solely on the basis of your volunteer work, even if you have logged 500+ hours of service. You must still possess the whole bundle.
Consider volunteering to be an extracurricular activity just like any other. Make sure it counts if this is how you choose to spend your time.
Fortunately, you can do just that according to a recent study by DoSomething.org. 33 of the top 50 colleges’ admissions officials were questioned about their opinions about community service as an extracurricular activity. admissions personnel’s answers showed what they’re genuinely considering when it comes to community service.
You might be shocked to learn that the most crucial consideration is not how many hours you spend performing community service.
In actuality, the majority of admissions officers claim that they are more interested in your past accomplishments, motivations for your actions, and expected outcomes. They don’t really care how many hours you spent doing it as long as you can sufficiently describe these things.
According to two-thirds of college admissions officers, there is no such thing as too many hours spent on community service. You can volunteer to your heart’s content as long as it doesn’t interfere with your academic performance or other aspects of your life.
But the inverse is also accurate. Most admissions officers are probably not going to dismiss community service work that you have done just because you haven’t put in enough hours doing it as long as you have made a significant impact that you can explain.
So how should you use those 50 to 200 hours if that’s your goal?
In general, sticking with the same project makes it simpler and requires fewer hours to make a difference than distributing your time across multiple.
Look for a project you can devote at least fifty hours to. Most admissions officers won’t be persuaded that you have committed enough time to actually be making a difference if you have significantly less than this.
At the end of the day, 500 hours won’t seem all that impressive compared to 200 hours, and those hours could have been better spent on other extracurricular activities, improving academics, or test preparation.
What DO admissions officers want to see in your community service, if the amount of hours you spend performing volunteer work isn’t the most crucial factor?
Your community contribution should reflect three key characteristics: dedication, enthusiasm, and leadership. The best students will also take advantage of the chance to reflect during their community service engagement.
Being actively involved in your chosen project for a long time is one way to demonstrate commitment.
In the DoSomething survey, admissions officials stated that they would rather see long-term commitment to a less-spectacular cause, such as local volunteer work, than a short-term commitment to something flashy, such as working abroad.
Additionally, 60% of admissions examiners want to see applicants who have dedicated themselves to just one cause throughout their high school careers. Why? They’re more intrigued by your ability to succeed when you’re focused and determined than they are by a lengthy list of your voluntary endeavors. “Longevity and perseverance are attributes crucial for collegiate success,” one officer said.
Long-term dedication demonstrates passion. More than 60% of admissions officers say they like to see service that began in the first year of high school, and 15% more say the commitment to service should begin earlier.
However, what really matters is that you have been volunteering long enough to have had a significant impact on both the community and your own personal growth.
Do a community service project related to a cause you already care about or are passionate about to demonstrate your passion.
Performing community service can be a terrific approach to exploring a particular interest you may have. For instance, if you have a strong affinity for animals, you might think about volunteering at an animal shelter.
Long-term involvement is crucial, as was already said. Students are more likely to commit to a long-term project if they already care about the cause.
Working in a field you are passionate about also demonstrates your ability to act where you identify a need, which is a terrific quality that admissions officers look for. Additionally, you will come out as being more honest in your efforts the more you can articulate why you care about a cause.
By controlling others and taking the reins during a task or event, you can demonstrate your leadership abilities. You can demonstrate leadership by being in charge of inspiring others to achieve success.
Schools are curious to see how you’ve taken charge and improved your extracurricular activity, just like they are with any extracurricular. Leaders have a higher chance of bringing about the kind of change that colleges want to admit. Having a founding or leading role in your volunteer work, according to more than 50% of admissions officials, was the most crucial attribute you could demonstrate.
The greatest students who have participated in community service will also be able to consider how their effort has impacted both other people and themselves.
Students should reflect on whether their community service initiatives have truly benefited society. After all, performing community service has that as its goal. It might be much more difficult to evaluate success in community service than it is in other extracurricular activities. Ask yourself if you have achieved your goals and if anyone has benefited from your efforts.
Make sure you comprehend the significance of the work you’ve done and the ways in which it has had an influence.
Because they demonstrate that they are thoughtful and have dedicated themselves for genuine reasons rather than just to have something to mention on their CV, students who can reflect on these issues are more likely to impress admissions authorities.
Do you think you have given enough time to your community work to genuinely have an impact? Admissions officers won’t be impressed if all you did was show up there and work a few hours to improve your résumé.
Admissions officials are very interested in leadership experience, as was already mentioned. They are, however, also drawn to kids who have grown in other respects as a result of their community work. This would also be a fantastic topic to write about if, for instance, your volunteer activity has increased your empathy.
Since they can demonstrate that they performed community service sincerely and not merely to have something to put on their CV, students who can reflect on these factors are more likely to impress admissions authorities.
Many kids will perform community service for incorrect motivations, and it will be obvious.
Admissions authorities are constantly looking for applicants who volunteer solely to meet quotas. It can be a warning sign if you describe your experience in terms of hours rather than reasons and accomplishments.
For admissions officers, terms like “required” and “mandated” raise red flags. Don’t describe your community service in a way that suggests you were coerced into doing it, even if it was something your high school asked of you. This may give admissions officers the impression that you had a bad relationship with the work you produced and only did it out of necessity.
Admissions officers would prefer that you leave out your community service if it is clear that you are merely participating in it so you may list it on your application. Like any other extracurricular activity, you should only include it on your resume if it has significantly impacted your development.
Even if theoretically all extracurricular activities are equal, we still advise you to include some sort of community service on your application if you have the resources to do so. This is extremely crucial when applying to prestigious universities.
Try to complete a project that you’ve worked on for at least 50 hours. Try to invest even more time over multiple years if you want community service to be your primary extracurricular activity.
Despite the fact that the majority of officers claim that all activities are absolutely comparable and can demonstrate the same qualities, some admissions officers for prestigious schools assert that community service can be particularly noticeable on an application if it is completely absent.
This is particularly true for applications to the most selective schools, where the majority of applicants will have participated in voluntary work.
However, keep in mind that performing community service is not required, especially if you have a valid excuse. Nearly all police officers agree that there are other methods to demonstrate your qualities as a leader and good citizen that DON’T involve performing community service. This can be done by participation in other extracurricular activities, employment, or, if your particular situation calls for it, by lending a hand to your family.