When students apply to college, it is drilled in their heads that a high GPA and high SAT/ACT test scores are crucial to acceptance into their dream schools. While these statistics are important, it is a little harder to demonstrate the full picture when a major component of college applications is qualitative. A set of numbers won’t take the admissions officer very far into getting to know you. Once the student passes a benchmark of scores, the content of an essay and a resume complete the picture. Here, you have the chance to showcase what you are passionate about and where your interests lie, giving the stranger reading your plea for admission a deeper look into who you are.
As a highschool student, available work experience is limited. Which is fine, no one expects you to enter college with a full resume of job experience. What will give you an edge, though, is volunteer work. Volunteers have more freedom than anyone else in the job market. Though your labor is unpaid, you can choose any non-profit organization, any issue or need in your community and help. Options for where to help out are endless.
Once you are established in your volunteer work, a multitude of benefits will soon come your way. One benefit is leadership experience.
According to the Lead Change Group, a virtual community of leaders, “Volunteering takes you outside of your comfort zone, giving you an opportunity to work with new challenges, people, politics and interpersonal dynamics. Volunteering offers new perspective on priorities. Hanging out with people with different life experiences encourages you to tackle challenges from different angles.”
Another benefit is networking. Your network expands when you volunteer. Not only will you be meeting new people, you could work under someone that serves as a mentor. Work closely with your volunteer coordinators and they could be the ones writing your college recommendation.
Since the start of your volunteer story, you will have broadened your skillset, met new people, and established yourself as a community leader. Make sure to keep track of these changes and the impact you have made on your organization. “Get personal,” a college admissions officer suggested. “Focus on how you’ve changed, don’t just list what you did, how many hours you volunteered” (Huffington Post: College Admissions- Volunteer Service That Gets You Into College).
It isn’t only about the hours, it’s about having a record that helps you tell a story. Both you and the college will have a better idea of what sets you apart, what you are passionate about, and exactly why you belong at the school of your dreams.
But the perks of volunteering don't stop there. Check out all the different benefits of volunteering your time:
- How Volunteering Can Improve Your Health
- Why Volunteering Makes People Better Citizens
- Why Volunteers Are More Likely to Land Jobs