Four Fresh Ways to View Service Work

February 12, 2024
Extracurricular Activities
College Admissions

Along with a stellar GPA and a winning essay, your community service projects play an important role in the admissions process for highly selective colleges. But how to start building meaningful volunteer experiences?

In this blog we detail a few fresh ways to maximize your community service opportunities. Read on for expert tips and helpful links to verified, current service projects.

The Importance of Service Work for Ivy League and Highly Selective Colleges

Service work provides a vital component to the profile of any prospective student. Working as a volunteer demonstrates several important values to a university, like empathy, commitment, and a more informed perspective on humanity.

In fact, a 2018 study of private and public colleges in the United States showed 58 percent of admissions counselors viewed community service as influential. Volunteer work often acts as a tiebreaker among students at competitive colleges.

So what should you look for when planning how you wish to serve during your volunteer work?

1. Authenticity First

While you may have heard people focus on the number of hours or exotic service opportunities across the world, what matters most is finding volunteer work that is meaningful to you and your future.

Authentic is not just Merriam-Webster’s 2023 Word of the Year. Staying true to yourself provides the indescribable spark every admissions counselor seeks.

Look for opportunities that make sense for who you are and what you value, whether that is animal rights, literacy, childhood obesity, or the arts. Exploring these questions provide terrific moments for introspection and learning about yourself.

Finding an authentic opportunity makes it easier for you to stay passionate and committed – which is essential for volunteer work that makes an impact on an application.

2. Build a Narrative

Once you have found a cause or organization that you truly care about, start to think of the story this volunteer work will tell about who you are and wish to become.

Ivy League schools and other competitive institutions look for outstanding individuals to make up their student bodies. Therefore, showing how you have developed specializations helps your application shine.

For example, if you spend time reading to younger students to encourage literacy, think about what that says about what your specialization may be. Does that volunteer work make sense for your desired major or future plans?

Make sure the information included on the college application all form a cohesive narrative. This helps the admissions department understand how you will contribute to a vibrant campus environment and how the university will contribute to your continuing success.

3. Choose High-Impact Roles

Consistency goes a long way when it comes to volunteer work. It often makes more of an impact to choose a local volunteer opportunity where you can serve year after year and take on more impressive responsibilities.

Consider volunteer work where you can gradually gain experience in project management or policy making as part of your service. Is there an opportunity for you to participate in research, serve on the board of directors, or carry your work over into the collegiate environment? You can stand out in the crowd with more in-depth community service.

4. Expand Your View

Pitching in at a nonprofit may seem like the go-to way to gather volunteer service. However, some experts in the Ivy League community wish to highlight other ways students like you earn valuable experiences.

Many students spent a significant amount of time caring for family members or working to provide support for their family. While this work may not be considered traditional volunteer work, the values instilled remain the same. Consider how you are  cultivating responsibility, empathy, commitment, and a holistic worldview through your unique spectrum of experiences.

Find Community Service Projects for High School Students

Now you are ready to explore the wide variety of volunteer opportunities that are perfect for you. Be sure to check out the Discover+ platform from AtomicMind to search for opportunities in STEM, social justice, sports, and more.