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Does Volunteering Help with College Admissions?

Does Volunteering Help with College Admissions?

You’re taking challenging classes, studying for the SAT, and your lacrosse season is going well. You’re looking at different colleges and beginning to collect a list of admission requirements. You are in Model U.N. and keep busy with a few extracurricular projects throughout the year – but something seems to be missing.

This nagging – or pull – is the first step in choosing a volunteer activity. If you don’t have that nagging feeling or a pull – it’s ok. You can have an amazing resume and application package without a volunteer activity (really). For those of you with the pull, here is a little advice on how to pick a volunteer activity.

1. Sincerity – You Want to Volunteer!

It is true! The first reason to volunteer is because you want to. If something doesn’t fit you and you have no personal desire to participate, a volunteer activity will come off as insincere and false to admission counselors. Insincerity is not only dishonest to yourself, it is also detrimental to an application. The first step in choosing a volunteer activity is to have the proclivity and interest to do such work.

2. Connect Schoolwork to Real Issues

What issues surround your proposed volunteering venture? If you are doing Meals-on-Wheels, societal issues of the elderly, retirement, living alone, and class will probably emerge. If you are working with a cancer organization, current research and funding issues might surface. One wonderful thing about starting any new activity is that it will lead you to a new place. But try to project, first, what issues a volunteering gig might lead to. Those issues will connect to your academic life and show admission counselors you are not only a stellar student, but someone who can connect studying to action.

3. Network and Make Connections

Not only will volunteering connect your interests to larger societal issues, you will also be connecting to a new group of people. Networking within these new groups is absolutely essential. If you volunteer with a state representative’s office, you will be working inside the political system of your state – and keeping those connections throughout high school and college might later lead to a job. If you decide to volunteer at a hospice, you might health workers who can advise you later. Keep an open mind – and keep your connections.


If these three reasons ring true for you in volunteering – go for it! But notice that a top reason was not “to make your application stand out.” Volunteer work will, of course, stand out. And you could, of course, put yourself through a year of volunteer work somewhere even if you are disinterested in the actual activity. You might even pull it off. But volunteering – as in any activity – will make your application unique only if you are committed and follow through. Admission counselors will notice, and appreciate the gumption and honesty.


This post is titled “Top 3 Reasons To Volunteer.” It was written by Marta Casey, a writer on Top Test Prep’s team. To learn more about Top Test Prep’s programs, call (800) 501 – Prep.

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