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Rae Largura: How Important Is Community Service for a Great College Application?

As we know, the checklist is lengthy for building an exceptional college application. SAT scores, AP classes, high grades, extracurricular activities and sports are all part of the presentation. Although, an application would not be complete without community service hours.

DoSomething.org is an organization that helps teens take action on causes for which they care about. It released a survey reporting that admission counselors place a high value on a student’s long-term commitment to a cause or organization: “Consistency is the new trend.” “Students who support one cause over time show commitment and perseverance.”

It is a good idea to have your child’s community service hours reinforce his or her interests. If your child is an athlete, get involved in the Special Olympics. If teaching is a consideration, volunteer as an aide for a teacher. If your child is interested in medicine, spend time at a hospital.

Volunteering is the ideal vehicle for demonstrating a student’s passion, talents and goals. College admission officers and merit scholarships will look for the positive aspects of a student’s character and the value they will bring to the college community and society.

When completing your college application, keep these few tips in mind:

» Everything you do makes a difference. Whether it’s fundraising or hands-on volunteering, the important thing is to show why you chose that organization or type of work.

» If you have an eclectic résumé of volunteering, consider dedicating the essay to explain how all them actually fit together under one larger theme such as “poverty” or “human rights.”

» Get personal and focus on how you changed as a result of your experiences, rather than just outlining what you did, how many hours, etc.

Colleges want to see well-rounded applicants who take their studies seriously, show a passion for interests and can manage time efficiently. Ideally, community service will be part of a student’s college and life strategy as early as ninth grade. It is wise to select your volunteer strategy as deliberately as choosing one’s classes.

Community service experience within your application is necessary to build a great application. Your child’s personality traits such as consistency, responsibility, passion and character should shine through. In addition to all the good outcome from volunteering, your child may even learn more about his or her future career direction.

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— Rae Largura is president of Leading Edge Tutors. The opinions expressed are her own.

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