If you Google “does volunteering help get into college,” 22,000,000 results appear. In looking through the results, themes emerge about how volunteering may help you (or your child if you’re a parent reading this) get into college. Here are some caveats from the vast array of responses in Google:
- When you list the breadth of volunteer experiences you’ve completed through Lion’s Heart, colleges get a sense of who you are, what your interests are, and what you might bring to their campuses.
- Colleges are looking for patterns into what interests you. WHY are you volunteering?
- It isn’t just about the number of hours you acquire, it is about how the experiences might shape who you are as the applicant.
- Colleges are interested in your long-term commitment to causes.
An article in US News and World Report (11/30/2011) had the following to guide you in reporting your volunteer hours on college applications:
• Everything you do makes a difference. Whether that means fundraising or hands on volunteering, the important thing is to show WHY you tackled this issue and HOW you did it.
• If you have a long laundry list of causes, consider dedicating one of your essays to explaining how all those issues actually fit together under one larger theme like “poverty” or “human rights.”
• Get personal and focus on how you changed as a result of your experience(s), rather than just outlining what you did, how many hours, etc.
• Specific language can be more effective: Words like “passion” and “initiative,” should be used instead of ”required” and “brief.”
This advice may be timely for older Members who are seriously working towards completing college applications. For younger Members, it might be some guidance in shaping how you think about what you do for volunteering.