Sterling Academy Blog

Building Your College Application: Volunteer Work

Posted by Sterling Staff on Feb 11, 2015 7:29:00 AM

Naturally your academic achievements and potential are of fundamental importance when it comes to applying to college. But college admissions officers are looking for more than a GPA and test scores. They want to know what kind of person you are, because attending college is about expanding your horizons and becoming a better “you” as well as eventually pursuing a career.

That means your college application must show you as a three-dimensional person. Volunteer work can enrich your life as well as your high school resume. It can bring you into contact with segments of the community you might not otherwise encounter, teach you about political issues or health concerns and put you into role of the teacher or mentor.

Volunteering gives you more opportunities for social interaction and collaboration. You’ll build leadership skills, self-esteem and confidence, and along the way you’ll come to understand the value of doing something nice for someone else, “just because.” Besides, volunteering can be amazingly energizing.

Volunteer Work

Volunteer opportunities are all around you.

Ask at your church about faith-based volunteer opportunities. Talk to your parks and recreation department about volunteering to help with sports programs, art or music classes, tend flower beds, etc. You can also contact your United Way to learn about working with one of the many local organizations they support. Or help your local Red Cross Chapter with everything from organizing blood drives to disaster relief cleanup.

As a volunteer you can be a tutor or just a friend to younger kids or elderly residents. Work at fundraising events. Pack food boxes at the food bank. Like to use your hands? Or never held a hammer in your life? Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Many youth groups such as 4-H or Future Farmers of America incorporate volunteerism as part of their programs. And often local service clubs such as Kiwanis or Rotary have youth-focused affiliates where you can assist with service projects. A recent article in U.S. News & World Report also notes that “high school students can reach out to local businesses to find unique community service opportunities."

Check out volunteer “job-finding” websites.

Teen Life can lead you to “thousands of volunteer opportunities in all 50 states,” and partners with non-profits in many cities across the country to match up willing volunteers with specific needs.

Searching these sites can help you find a just-right volunteer position, but looking over the list of possibilities will show you just how broad those opportunities are, and – if you reflect on that – just how great the need is within our communities for volunteers like you to help out.

You can volunteer and travel at the same time.

Projects Abroad is just one of several organizations that offer overseas volunteer opportunities for teens. Their projects – aimed at encouraging high school students to volunteer in developing countries -- include “taught sessions, hands-on and observational service work, as well as evening activities and weekend excursions” over a two- to four-week period.

Online high school students have complete freedom to pursue volunteer work without scheduling conflicts, so you can volunteer during the day or for extended periods if you’re needed. And you can easily blend those activities with study time and other personal or family endeavors.

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Topics: Volunteer Work, College Application

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