One of the most popular extracurricular activities that students get involved with is volunteering. Whether you’re bagging lunches for hungry kids, cleaning up a local park, or painting a mural for a nearby school, there are a lot of great ways to serve others.
Although volunteering is definitely personally fulfilling, it can also help you boost your chances of admission at your dream school. Of course, you shouldn’t volunteer just to build your resume, but it is one way to stand out from the applicant pool. In this post, we cover some of the reasons that service can move your application to the “yes” pile.
1. You’ll gain valuable experiences
Volunteering can open your eyes to what’s going on in your local community and around the world. Some students focus so much on school, homework, and test prep that they forget there are so many other more important things in life. Admissions officers want to see you immerse yourself in a variety of different settings and experiences. Doing so will make you a much more well-rounded candidate.
2. You’ll learn new skills
Volunteer at a local clinic, and you might pick up some new skills related to medicine. Translate documents for a pro bono lawyer, and you can sharpen your foreign language skills. Create flyers for a grassroots campaign, and gain some savvy with design software tools. These skills will all translate well on your application.
3. It’s a way to express interest in your intended career field
There’s no better way to prove to admissions officers that you’ve thoroughly explored your intended career field than to volunteer in that environment. If you plan to apply for a master’s in teaching, give your time to an after-school reading program. If you want to earn a master’s in nutrition, volunteer to show kids the importance of healthy eating.
4. You can find mentors
One of the best things you can do to set yourself for application success is to find mentors who can be your advocates. If you put a lot of time into your volunteer cause, you can develop relationships with people who can end up writing credible letters of recommendation and advising you through career options.
5. You’ll demonstrate your commitment
Schools aren’t looking for students who jump around from one activity to another, without any real sustained commitment. They’re looking for students with a demonstrated track record of involvement. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to show your commitment to one or two causes of interest.
6. You’ll have a chance to show your leadership abilities
Thinking it’d be a worthwhile cause to help out earthquake victims, but don’t know where to start? Why not kickstart your own fundraiser and mobilize your friends and family to do the same? Through volunteering, you can take the driver’s seat and show initiative to engage and lead others.
7. You’re making a difference for others
Schools want to see students who follow a personal motto of “service above self.” Volunteering shows that you think about others and want to make an impact. Many application essay prompts and interviews will ask how you’ve served others – your volunteer experience will allow you to easily respond.
About the Author:
Catherine supports Clemmonsdogpark’s future grad school students by unlocking tricks of the test prep and application trade. Catherine spends her free time checking out local farmer’s markets, reading food and lifestyle blogs, and watching Bravo. She is forever in search of the best Mexican and Italian food in any given city.
1 – Photo at top courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user under the .