Community Service and Admissions

Many folks believe that performing community service is essential in order to gain admission to highly selective colleges. These folks are just plain wrong. Don’t get us wrong — it’s nice to perform community service. By serving soup in soup kitchens, by building houses for the homeless, by walking charity races for a great cause — you are making this world a better place. That’s an incredible thing and you should be proud of yourself. But will these actions help you gain admission to a highly selective college? Probably not.

Community Service in Admissions, University Admission and Community Service, Ivy League and Community Service

One should not seek college admissions advice from Girl Scouts troop leaders. Hillary Clinton is not a Girl Scouts troop leader, but this is the only photo we can find of Girl Scouts that is in the Public Domain.

Highly selective colleges don’t seek out students who do ordinary community service. Serving soup in a soup kitchen is ordinary at best. But wonderful, of course. Not everyone in this world volunteers at soup kitchens — it shows you’ve got heart. Or it can show that you think it’ll help your case to get into a highly selective college. It won’t. There’s even an article in a local newspaper in Michigan today (“Monroe News”) entitled “Service Can Pump Up College Application” in which the writer, Paula Wethington, states, “Do you want one tip that will help your high school student be the best possible candidate for college acceptance and scholarship awards? It’s all in the timing of what you can put on the student resumes. Know when those applications are likely to be due and set a goal to have as many community service and leadership accomplishments as possible completed before that point.”

Talk about quantity over quality! Highly selective colleges don’t care if students are involved in a hundred activities. No, we take that back. They do care. They won’t admit such a student. What top colleges are looking for is depth of involvement in activities — activities that set students apart from the plethora of other applicants. At Ivy Coach, we aim to correct college admissions misconceptions and the advice put forward in this “Monroe News” article is just, well, incorrect. This advice apparently came from a “Girl Scouts troop leader.” Perhaps one shouldn’t be getting advice on college admissions from Girl Scouts troop leaders? Just maybe?

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