Why do so many students and parents believe that it is necessary to volunteer to get into an Ivy League school? Why do they think that just because their kid is a member of Key Club — or president of their school’s Key Club — that they stand a better chance of admission because they happen to collect keys? We’re kidding. Key Clubs don’t collect keys. They certainly do important work in the community. But why do students and parents think that by being a part of a community service organization, that they improve their odds of admission to a highly selective college?
If you do community service, hopefully you do community service because you actually like helping people. If you’re a member of Habitat for Humanity, hopefully you take great pleasure in building deserving people houses. If you tutor at a local elementary school, hopefully you take great pleasure in witnessing students master algebra. If on the other hand you’re a student who participates in a community service organization — or multiple community service organizations — simply to get into college, don’t think for a second that college admissions counselors won’t see through the charade. Don’t think they won’t have an idea about your real motivation.
The fact is, you do not have to do community service to get into college. People think that you do. But these same people are wrong. If you’re a swimmer who swims 30 hours a week, you simply don’t have the time in your day to do community service. And that’s completely understandable. If you’re a swimmer who swims 30 hours a week and then you list 15 hours on your activity sheet for participating in Key Club, then what do you think college admissions counselors are going to think? That you’re not only a really committed athlete but you also have a heart? No. They’re going to think you’re deceitful. One only has so many hours in each day. At a certain point, it’s just not possible to fit in more activities. Forty-five hours a week of swimming and Key Club? Yeah right. Be honest. Always.