Community Service as a Factor in Admissions

Community Service and Admissions, Community Service and Ivy League, Ivy Community Service

Working in a soup kitchen will not set you apart in highly selective college admissions, though it is indeed a nice thing to do!

Hi Ivy Coach,

My name is Hannah Sentenac, and I’m with I am currently working on a story about student volunteering and a part of the story is how participation in such activities factors into college admissions decisions, especially for the top colleges.

Below I’ve posted the questions I have. I would be happy to have them answered either over e-mail or the phone, whichever is easiest for you. Thanks a million!

Hannah Sentenac

Q. What types of volunteer work do you think is most prevalent among students today?

Many students list on their activity sheets some element of community service. Perhaps they worked as a hospital volunteer or helped out in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Though all of this is very noble, it also borders on the ordinary. It’s when the student takes community service to a new level that it actually makes a difference. When that student has a vision, an innovative idea, writes a grant, solicits funds, and enlists others that the student is seen as a leader, a mover and shaker, and then community service becomes a hook on the application.

Q. Do you see a lot of students who have started their own community service groups? Do you think this type of entrepreneurial activism has increased in recent years?

We’ve seen students try to do this but for lack of imagination they end up joining an existing organization that, for example, may work to build homes in an impoverished South American country. Again, this is very noble, but it’s also not uncommon.

Q. What advice do you offer students about participating in community activism?

Students need to be creative, to think outside the box. They need to do something different, something that will attract attention. Students don’t have to spend $6,000 to travel to the Fiji Islands to work with preschoolers or construct a nursing station. Through their school, synagogue, church, and together with their friends, or even on their own, students can do something very significant in their own community.

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