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Monday, January 2, 2017
Do Colleges Really Care About Community Service
Most parents of teenagers will tell you that even the brightest and most driven of their offspring still neglect to pick their wet towels up off the bathroom floor. So when it comes to encouraging high school students to engage in community service, is there a way to ensure that the volunteering is being done for the right reasons?
The community service essay is a thing. It usually morphs into some version of "I gained far more from them than they did from me". Student travels to a developing nation or a local soup kitchen, experiences sharp social awakening, and returns home with new sense of perspective and gratitude.
It's unfortunate that this trope has become so trite. Because there are absolutely students who volunteer for the right reasons, and cathartically emerge from the experience with unclouded eyes. The problem is, the admissions game has gotten so competitive, it's near impossible to separate the mockups from the genuine articles. Students understand that universities are looking for well-rounded candidates, and that, where all else is equal (grades/test scores) the soft factors may be the deciding factors.
What it comes down to is a student's ability to show, not tell. If the soup kitchen truly changed the way a student viewed their world, it is likely to reveal itself through their other chosen experiences. Their passion will surface through their words; laundry lists of charity 5Ks won't fool anyone.
Above all, colleges do care about these kinds of experiences, but they are only a small piece of the whole student.
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