4 answers

How does volunteering help you get into college?

Updated Oakland, California

At what level would volunteer hours help you get into college? people did a lot of volunteer works, but I don't know how do that would help you get into college. what information do people get from the volunteer works?
#college #volunteerhours #collegeadives #collegeadministration #volunteering #extracurriculars #college-admissions #college-advice

4 answers

Suzanne’s Answer

Updated Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Hi Joy - What a great question! Volunteering is a great way to boost your chances of getting into college, but you need to be thoughtful about it. A lot of people volunteer as a "check the box" activity that isn't an interest of theirs personally or something that would help build skills that you didn't have already. For example, joining a community trash pick up for one day that you personally didn't enjoy. However, if you really want to be in the medical profession and decide to volunteer with the Red Cross or another similar organization on a regular basis, that is a more meaningful volunteer opportunity that can boost your changes. The goal is to differentiate yourself from others - and also to do something that you actually enjoy. This article is pretty helpful as well: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/ishan-puri/does-volunteer-work-matter_b_11392454.html Good luck!
Hi Suzanne, Thank you for your advice! I am currently doing something that is what I like to do as a hobby, but it is not quite related to the major I want to do in college. In this case, when I apply to college, should I apply for the major (that I didn't do any volunteer work in that field) or another major ( that's related to my volunteer work, but not a popular major) and get in first?? For instance, I am volunteered with an environmental organization and put a lot of effort in it simply because I like it as a hobby. What I actually want to major in college is math. All my volunteer work has nothing to do with math, so should I still put math as the major I apply to? or should I apply for environmental major just to get into the college first? Thank you for your time.

Rachel’s Answer


<span style="background-color: transparent;">Collegeboard.org is a great resource for this! I poured through the pages of universities all over the U.S. when I was a senior in high school. Collegeboard was my go-to site! They put all of the information in one place and it is very easy to use. They even have various filters you can apply to see only colleges that have programs you are interested. To determine academic rigor, look at the admissions requirements, G.P.A. of past admitted applicants, SAT/ACT scores, class rank etc. This will give you an idea of what scores and grades you need to be accepted. However, don't be discouraged your application will be reviewed based on the full picture! College-board will help you get an idea of what is most important to the specific school you are applying to.</span>

This professional recommends the following next steps:

  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Chat with your Guidance Counselor</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Create a Collegeboard.org account</span>
  • <span style="background-color: transparent;">Start using CollegeBoard as a resource to look up schools.</span>

Di’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

First, it's wonderful that you enjoy volunteering with an environmental organization and put a lot of effort into it. We need more people like you in the world!

Volunteering is a great way to serve others and learn how you can contribute to make the world a better place. When you volunteer, you get to see something grow, thrive, or succeed. It's a great way to give back to your community. I'm sure you've seen people who only do certain activities because it looks good on their college applications, not because they enjoy it. While that is a means to an end, it also shines a negative light their character and intentions.

Overall, I think you should list on your application any volunteer work that you're passionate about, even if it's not directly related to your intended major. There are multiple ways to get into a major you want. You can list math as your intended major on your application and write about why you want to study math in your personal statement. You can declare math as your major once you start classes. You can talk to current math majors at your schools of choice to see how they got in.

Some schools have freshman direct programs, where they admit some college applicants into their major of choice. So when these students start college as freshmen, they are already in their major and don't need to compete with other students to get in. From a quick search, schools that do this usually do it for business, engineering, and computer science, which the latter two involve a lot of math.

Best of luck on your college applications. College is a great time to learn and grow. You will love it.

Hi Di, Thank you for your suggestions. You motivate me to volunteer for the things I am passionate about again. Since a lot of my friends just get the position to look good on the college application, but they do not actually enjoy it, which makes me really frustrated when I saw them complaining about it. Also, if my major has nothing to do with what I am doing right now, would it decrease the chance for me to get into that major? I do volunteer for some organization that I like as a hobby, but not necessarily for my career in the future. Thanks, Joy

Karen’s Answer


Volunteering shows you are willing to go above and beyond what is expected.  It can also demonstrate that you are flexible and capable of working with a wide variety of individuals.  It's a great example of your commitment to a cause and desire to give back.  It can speak volumes about your character.

Try a variety of volunteer positions to find something you enjoy or that brings you gratification.  I believe you will be glad you did!

With every good wish.

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