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does volunteering even matter on my college applications?

recently, I've signed up to volunteer at my local library, they claim it could look good on my future college applications, but do colleges really care if I volunteer anywhere? and if they do, will volunteering at the library be good?

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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Imani,

Yes, volunteering can matter on college applications, and volunteering at a library can be a valuable experience to highlight.

Importance of Volunteering in College Applications

Colleges appreciate well-rounded applicants who demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact in their communities. Volunteering is an excellent way to showcase your dedication and enthusiasm for helping others. By engaging in volunteer work, you can:

Develop essential skills: Volunteering allows you to build valuable skills like communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. These skills are highly sought after by colleges and future employers.

Demonstrate commitment and passion: Colleges prefer applicants who exhibit a strong commitment to their interests and passions. Long-term volunteering projects can help showcase your dedication and enthusiasm for a specific cause or activity.

Build connections: Volunteering can provide opportunities to network with professionals, mentors, and other volunteers who share similar

interests. These connections can open doors for future academic or career opportunities.
Enhance your college application: Including volunteer experiences on your college application can help you stand out from other applicants. It shows that you are actively engaged in your community and that you are committed to making a positive impact.

Benefits of Volunteering at a Library

Volunteering at a library is an excellent choice for several reasons:

Educational value: Libraries promote literacy and learning, which are essential for academic success. By volunteering at a library, you demonstrate your commitment to education and learning.

Versatility: Libraries offer various volunteer opportunities, such as tutoring, assisting with programs, or maintaining the library’s resources. This versatility allows you to tailor your volunteer experience to align with your interests and career goals.

Community involvement: Libraries serve as hubs for community engagement and development. By volunteering at a library, you contribute to improving your community’s quality of life while gaining valuable experience working with diverse populations.

Professional development: Library volunteer work often involves working with professional librarians, staff members, and other volunteers who can provide guidance and support as you explore potential career paths within the library field or other industries that emphasize literacy, education, and community engagement.

Authoritative References Used:

“The Benefits of Volunteering.” National Council for Behavioral Health

“The Benefits of Volunteering While in High School.” UChicago College Admissions (admissions.uchicago.edu)

“Why Volunteer? The Many Benefits of Volunteering.” United Nations Volunteers (unv.org)

God Bless,
JC.
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Lisa’s Answer

I have experience Volunteering at the CMC-West Boulevard Library as a K-12 Mentor here in Charlotte, North Carolina by way of The Engagement Center at CPCC ‘23. I am a “Life Long Learner “ and was told by the Volunteer Center at CPCC that by doing this it would “round out” my Resume and could be used as a reference for employment. It would also show your involvement in the community. This would give you “a Leg up” and ensure your place in your field of interest for employment…it would “Fatten up” your Resume and “get you the job!”
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! imani
Thank you comment icon You are so welcomed Imani…Good luck! Lisa Culvert
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Kim’s Answer

Volunteering can indeed play a significant role in enhancing your college applications, and here's why. Colleges are not only interested in your academic achievements but also in your character, values, and how you engage with your community. Volunteering demonstrates that you are willing to give your time and effort to help others, which reflects positively on your character. It shows that you are compassionate, responsible, and capable of balancing different activities alongside your studies.

When it comes to volunteering at your local library, it can be particularly beneficial for several reasons. Firstly, it highlights your commitment to literacy and education, which aligns well with the academic environment of colleges. It also shows that you are proactive in seeking opportunities to contribute to your community. Additionally, working in a library can help you develop valuable skills such as organization, communication, and customer service, all of which are attractive to colleges.

Moreover, volunteering at a library can provide you with unique experiences and stories that can make your college application essays stand out. You can discuss the impact of your work, the people you’ve helped, and what you’ve learned from the experience. This can give admissions officers insight into your personal growth and your ability to reflect on your experiences.

In summary, colleges do care about volunteering as it reflects your character and your willingness to contribute to society. Volunteering at a library is a valuable experience that can positively influence your college applications by showcasing your commitment to education and community service, as well as helping you develop important skills.
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Doc’s Answer

Do colleges care about volunteer hours, the answer is yes Imani; colleges like to see you seeking ways to be involved and making an impact in your school and your local community. More importantly, many schools see community service as an indicator of future involvement on campus — every college wants students who will be actively involved in student organizations, school-sponsored programs, and community groups, so high school community service reflects well on the role a student might play in their college community.

Remember Imani, like extracurriculars, it’s always important to remember that more can actually be less. Admissions counselor, want to see that you're actively or heavily engaged in a particular volunteering opportunity. It tells them that your truly enjoy and care about that issue — rather than having a slight involvement with many organizations. Again, engagement is key. While community service can strengthen an application, you want to be careful that it doesn’t seem like you’re doing it just to impress colleges. If you want to use community service as a part of your candidate profile, truly commit to it! Too often, applicants will focus on a community service experience where they show up once a week and are told what to do. When seeking volunteer opportunities, look for places where genuine needs intersect with your own skills and interests. A volunteer experience can be as valuable a learning opportunity as time spent in the classroom, and the benefits — for yourself and others — can reach far into the future, and that's what a college wants to see.
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Karen’s Answer

Great to see everyone is encouraging you to volunteer! The experience you gain will be helpful in many ways in addition to your resume. You may have some unique opportunities to work with a variety of people who you can learn from, connect with for the future, and possibly gain some friendships.

I'd encourage you to find a variety of volunteer activities in addition to the library so that you can expand your skills and relationships. Look for one-day events or periodic needs. You never know where you may end up in the future.

With every good wish.
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Helen’s Answer

I agree with the above answers and will just encourage you to choose extracurriculars (including volunteer opportunities) that are actually interesting and fun for you, not just because you think they'll look good on an application.

There are 2 reasons to take this approach:
1) You will actually be spending hours of your life doing the activity you choose - and your time is valuable and should be spent in ways that bring you joy, growth, happiness, etc. There's plenty of boring/unfun activities you have to do in life (at school, work, chores around the house) so why would you add to that list in your "free time"?
High school or middle school (or whatever grade you're in) is a special time that flies by quicker than you think - and I regret a few of the extracurriculars I did because I thought they would look good on my application but I wasn't actually interested in them. I don't think my minimal involvement in those things actually made a difference in my application - it was more the activities that I was passionate about and had dedicated significant time to that probably caught the eye of admissions committee members.
Instead, I would recommend thinking about what type of volunteering opportunities might be most interesting to you: do you like books and reading? Then volunteering at the library is perfect! Or are you more interested in sports and playing outside? Maybe there is a volunteer opportunity with a local sports league for young kids who could use an assistant coach or something like that. Think about what you want to actually do with the time you'll be dedicating to volunteering, and choose the activity based on that.

2) College admissions committees are reading a LOT of applications where students are listing a LOT of activities. I'm sure it all becomes a blur to them at a certain point, and what will make you stand out is having a cohesive story for WHY you have done all the activities/volunteering you did in high school and how that translates to the type of student you will be at their college. They will be able to tell the difference between a student doing a lot of different activities in a very surface-level way just to list it on an application vs. a student who has dedicated time & effort to something they are passionate about and are really good at / have made a really big impact as a result.
I would recommend that whatever you discover you're passionate about related to volunteering, you think about how you're going to tell that story to the admissions committees in your application: why is this important to you? what will you learn from this? how will you bring this experience into what you do next in life? what might your passion for this translate into when you are in college and beyond? how does this fit in with all the other pieces from different facets of your life to make you who you are?

The "what" you do is less important than the story you tell of "why" - there is no 1 activity or number of volunteering hours that will "get you into college" and so my advice is to do things that seem interesting to you! Hope this helps!
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Harshita’s Answer

Absolutely, yes! Volunteering is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the causes your care and create a tangible community impact. Colleges are looking for well-rounded individuals, leaders of tomorrow - and any well-meaning voluntary work showcases your intent to create impact.

Volunteering can also help develop skills like leadership, integrity, problem solving, etc. that are great additions to your profile.
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