Building Volunteer Hours for College Applications
High school students find out in 9th grade that community service isn’t just the right thing to do, but is also an important component of college applications. In California, acceptance into the University of California (UC) system requires community service (“experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service”). Dublin High’s Advanced Scholar Diploma sets the minimum bar at 50 hours of community service. Some students enter high school with a head start from involvement in scouting programs, local place of worship initiatives or organizations their parents serve. But for many students the community service requirement is intimidating. In this article, OneDublin.org offers practical starting points for parents and students interested in getting a head start on giving back.
One challenge of community service is knowing where to start. In 2010, the Walt Disney Company partnered with charitable organizations including the HandsOn Network to connect volunteers with worthy projects. Organizations like the HandsOn Network aggregate community service organizations into one place - making it easier to find volunteer opportunities.
Community service, however, needs to be more than just a checkbox item for a college application. Students should find an organization or issue that they can be passionate about throughout high school – that rewards them as much as the organization they are supporting. DoSomething.org surveyed college admission officers at top colleges regarding community service. According to the survey, “passion and consistency hold much higher value than a smaller, even more intensive program” (DoSomething.org survey results available here).
For parents, community service is an excellent opportunity to bond as a family. Whether it’s an early morning outing to help restore tidal wetlands in San Francisco Bay (as shown in the picture with the Save the Bay organization) or distributing food at a homeless shelter there are endless opportunities to serve your community as a family.
When faced with an array of choices the best thing to do is just choose an activity and try it. Here are websites and organizations to help you give back (and get a volunteer hour closer to the college of your dreams):
- Hands on Network volunteer opportunities
- All For Good volunteer opportunities
- DoSomething.org – focusing on volunteer opportunities for teenagers
- Girl Scouts of America
- Boy Scouts of America
- Service.gov – provided by the Federal Government