It’s a common misconception that you need community service hours to get into college. Even though your high school might require service hours, very few colleges actually mandate that incoming students log even a single one. In this post, we will talk about a few schools that do look for kids with a background in service.
Like other schools referenced in this post, Johns Hopkins boasts a commitment to bolstering the community around the university. The school has launched a number of initiatives to boost the local economy and social programs, and also engage students in giving back. In turn, Johns Hopkins looks for students who are interested in contributing to a service-oriented community. The admissions website states that the committee, “looks closely at applicants’ extracurricular activities and recommendations to assess commitments outside the classroom.”
The UC Schools have a long history of being at the forefront of progressive change. The hotbed of the anti-Vietnam War Movement, UC Berkley and other schools in the system have some of the most community-engaged student bodies in the country. Like most of the schools in this post, the UC Schools do not require community service for admissions. However, their admissions website says that it values students with “experiences that demonstrate unusual promise for leadership, such as significant community service, may be considered by the campuses in the comprehensive review of a student’s application.” The operative word to pay attention to in the aforementioned sentence is “leadership.” UC-accepted students are leaders, and community service is just one avenue through which they apply that ability. So, if you plan to impress the UC admissions committee through service, make sure it’s by picking one activity that fits in with your other interests and become a leader.
Wash U is an academically-rigorous university. As such, their admissions team is on the hunt for students who challenged themselves in class throughout high school. It’s so important to them, that they actually highlight it twice in one paragraph on the admissions website. In addition, they are one of the few schools to identify community service as a particularly desirable secondary activity.
UNC claims not to have an “ideal” student they like to see for admissions. However, their admissions website acknowledges a common theme in their accepted students: “they’re smart. Motivated. Service-oriented. Curious. Creative. Courageous.” They want to see kids who contribute to their community in their time at UNC, because it “greatly increases the likelihood that they (you potentially) will go on to enhance the world after graduation.”
Above all the other schools in this post, Georgia Tech is perhaps the most committed to developing a service-oriented student body. In fact, demonstrated community contribution is on the application. The website is pretty broad in defining what contributions can look like. However, they suggest “students are involved in 3-5 activities in a meaningful way,” and make sure not to discount work and family responsibilities.
An Important Footnote
You might be sensing a theme here. While altruism is a great trait to embody, in the game of college admissions, specificity is what really counts. Whatever you do, don’t just log a bunch of hours willy-nilly. Every school, whether they mention service or not, wants to see students who have developed a demonstrated interest or an expertise in 1-2 specific areas. So, if you do log service hours, make sure they are within an activity that falls under one of your verticals and not just random hours tutoring kids from another part of town.
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