In this post, I want to bring a new perspective to look at volunteering (if you are in HS) or internships (if you are in college). If you are struggling to find the motivation or the meaning to do community service, this post will help you to navigate through the noises and find the right reason for it.

Let’s look at these three students:

Adam is Boys State delegate, VP of student council, and lead actor in regional production of Grease. Counselor notes theater is a college interest and that he’s talented in both musicals and plays.

Bryn is debate president, field hockey co-captain, and is taking self-taught, online Mandarin classes. Latin teacher says she has a knack for quickly learning languages.

Corey is choir secretary, a varsity softball player, and yearbook treasurer. Her counselor notes her impact in changing school social dynamic by solely persuading peers to abolish exclusive class yearbook superlatives and instead allow EACH student to name his own. (Corey has awarded herself “Class Upcycler.”)

Corey’s title is not as prestigious as VP or co-captain but the impact described by her counselor shows her character and deep commitment to changing the social dynamic.

Most students look at volunteering as a graduation or admission requirement. These students tend to accumulate a lot of “volunteering hours” with a “prestigious title” like the president of a “Newly-Founded Organization.”

If you feel pressured to stand out, you are probably not doing it right. Do what you enjoy and have fun doing the most, whether is conventional or not. College admissions are very competitive but they are looking for students who truly do the volunteering work because they care. Therefore, they are more likely to continue to contribute when they are in college and bring impact to their campus.

When you find your interests and participate in the opportunities that show your work and strength, colleges see your character and commitment to a cause.

Participate in community services that you enjoy and have fun with.

  • Identify what excites you
  • Get recognition and feedback on your strengths and impect
  • Connect with people and communities who want to see you succeed for recomendation and referral

I encourage you to recognize what makes your heart beat, what makes you lose track of time, what pulls you out of bed in the morning. You need to be doing something but that doesn’t mean you need to be doing everything.

Be contributive and do your best at whatever you do and related opportunities will continue to show up. Eventually, you will have an application that really stands out, however, not becasue of many prestigious titles but the journey of road less traveled and the character you have become.