Volunteer activityMost students know that colleges like to see volunteering on your list of activities.  In fact, many high schools have requirements that students volunteer a certain number of hours before they graduate. Volunteer activities show the colleges that you have concerns outside your own little world and that is important to show.

But how much volunteering do you need to have? And what are the best volunteer activities?

There is no one right number of volunteer hours to have on your resume. More hours is not necessarily better or more impressive for colleges to see. It is preferable to have a consistent pattern of volunteer activities over all four years of high school. Colleges are looking not only for an indication of your commitment to others, but also that this is a serious commitment over several years.

50 hours of service over all four years will generally look better than 200 hours of service in the fall of senior year.  The latter type of volunteer effort looks like it was done solely to look good on your college application. That is not the sort of volunteer effort colleges are looking for.

Similarly, colleges don’t care what your volunteer activity is but it looks more impressive if you have a pattern of the same, or similar, types of volunteer effort. Four years working at the local food shelve looks better than a year spent on four different activities.

Ideally, to have the strongest application, you want to try and focus your volunteer effort in an area that reflects what your interests are. Are you interested in becoming a doctor after college? Then volunteering at a local hospital or nursing home will strengthen your application more than volunteering at the local park reserve. If ecology is your area of interest, then that park reserve volunteer activity would be great for you.

All volunteer activity is helpful to the college application. More importantly, it is the right thing to do to give back to your local community. However, by following this advice you can enhance the volunteer section of your resume to make yourself an even stronger candidate.

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