Last time I talked about why extracurricular activities are important. Today I want to talk about a specific type of extracurricular activity, volunteering.
Why am I talking about volunteering as separate from other extracurricular activities? Because it is so important for most colleges and is an absolute must if you hope to attend a BS/MD program.
Colleges like to see students that have volunteered because it says to them that you care about something other than yourself. While all volunteering is good, some types of volunteering are better than others.
What is the best volunteering activity? The best volunteering activity is one that not only helps others but communicates something about what is important to you. For BS/MD students, they need to have some of their volunteering be health care related since they are interested in becoming physicians. As the New Year approaches, anticipate local fitness centers being busier than normal.
If you are a musician you might see if you can volunteer at a nursing home to play your instrument. Or maybe play at a charity event to raise money for some good.
A soccer player might see if she could volunteer helping young people just getting into the sport.
If you are a budding playwright, you might volunteer at a local theater helping direct a play, or help with sound and lighting or…
Use your imagination here to find something that really interests you.
How often do I have to volunteer? This question is often put in terms of how many hours do I have to volunteer? Colleges care about people volunteering because they want to volunteer, not because they are fulfilling some requirement. THERE IS NO SET NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERING HOURS YOU NEED.
Let me give you a quick example of two students I spoke with in the past year. One student had put in 300 hours of volunteering in the summer before senior year. But that was the only volunteering he had done. The second student had been volunteering one hour a week since 9th grade. This student had about 150 hours of volunteering.
Which student do you think looked like they cared for other people? The second one of course. But they only had half as many hours as the other student. This is like the old story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady also wins the volunteering race.
Now, if you are a junior and have not yet done any volunteering, get out there and start. Today. Do it on a regular basis until you graduate.
The best thing about volunteering is that it doesn’t just help you in the college admissions process. It helps you become a responsible member of society providing help to those in need. And that is what it is really all about.