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High School Community Service Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

November 24, 2015 :: Admissionado

Community Service | Admissionado

Imagine an extracurricular that makes your child more aware of the wide world around them and helps teach them about the importance of their ability to shape it.

Admissions committees love community service extracurriculars. So do I, and so do all of our consultants here at Admissionado. But, WHY?

Participating in community service benefits so many people in so many different ways, it’s almost hard to wrap your head around the impact. In my last post we talked about the wide range of activities that can be considered “community service” and how to help your student get involved.

Relationships That Form Through Community Service Are Motivational

Students meet and work with new people whom they might not otherwise encounter, and have a specific goal that motivates their involvement in that community. From a psychosocial perspective, students come to better understand both the positive impact they can have as an individual, and their place alongside others in the world. Admissionado’s COO Lauren Herskovic shares her positive experience working with students very different from herself:

“When I was in high school, I tutored middle school students from an underserved community during my Junior and Senior years. Truth be told, when I first started I was doing it to get extra credit in a class, but I got attached to the students pretty quickly and continued doing it on my own for the rest of high school. Not only did it feel good to provide support to students who wouldn’t normally have access to it, it really opened my eyes to things I had never experienced. I grew up in a very homogenous community, and I didn’t really understand how fortunate I was until I sat next to really great kids who didn’t have the resources I did. I learned so much about the world and about myself through those twice-weekly tutoring sessions, and it had such an impact on who I became throughout college and beyond, and how I saw (and interacted) with the world around me.”

High School Community Service Helps Develop Concrete Skills

Along with meeting new people and working towards a goal, students gain concrete skills through community service. Of course skills gained will be different depending on the work, but students can also choose their volunteer work based on the types of skills they want to gain.

For example, my first and most rewarding community service position was in high school, working at the Summer Reading Program at my local public library. I learned concrete skills like shelving books, organizing step-by-step arts and crafts, and registering kids for the program. I also learned social skills like how to engage young children in reading, dealing with over-involved helicopter parents, and working as part of a team.

All of these skills were useful later in life, leading me to work at summer camps and research libraries, and eventually to my favorite job at an international non-profit that promotes literacy through book clubs and summer camps. All that is to say, the impact of community service lasts far beyond the work that is actually done.

Teens Learn To Channel Passion Through Their Volunteer Work And Service

Admissionado’s Head College Mentor, Stephen Black also serviced his community during high school and learned the importance of passion in volunteering.

“My community service experience in high school was transformative, mainly because it helped me understand the true value of volunteer work. I began freshman year with activities that I thought were typical, things that students “should” do, such as volunteering at the local hospital and nursing home. The problem was that I was forcing myself to do this work with no passion behind it. Thus, I decided to focus on work that I felt connected to. I applied for and got a position on a Congressional Youth Advisory Committee for my home district in NJ. I had a passion for politics and social change, so meeting regularly with other students and our US Congressional Representative was both interesting and meaningful. Additionally, as a member of my high school’s acapella group, I performed monthly at nursing homes and children’s hospitals around the area. When I returned to these environments doing something I really loved, I recognized that passion was essential in all community service endeavors.”

The Bottom Line: The Community (Including Your Child) Wins

We’ve gotten this far, and I haven’t even mentioned how community service helps the group or community that it is involved with. Whatever your student is doing, a good community service project will provide long-term, sustainable benefit to whomever it’s serving. This may mean a physical project that will exist long after the work is finished, or service provision like Lauren and I did that continues to benefit those we serve long after we’re gone. For me, service provision was always more rewarding than physical work, although both have the same tangible benefits for both student and community. The choice is up to your student!

So, why do adcoms love community service? Because students who are involved in service develop in ways that make them more aware of the diverse world around them, and more capable of contributing to it in positive and constructive ways. Such students are more likely to be involved in on-campus life, and more likely to be open to trying out all the new opportunities that are available in college.

All in all, community service is the best thing a student can do in high school. But I’m not pitching it.

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