You probably have been told that in addition to SAT scores, colleges consider your essay and extracurricular activities when making an acceptance decision. College acceptance committees look for well-rounded, mature, young leaders to invite into their community. Volunteering is a way to display your interests and develop your own character through helping others.

Volunteering will distinguish you from the thousands of applications that colleges receive every year. To be a good global citizen you should be willing to give back to those around you. There are hundreds of national and local organizations in your hometown (both abroad and in your home country) that you can contact for volunteer opportunities. You do not need to have a lot of time to offer in order to volunteer. There can be 1-time opportunities, such as volunteering at a walk-a-thon, or doing a neighborhood clean-up. Examples of on-going opportunities are weekly tutoring of elementary students, or working at an animal shelter.

Finding a volunteer opportunity that connects with you is a way to showcase your interests and goals. Demonstrating your priorities through actions speaks louder than words! Take the time to be thoughtful in how you would like to volunteer so you can be purposeful in giving of your time. Your school or church can be a good starting place for learning of how you can give of your time. Volunteering can often be reflective of your career goal and help you learn more of something you’re already passionate about. If you want to study environmental biology, volunteer with a local Sierra Club. If you are thinking about becoming a physician, volunteer at a local hospital in guest services. Interested in marketing or IT? There are even opportunities to offer your expertise in web-design to non-profits. Try UnitedWay or volunteermatch.org for local volunteer opportunities. Be sure to talk with your host parents before committing to ensure it is a reputable organization and a safe opportunity.

Helping others shows dedication and commitment as well as a belief in something bigger than yourself. I Peter 4:10 says,

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.”

We all have been blessed with talents and abilities. By helping those around us we uplift our entire community. So while volunteering will give you a great topic to write about in your college application essay, you may just be surprised that while you give by volunteering, you actually receive much, much more!

Sincerely,

Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI - International Education and Homestay