It never hurts to give back!

College applications can be super daunting. There's a lot of pressure to put forward the best possible version of yourself, but also express that you're a three-dimensional human with interests, goals, and skills. While there isn't some universally perfect profile that you can model your application off of, having a college application that shows a commitment to volunteering can be an effective way to stand out in a crowded application field. 

Numerous studies have shown that community service has a positive impact on college admissions. A 2018 study found that 58 percent of college admissions offices believe that a record of community service has a positive impact on a student's acceptance to a university. A similar 53 percent reported that community service is an effective tie-breaker between students with similar academic accomplishments. 

The exact meaning of volunteering can vary a lot from student to student. You don't need to spend all of your summers digging irrigation trenches in the desert or shearing alpacas for their wool. Instead, take a moment and think, what sort of skills you're planning on putting forward in your application? What sort of things motivate you? What areas are you looking to grow? Once you have an idea of these things, think about places in your community that you can apply yourself. 

College admissions don't just want to see impressive accolades about your volunteer work; they want to hear about how it's impacted you and helped you grow. Picking causes that are important to you, or contributing your skills to a community that you deeply care about are helpful considerations for both showcasing your unique philosophy and doing as much good as possible. 

When in doubt, think locally and look for organizations that are actively doing work inside communities you care about.

For example, Mile High United Way is a Denver organization that handles a wide variety of community outreach. Volunteering at an organization like United Way can mean a wide variety of different things, ranging from helping academically-vulnerable youth to putting together supply kits for communities that need them!

There's no one-size-fits-all for community service, and having a standout college application means intentionally looking for the places where you can use your skills most effectively!