Colleges search for well-rounded students who participate in extracurricular and cocurricular activities. These are activities that extend your learning beyond your coursework, like participating in athletics or a student club. In fact, about one in three college admissions officers say they consider volunteering in the local community the most impressive activity of a potential student. This page can help you get started and find a project that you enjoy.
- Select a cause: There are hundreds of organizations that could use a volunteer like you. To begin finding the right project for you, first decide what type of cause you’d like to support. Maybe it’s working with animals, helping the homeless or mentoring fellow students. The National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society offer a list of cause-related organizations that can serve as your starting point.
You also can look for individual service project ideas by visiting the National Student Project Database.
- Use your skills to help others: Think about your skills and expertise when deciding on a community service project. Choose an opportunity that aligns closely with your skills and interests so you have a more meaningful experience. Keep in mind that sometimes volunteer opportunities turn into job offers.
- Communicate your interests: Once you know what cause you want to support, contact the organization that aligns with your interest. Ask them about their different volunteer opportunities and explain exactly what you wish to get out of the experience. Organizations often have multiple programs that welcome volunteers, so understanding your options will allow you find the best fit for you.
- Consider the project length: Community service projects can be short or long term, so be sure you understand the length of the commitment. Here are some key benefits to both options:
- Short-term projects can be finished in a matter of hours, days, or weeks and don’t require an ongoing commitment. Short-term volunteer options allow you to explore many different volunteer opportunities throughout the year.
- Long-term projects can last months or even years. With these volunteer opportunities, you will develop a deep understanding of the cause you support and learn about the continuity that is required to make a larger impact on the community.
- Create your own project: Didn’t find what you’re looking for? Consider creating your own community service project. You could do this on your own or with peers, coordinating with your school or community officials. If you think about areas in your community that could use improvements, some ideas will start coming to mind. Maybe it’s the need for a food drive at your high school for the local food bank or the opportunity to raise money for a good cause at a school basketball game. Thinking outside the box and developing your own volunteer opportunity could help you be noticed by college admission officers and will keep you genuinely engaged in the project.