Posts Tagged “community service”

On Monday President Obama and his administration launched “United We Serve,” a call to volunteering and making a difference in our communities. And to support this endeavor employees from Craigslist, FanFeedr, Google, UCLA, and YouTube donated their time to create All for Good, a new volunteer search application which helps users find opportunities to serve within their communities and around the nation.

There you can search for service projects using key terms like education, hunger, nature, animals; find opportunities in your zip code; share your projects with your friends; or track specific volunteer activities.

If you’re looking for the perfect summer volunteer opportunity, All for Good is a great place to start. And check out First Lady Michelle Obama’s inspiring message about community service. In her words, “America’s new foundation will be built one community at a time, and it starts with you.”

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Doing something noteworthy with music in your community? DoSomething.org has teamed up with Death Cab for Cutie and the GRAMMY Foundation® to find young people who have an idea or existing project that uses music to make a difference. Five grand-prize winners will win $3,000 and be flown to LA for a trip to the Grammys!  The deadline to enter is December 15th, and you can visit DoSomething.org for rules of entry and to submit your application.

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When I was working in the admissions office at Columbia University, I would often get the question, “Is community service required or recommended for admission?”  It was always a tough one to answer because we didn’t want students scrambling to log hours of community service with last-minute bake sales and car washes, and while we didn’t have an official volunteer requirement, an application with significant community involvement definitely spoke volumes about a person’s character and commitment.

Recently DoSomething.org surveyed 25 highly ranked colleges and universities, and here’s what they had to say about the value of community service in a college application:

Passion and consistency valued most–When asked, “Which would you value more: four years volunteering at a local community center or one month helping orphans in Somalia?” 100% surveyed chose four years at a community shelter. This response indicates passion and consistency hold much higher value than a smaller, even more intensive program.

Time spent worth more than money raised–When asked, “Which would you value more: raising $100,000 for the homeless or spending a summer working at a homeless shelter?” 68% surveyed valued time spent over money raised. While raising such funds is admirable and impressive, time spent indicates the universality of volunteerism. Anyone can find a homeless shelter where they can volunteer, but not everyone has the ability to ask for money. Admissions officers “get it.” They are looking for evidence of actual service, not the ability to connect with wealthy people.

Community service ranks rourth amongst valued criteria–When asked to rank GPA, SATs, legacy, reference letters, extra curricular activities, and community service, 37.5% surveyed ranked community service fourth. While GPA and SATs are obviously the most valued criteria, community service ranks higher than legacy and reference letters. Quite simply, hard academic numbers remain the most standard and significant factors of getting into a top college, but community services are noted and valued experiences.

Organizational affiliations don’t matter–When asked, “Does being a member of a service organization like the Boy Scouts have more or less weight than an unaffiliated student volunteering?” 84% surveyed gave no weight to such affiliations. One admissions officer noted, “Service is service, that’s always a good thing.”

Tell your story well–When asked to list the three words admissions officers most like to see when students describe their community service, the most recurring words were commitment,” “passionate,” and “dedication.” When asked to list the three words admissions officers least like to see, most recurring were “required,” “mandatory,” and “tedious.” Therefore, when describing community service, it should include positive and encouraging descriptors, rather than words of obligation.

Have you found a meaningful way to give back to the community? What volunteer activities have you enjoyed the most?

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