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Does Volunteering Help with University Admissions?

Article by GVI


Posted: April 2, 2023

As students prepare for university admissions, they often wonder if participating in activities like volunteering can have a positive impact on their application. In this article, we will explore the importance of extracurricular activities, different types of volunteering opportunities, the benefits of volunteering for university applicants, and how to showcase your experiences on your application.

Understanding the Importance of Extracurricular Activities

Engaging in extracurricular activities is an essential part of a well-rounded university application. Admissions officers evaluate these activities to understand the candidate’s passion, commitment and leadership skills.

The role of extracurricular activities in university admissions

Extracurricular activities allow applicants to demonstrate qualities and skills that cannot be easily conveyed through test scores or transcripts. They provide context and depth to a student’s application and showcase the areas of interest students are passionate about.

Additionally, participating in extracurricular activities can demonstrate personal growth, time management skills and leadership potential – all attractive qualities for universities.

How volunteering fits into the extracurricular landscape

Volunteering is a widely-recognised extracurricular activity and is valued by admissions committees. It highlights a student’s drive to make a positive impact on their community, and it often showcases their ability to juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously.

Furthermore, volunteering can allow applicants to develop essential skills and gain unique experiences that stand out in a competitive application pool.

Types of Volunteering Opportunities

There is a wide range of volunteering opportunities available to students, each with its benefits and impact on university applications.

Community service and local organisations

Many students begin their volunteering journey with community service or by joining local organisations. These experiences help them connect with their community, develop a sense of responsibility and learn valuable teamwork skills.

Examples of community service and local organisations include working with food banks, shelters, hospitals or schools. By committing to these causes, students demonstrate their dedication to improving their communities and their ability to balance multiple commitments.

International volunteering experiences

International volunteering provides students with the opportunity to engage with different cultures and communities. These experiences showcase a student’s adaptability, open-mindedness, and global perspective, which can be appealing to universities.

Examples of international volunteering include disaster relief efforts, environmental conservation projects or teaching English as a foreign language. While these experiences are often unique and meaningful, students should be prepared to discuss the ethical implications and sustainability of their international work with potential universities.

Virtual volunteering in the digital age

Since technology has allowed people to collaborate from virtually anywhere, many students are taking advantage of virtual volunteering opportunities. These experiences provide a flexible way for students to make a difference without needing to be physically present.

Examples of virtual volunteering include social media management, mentoring or tutoring students online, and organising virtual fundraisers. These experiences demonstrate a student’s dedication to their cause and their ability to adapt to a digital environment.

The Benefits of Volunteering for University Applicants

Participating in volunteering activities offers several advantages to university applicants, in addition to enhancing their overall application.

Developing valuable skills and personal growth

Volunteering allows students to acquire vital skills, such as problem-solving, communication and leadership. These skills are not only essential for personal growth but also highly valued by university admissions committees.

Furthermore, students learn to work effectively in diverse environments and overcome challenges – all important attributes universities seek in applicants.

Demonstrating commitment and passion

Regular volunteering shows dedication and passion towards a specific cause or organisation. Admissions committees appreciate students who have made significant commitments to their chosen extracurriculars, as this dedication often transfers to their academic and social lives on campus.

Expanding your network and gaining references

Volunteering allows students to build a network of contacts from various backgrounds, including potential mentors or recommendation letter writers. These connections can vouch for a student’s character and skills, adding credibility to their university application.

Portrait of young woman holding garbage showing thumb up and smiling at camera while standing outdoors

How to Showcase Your Volunteering Experience on Your Application

Effectively highlighting your volunteering experiences on your university application is critical for showing admissions committees the full range of your abilities and commitment.

Including volunteering in your personal statement

In your personal statement, describe your volunteering experiences, highlighting what you learned, the impact you made, and how these experiences have shaped your development. Be sure to convey your passion and dedication, regardless of the duration or scope of your volunteering work.

Listing your experiences in the activities section

When listing your volunteering experiences in the application’s activities section, provide a brief description, duration and hours committed. This information helps universities understand your level of involvement and dedication to your chosen pursuits.

Obtaining strong recommendation letters from supervisors

Request recommendation letters from supervisors who have observed your work ethic, skills and character during your volunteering experiences. These letters help admissions committees understand your potential contributions to the university and provide a sense of your interpersonal qualities.

Case Studies: Successful University Applicants with Volunteering Experience

Many successful university applicants have leveraged their volunteering experiences to demonstrate their ability to contribute positively to their prospective university.

Example 1: A student who volunteered at a local food bank

This student displayed their commitment to fighting hunger by regularly volunteering at a local food bank during high school. They used this experience to showcase their dedication to community service and describe how it shaped their understanding of community needs and inspired their academic interests in social work.

Example 2: A student who participated in an international service trip

By undertaking an international service trip, this student was able to illustrate their flexibility, adaptability and global perspective. They discussed how this experience deepened their understanding of cultural differences and motivated them to pursue a degree in international relations.

Example 3: A student who organised a virtual fundraiser

This student utilised technology to organize a virtual fundraiser for a disaster relief organisation, demonstrating their passion for helping others and their ability to adapt to a digital environment. They highlighted this experience as evidence of their leadership and organisational skills, both of which appealed to university admissions committees.

Balancing Volunteering with Other Application Components

While volunteering is undoubtedly beneficial, it is essential to ensure that your academic performance and other application components do not suffer as a result.

Prioritising your time and energy

Time management is critical for balancing volunteering with other responsibilities. Remember to focus on priorities such as academics, standardised tests and family obligations before committing to a significant volunteering project.

Integrating volunteering with academics and other extracurriculars

Combining your volunteering efforts with your academic interests or other extracurricular activities can help streamline your commitments. For example, you might choose to volunteer as a tutor in a subject area you excel at or organise a charitable event through an existing club or organization you are involved with.

Avoiding overcommitment and burnout

While it is essential to demonstrate dedication and passion, be cautious of overcommitment, which may negatively impact your mental health and overall performance. Remember to take breaks and give yourself time to recharge, maintaining a healthy balance between volunteering and other aspects of your life.

In conclusion, volunteering can significantly enhance your university application by showcasing your passion, commitment and skills to admissions committees. By selecting the right volunteering opportunities, effectively showcasing your experiences, and balancing your commitments, you can bolster your chances of gaining admission to your desired university.

Participating in an internship or volunteer program with GVI can provide students with a range of valuable skills. Whether they are participating in a physical placement or a virtual internship, students can gain skills such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork and adaptability. GVI programs often involve working with individuals from different cultures, which can help students to develop cross-cultural competencies and become more culturally aware. In addition, students may also gain practical skills such as data collection and analysis, research and project management. Overall, participating in a GVI internship or volunteer program can be an excellent way for students to gain practical experience, develop their skill set, and make a positive impact in the world.

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