Summers worth writing about: Finding the right volunteer activities

Post By: COYD Staff

high school summer volunteer programI get the question “Which volunteer activity will be best on my college application?” Unfortunately, I have NEVER been able to give a student a simple answer. My answer has always been “A volunteer activity that you are passionate about.” The reason why I say this is because if you are just volunteering out of obligation or to pad your resume, the benefits of volunteering for your college application go out the door. Let’s break it down. College admission officers don’t just look at volunteer activity on a college application and automatically decide that this candidate is above any other candidate. Trust me, most students put some sort of volunteering on their resume. So once again, you look exactly like any other candidate. The students that stick out are the ones who are passionate about the volunteer activity and that will show throughout their college application.

For instance, when a student is passionate about the volunteer program, they will probably have showed commitment for a few years to this volunteer activity. In addition, this student will probably have become a valuable leader in this organization. Even if this student just volunteered for this organization for one summer, the passion for the cause will show in other parts of their high school career, whether it be through volunteering for a similar organization, writing about it in their college essay, or starting an organization at their own high school. Whatever it might be, passion for a particular activity will penetrate every part of their college career and application.

Below are a couple of starting off points so that you can find that volunteer activity that’s worth writing about:

1. Find your passion.

Below are some questions you should ask yourself in order to figure out what you are passionate about:

What would you do if you could not fail?
What would you do if you would not be limited by money?
What would you like to change about the world?
What have you done lately that you felt most empowered by?
If you had only one wish, what would it be?
Who do you most admire and why?
What are you naturally curious about?
What ideas are you most inspired by? And why?
What do you want to be remembered by at your funeral?

2. Research volunteer opportunities online

Once you have a general idea of what you are passionate about, go online and start researching organizations that you can join during the school year or summer. is a good place to start. It shows volunteer programs all over the country, searchable by keywords and location.


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