Students searching for college scholarship money will quickly notice a reoccurring theme in most scholarship applications. Organizations offering scholarships overwhelmingly require students to share what type of community service and volunteer projects in which they have been involved. Students applying late in their senior year of high school and who did not make the time to volunteer on a regular basis might show up at a soup kitchen a few times hoping their work will impress scholarship judges enough to be picked to win scholarship money. Unfortunately, these types of last minute “get it done” efforts show an inclination to procrastinate and a lack time management skills. When it comes to volunteering and college scholarships, quality vs. quantity is what scholarship judges are searching for.
Quality volunteer work begins well before college scholarship applications are searched for, filled out, and submitted. Early in a student’s high school career (or even better, middle school career) charitable causes with some sort of personal meaning should be explored. A family active in a church or place of worship can encourage their students to be a regular volunteer at fundraisers, dinners, and youth activities. The student hoping to find a career in the medical field can explore the different aspects of medicine by volunteering at his or her local hospital and becoming familiar with the staff and medical personnel working there. Students can show leadership skills by finding a need in their communities and creating their own charitable projects. As a result, they instantly become the “founder”, “creator”, or “organizer” of the project, which is highly impressive to scholarship judges and administrators.
When a student has volunteered for the same organization for a long period of time, they build strong relationships with the adults in supervising roles. This puts students in an excellent position to ask for letters of recommendation for both scholarship and college applications, and also for future job references. Quality letters of recommendation come from adults that can provide specific details including personal stories, first-person observations, and a genuine desire to see the student succeed.
College scholarship judges can easily differentiate between the student who scrambled to squeeze in a few community service hours and the one who spent time building relationships and truly making a difference in his or her community. Parents wondering what they can do to put their young students in a favorable position when it comes time for college scholarship applying can volunteer as a family and expose their kids to the good that comes from helping out people in need. This early exposure to community service is often all it takes to instill in students a spirit of volunteerism that will benefit others, impress scholarship judges, and create fine citizens who will go on to do great things in life.
Do you have any community service advice or volunteering suggestions for students? Please share in the comments section below. Click the "Subscribe" button above to be notified when future college scholarship related articles are published.