“Do I need service hours for college?” I’ve been asked this questions so often that I can only assume some teachers are telling students the high school’s required service hours will help with college admissions. While service requirements may be set by individual high schools or districts, there is NO requirement of community service for college admission. However, it can help.
Service strengthens an application only to the extent that the service has impacted the student or the student has impacted the world. Forced service (“I had to do it…”) makes little impact. The teacher or supervisor who oversees this type of work knows the student is only there because they have to be and recommendations based on this type of service would be counterproductive. Under-duress-students don’t gain much from the service, so it adds little to a person’s life experience and yields little value on a college application.
Should you engage in some type of service? Yes! Do what you love. Share your strengths and talents with others. I live in the south and here you might describe this as one’s gift, blessing, or calling. Not everyone is gifted in academic areas, but everyone has some type of gift. Service can be a perfect opportunity to develop the talents, strengths, and interests that have not been fostered in school.
What can you do? First, look at your current activities and interests. Can you turn any of these into service? Next, do you already belong to any groups that provide service opportunities? Often religious organizations, clubs such as NHS, and Boy and Girl Scouts have service or mission projects you could join. Finally, look for a need in your community. You don’t have to volunteer through an established organization; many great community service programs began with just one person trying to solve a problem.
While there is no official service requirement for college admissions, I’d like to encourage everyone to spend a little time helping others. It makes the world a better place and you a better person.