essay helper

Being Latino on Google Plus

Why volunteering is important for college applications


United Way

Last week we talked about being academically prepared for college, how taking a rigorous course load not only sets you up to do well in college, but also increases the attractiveness of your college application.

This week we’re covering volunteering experience, and how it can make a college application stand out. While some high schools include community service as a graduation requirement, many do not. If you are one of the many students required to perform community service, utilize the opportunity. Do not fall into the trap of starting your senior year performing the bare minimum hours and spending your hours solely helping teachers after school. If you are not required to complete community service, don’t let this stop you.

Volunteering can be one of the best ways to convey your initiative and enthusiasm for a subject to your university of choice’s admissions committee. For example, for those students considering the pre-med track, volunteering at a hospital is a natural choice. Pre-vets, those that want to continue on to veterinary school, can consider volunteering at animal shelters or rescues. Another possibility is tutoring in the subject area you want to study, whether through your high school, public library or independently; this shows that you have a firm grasp of the material and are willing to aid others in learning. As an added bonus, it is often said that teaching is a great way to learn, meaning the more you explain the material to others, the more you yourself understand and retain it.

Of course, there are difficulties with volunteering while in high school. For one, there are minimum age requirements for many positions. Furthermore, finding transportation to the place and back can be problematic, especially if your family works long hours or the place is not readily accessible by public transportation. Another major issue to consider is safety.

All of these can be discouraging, but the key is persistence. Start searching for places that welcome volunteers as early as possible, ideally during freshmen year. Volunteer with these places long-term, preferably for longer than a year, as this shows your commitment to the cause and gives your supervisor a chance to get to know you, making them more willing to write a recommendation letter for you in the future.

During all of this it’s important to stay safe. Have a trusted adult go with you to visit the place before you start volunteering, and always tell someone when you are there. Make sure you feel comfortable working there, which includes feeling that you can ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Your volunteering record can add a lot to a college application, but if you find the right place, it can also add a lot to your high school experience. It can either help cement your interest in a particular career or cause, or make you realize that it is not for you. Use the opportunity wisely.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


  1. Susie Wats says:

    As a private college counselor, I agree that volunteering and community service are important for college admissions. Schools want students who will be successful academically, but they also want students who will active on their college campus and in their surrounding community.

    Susie Watts
    Denver, Colorado

  2. roxana stachura says:

    Giving back to our communities is always a good idea.

Speak Your Mind