Some years ago on a soccer sideline somewhere, or maybe in the chatty pre-show moments of a high school theatre performance, a mom or dad started the dreadful rumor that one must complete hundreds of hours of community service in order to even be considered for admission to the top colleges and universities in the country. Since that day, this misinformation has been taken as gospel by college-bound high school students and their parents. But they’re wrong.
Let’s all pause for a moment and say this together: there is nothing extra special about community service.
Now that I’ve said that, let’s throttle back from the edge so you can understand what I mean. When colleges and universities consider a student’s extracurricular profile, they are looking for the ways students have made an impact on their communities. One student might run track. Another might join the wind ensemble. A third might tutor elementary school kids. A fourth might volunteer at the local soup kitchen. As a college admission officer, I had no preference for one of these students over any of the others.