Why Is Community Service In High School So Important?

community service in high school

Admissions offices rate community service in high school as highly important! They’re able to determine what type of person you are by how you spend your time and how you engage with your community. Which all helps shape their school culture! In fact, 53% of admissions officers reveal that when deciding between two equally qualified candidates, community service is the deciding factor. Here’s why:

  • Community service minded students are more active on campus outside of class responsibilities
  • Those who take part in community service opportunities add value to the student body and the college as a whole
  • Community service volunteers score high on empathy

All three points benefit the school and make their college a better place to be. Who wouldn’t want such civic-minded people as part of their student population? In the following article, we’ll cover what qualifies as community service in high school, how to get involved in your area, how much time to give, and how to share that on your admissions information. 

What qualifies as community service?

Every community is replete with volunteer opportunities — you just have to start looking. To qualify as community service, your time must be unpaid work that helps improve your community. The range of opportunities is almost as vast as your imagination. You can donate clothes, help disadvantaged community members, rake leaves, volunteer at an animal shelter, or beautify a park. 

Consider contacting a local business or organization you love and see if you can help. There are also larger groups that need help, like the United Way, VolunteerMatch, the Red Cross and Boys & Girls Club.

How do I get involved in community service as a high school student?

Take the first step and simply ask if you can help. Talk to your school counselor and mentors about opportunities they’re aware of. (If you don’t have a mentor, check out our mentorship program!) 

Pursue activities you’re interested in. If you know what career you’d like to have, choose a volunteer project that relates to your field of study. This way, you’ll gain experience and ignite a passion that melds your future with your community in a tangible way. 

These opportunities provide growth in skills like leadership, decision making, time management, compassion, and empathy.

How much time should I commit to community service in high school?

Most admissions counselors can see who is adding community service hours to their application just to look good and who is being authentic in their interests. They also weigh quality time more than quantity time. 

A good estimate is to plan for somewhere between 50-200 hours of community service time during your high school career.

How do I share my service hours in my college application?

You’ll share your high school community service contributions in the extra-curricular portion of your college application. Many high schoolers choose to use the lessons they learned during their community service time as the subject of their college essay. If you choose this avenue, remember to be transparent and speak from the heart. Admissions officers don’t want to hear trite platitudes. They want to see the real you!