bloomtwo blog

Stand out through service

July 2019

In evaluating college applications, admissions officers often start with the aspects that are easy to quantify: grades, course rigor, and test scores. There are many students with similarly strong grades and testing, so it’s important for students to differentiate themselves through their activities. Students often think they need to do something “impressive” to stand out, like go on a service trip abroad. However, colleges care more about recruiting students who pursue their passions and do things that are truly meaningful. For some students, this means working 40 hours a week at McDonald’s so their mom doesn’t have to work a second job. For others, it means devoting Saturday mornings to volunteering in a community garden. For more guidance on this point, I highly recommend this recent report from Harvard’s Making Caring Common. In particular, I loved this advice on choosing service opportunities:

“What makes service meaningful and what matters to the deans is whether service is chosen based on authentic interest, and is immersive, meaningful and sustained.”