COMMUNITY SERVICE – A BENIFIT OR BURDEN ON A COLLEGE RESUME
by Jenny Wolkowitz, Tips on Trips and Camps, St. Lous, MO
Community service programs have risen in popularity, chiefly in response to high school requirements for community service hours. As a teen summer trip advisor, I am often asked, “Will doing a community service project help me get into college?” This is an important question and one that is not easily answered.
No one activity will help get a student into college – not participating in a sport, taking an AP course, or doing community service. The admissions process is a complicated blend of criteria. They are looking for students who have diverse talents. Therefore, any summer experience is, in and of itself, not a vehicle for admission. No summer program is guaranteed to WOW admissions officers. They know that many students simply cannot afford these kinds of trips and it would be unfair to reject a candidate based on economic criteria.
However, while it is not guaranteed admission, in no way does a community service experience detract from a candidate’s profile. More critical is the personal growth that is realized from participating in meaningful community service. Students who participate in cross-cultural expeditions bring a rich understanding of different societies – differences that cannot be comprehended if they never leave their neighborhoods. Often these trips are life-altering experiences in a student’s life. If this is gained, a community service experience can be the stuff that great college essays are made of.
Schools look for students who want to be an active part of building a better community. They are looking for students who are socially responsible and willing to give back. They want students with good interpersonal skills and who care and are sensitive to others. Campuses are an enormous blend of students from around the world – all of whom bring different traditions, beliefs and spectrums of experiences.
Most importantly, students should participate in these programs to find out more about themselves – to explore new or existing interests and challenge themselves to move outside their comfort zone. These experiences offer opportunities that allow a student to begin to question opinions and values in ways that just can’t happen at home. The more you understand about yourself, the more you can understand and begin to accept others.
If you are looking for a return on your “investment” from your teen’s summer experience, a well-organized community service program may just be the best investment you could make. Service may not be an admission ticket to college but it certainly will help develop the importance of community participation. Cooperation, tolerance, determination, and experiencing the unknown are at the core of many summer programs. These are the same traits that ultimately make a person a success in college – and in every day life.
Tips on Trips and Camps is one of the oldest and largest camp advisory services. Established in 1971, “Tips” has advisors in 16 cities, relationships with over 600 sleep away camps and programs, and each year provides advice and guidance to thousands of families. The service is provided by phone, email and the website, which makes it available to anyone virtually anywhere. For more information and advice, to request brochures and DVDs, or to speak to a knowledgeable consultant, visit www.TipsonTripsandCamps.com.
Jenny Wolkowitz is the Midwest consultant for Tips on Trips and Camps and can be reached at (314) 432-8642 or jenny@TipsonTripsandCamps.com. Wolkowitz is married and the mother of 3 children. In her earlier years, she was a day camper, an overnight camper, a counselor, a teen tour participant and a teen tour leader. She studied abroad in college and has traveled extensively throughout the world. She serves on the boards of Nishmah, Solomon Schechter Day School and the Jewish Light