Giving Back Will Get You In: Volunteer Projects that Look Great On College Applications
“Keep your grades up if you want to get into college!”
How many times have you heard that from your parents, your teachers, or your guidance counselor? And sure, you know that you need decent grades to get into your top schools, but things haven’t exactly gone your way on that front.
Between balancing school, friends, work, and extracurricular activities, it’s challenging to put in all the time you need to keep your grades up. Never mind the fact that sometimes, you just struggle with the content — keeping all of those Civil War battles straight can be tough!
Still, regardless of whether you can rattle off facts about the Battle of Gettysburg or solve quadratic equations in your sleep or not, college admissions committees will look at your grades as one of the determining factors of how successful you might be in college.
What to Do About Bad Grades
Some trends and “blips” on your transcript can be easily explained. One bad class or a poor semester is usually overlooked, especially when you can provide a logical explanation and show improvement. An overall pattern of poor performance, though, might raise red flags and reduce your chances at admission.
That being said, your grades are not the only factor that admissions committees consider when evaluating applications. Almost every school in the country wants to admit students who are well rounded and accomplished in many areas. So with that in mind, while keeping your grades up should be your first priority, there are some ways you can improve your application and impress admissions committees even if you don’t have a 4.0 GPA.
One of the best things you can add to your application is volunteer experience, especially if you design and complete a volunteer project on your own. In fact, there are a number of volunteer projects you can do that will make a difference both to the people (or animals) you serve AND your college prospects.
Start a Donation Drive
Have you ever seen the classic flick “Clueless?” In the movie, the heroine Cher tries to boost her grade in civics by organizing a donation drive for the victims of a natural disaster. Take a page from her book and rally your classmates to clean out their closets, basements, and attics and donate old or unwanted items to charity.
You can even get the parents involved to donate items that are more valuable; for example, you could contact a Florida boat donation center and arrange for families to get rid of the barnacle barges taking up space in their yards.
If you don’t want to sort through piles of random stuff, try organizing a drive focused on a particular need. Food, toys, books, cold weather gear, and baby supplies are always in demand by shelters, food banks, and other organizations, so find one that that you feel passionate about and bring everyone together to help.
Build a Better Future
Want to really get your hands dirty? Getting out and participating in a building project (like Habitat for Humanity) or organizing a community clean up allows you to give back and see the fruits of your labor right away.
Can you help with a community garden or work with a team to spruce up a playground? Consider volunteering with a local garden or arboretum or work at a local farm. These organizations always have plenty of work to do, and may be happy to have an extra set of hands to help pull weeds and water plants.
Get a Jump Start on Your Career
One way to get the most from your volunteer experience is to choose something that’s related to your life goals. Not only will you have the opportunity to give back, but you can gain experience that may come in handy down the road, and show a college admissions committee that you’re serious about what you want to study and do with your degree.
Hospitals, nursing homes, summer camps, animal shelters, and charitable organizations are always looking for people to help with everything from reading to patients and leading craft projects to helping out with fundraisers. Even if you aren’t sure what you want to do when you graduate from college, spending time working in a place like a hospital might inspire you — or at least tell you what you don’t want to do.
So while your grades are certainly important to your college application, a few less than perfect marks probably aren’t going to hold you back, especially if you have other experience and can show a commitment to helping others and learning outside of the classroom.
The article is provided by Boat Angel.