Mr. Hoffman Shares About the Importance of Finding Time for Community Service

With every academic year that passes, more and more colleges are adding test-optional or test-flexible policies in order to de-emphasize the importance of standardized tests and attempt a more holistic evaluation of a student. As colleges and universities move away from placing a high importance on the SAT or ACT, each college creates its own set of admissions guidelines that evaluates a student's potential for success in college. 
From a concise, powerful college essay to glowing letters of recommendation, there are a variety of factors that colleges are looking for when selecting their incoming freshman class. Each college has a list of check marks that each student must have to gain entry to the university and the always present "community service" is usually one of the most important ones.
Most people all know the traditional choices when it comes to community service. From synagogues and churches to Boy Scouts and food pantries, all of these opportunities are great ways to showcase a student's selfless drive and willingness to help their greater community. But depending on your community and your student's own individual circumstances, these opportunities may not always be readily available for students. With various nighttime and weekend extracurricular commitments and activities, students' days and nights are more and more scheduled each year. So, what is there to do for a student who seeks out community service but might not have all the time or opportunity right at their fingertips?
The simple solution is to create opportunities for yourself within your day. If you have free time to seek out other opportunities on the weekend or at night, that is wonderful. But for the student who already has their day scheduled down to the minute or doesn't have the means to drive all over the surrounding area, you might consider some of the following service options.

  • Create service opportunities at your own school. Whether it is re-organizing books in the library, being a buddy to a Lower School student, or finding a project that needs to be completed, chances are you have a free period or two during the day that you could work on a service project. Not only does taking the initiative show leadership and impress colleges, but you are using the time you have readily available to put to good use.
  • Try to identify non-traditional opportunities within your daily routine. If you play hockey every night from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. and spend most of your time at the rink, you may want to see if your coach or the manager needs help with anything. College admissions representatives will be able to see that you are an involved member of the community and go beyond the required expectations. And since you already have this time built into your day, you are just making better use of it.
  • Look towards the future. Days off, spring break, and summertime are great times of the year to get involved in community service. It would be ideal to have service opportunities year-round, but sometimes the summer may be the only opportunity you have to volunteer for an extended time period. It's never too early to start planning a service trip to another part of the country or to find some time to service your local community in some way.

College admissions representatives spend 3-5 minutes on a student's application and have very specific items they are looking for. As the importance of standardized tests dwindles, community service continues to rise up the ranks. Whether you are in Grade 9 or Grade 11, prioritizing community service and finding the time for it will definitely help your chances of gaining entrance to your college of choice.
Woodlynde School is a private, co-ed college prep day school located in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that serves intelligent, talented students with learning differences in grades K - 12. Woodlynde provides a comprehensive, evidence-based Kindergartenelementarymiddle and high school program in a challenging yet nurturing environment for students with average to above average cognitive abilities (IQ) who have language- or math-based learning differences (such as Dyslexia, Dysgraphia or Dyscalculia), Executive Function Challenges, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or Auditory Processing Disorder. Even for those students without a diagnosed learning disability (LD), Woodlynde offers expert and caring teachers in small classroom settings that support academic success. Woodlynde School also offers a post-graduate (PG) program in partnership with Rosemont College as well as a regional Summer Camp for students who learn differently.