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According to a recent survey of college admissions leaders described in Forbes, 53% of admissions officials consider community service a tie-breaker in their admissions decisions. In other words, if two students have taken equally rigorous courses and have earned the same GPA and test scores, the student who is a long-time volunteer will be favored over the one who is not. That number jumps even higher at private universities, where 61% of admissions leaders consider service work to be a tie-breaking factor.
This means that potential college applicants should commit to a regular community service activity as early in your high school career as possible. Students should participate in community service at least once a month, although once a week is even more desirable. Please note that “travel trips” touting meaningful volunteer experiences do not count as community service for admissions purposes.
Of course, there are ample benefits to performing community service beyond its potential pay-off in the admissions process: it is personally fulfilling, it makes a meaningful impact in your local community, and it fosters empathy and awareness. But the possible admissions boost that Forbes describes is certainly a nice bonus.
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