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Holistic Review: Volunteering, Community Service, and LOR

If you are a high school student who is preparing to apply for college, test scores and GPAs are not the only things you should be focused on. Of course, those two things are important but admissions also have to perform a holistic review on your entire application. This means that you get the opportunity to show who you are as a person rather than being represented solely based on your grades. A holistic review is extremely crucial for students who may be applying to competitive schools or for kids who may not have the strongest test scores or the strongest GPA. Now let’s get into how you can prepare your application.

What exactly do I need in order to make my application stand out?

Firstly, you will most likely have to submit a personal statement plus a certain amount of supplement questions, depending on the university/college you choose to apply to. This is super important for your application. Your essays will give admissions a way to hear the voice of your application and understand who you are as a person.

Next, there are extracurriculars for your resume. If you are currently a freshman or sophomore in high school don’t think it is too early to start preparing, start now! You will have from freshman year until the end of junior year to really build up your resume before applying to schools, so take advantage of the time you have before it runs out. There are many different extracurriculars you can do through your high school or finding things outside of school, like volunteering. Keep in mind that you must have a certain amount of volunteering hours either way if you are thinking of applying for Bright Futures. It is important to do things you enjoy and are passionate about. For example, if you are or were a Boy Scout/ Girl Scout that is something you can definitely include in your resume that will help show admissions your strength and determination, and if you received any awards make sure to include that as well!! If you are already knowledgeable on what path you may want to pursue in college it is important to have extracurriculars that may line up with that. For example, if you are interested in nursing, trying to volunteer or find internships related to this would be very helpful on your application. There are millions of different things you can volunteer for but here are a couple of well-known organizations near you!

Volunteer opportunities

When should you start your volunteering/community service hours?

As said before, it is extremely important to start your volunteering and community service hours as early as possible. Starting from freshman year will have you fully ready and prepared when applying to schools your senior year. You also do not want to end up overdoing yourself with different extracurriculars junior year all because you decided to wait until then.

How do colleges review community service/volunteering?

Colleges get the opportunity to see things that you have participated in that show your responsibility, time, and effort that was put in outside of the classroom. It also gives admissions a good sense of what you are interested/passionate about and shows how capable you are of doing certain tasks and/or activities.

Lastly, you will need a certain amount of letters of recommendation for each school you apply to. You may use the same letters of rec on each application. Letters of recommendation are super important because it gives admissions the opportunity to see how you are academically and in school and get an idea of what you may have to offer to their university. Make sure you ask your teachers at the end of your junior year in order to give them enough time to write a well-thought-out letter. When asking your teachers try to receive letters of recommendation from teachers who relate to the path you may want to take in college. For example, if you declare a major and choose to pursue engineering it would strengthen your application greatly if you receive a letter from your physics teacher and/or any math teacher you have had in the past. All of those things will be the main part of your application that will help admissions perform their holistic view. If you are worried about not having the right grades or testing scores or you are applying to highly competitive schools, push yourself to really focus on what your application looks like as a whole and how you may guarantee an acceptance.

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