In my last post, my first tip for “getting scholarship fit” was to be able to demonstrate community service hours on your scholarship application.
Whether it’s tutoring, cleaning up a park, volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or starting your own project, scholarship providers love to give money to students who give back.
Case in point: me.
When I started applying for scholarships, I had zero community service hours. This not only limited my chances of winning scholarships, but it also limited the scholarships I actually could apply for.
I’d run across dozens of scholarships that required “a commitment to community service” (vague … I know), and I knew that I could never win them without community service hours. Thus, I started volunteering!
Within a few short months, I had over 100 hours of community service (I volunteered once a week for 3 months) and subsequently won over $19,000 in scholarships that required community service hours in order apply.
Making Volunteering Fun
Looking back, the hours were completely worth the effort, but at the time, I didn’t look forward to volunteering. I loved giving back; however, all of the activities were … well … either not fun (being a mathematics tutor), hard labor (building houses in the sweltering Miami heat), or beyond my physical capabilities as a desk monkey (running a race for charity).
I wanted to rack up hours and enjoy what I was doing—so, I got creative! While I don’t have a magic solution for your community service, I can throw out some ideas that helped me add hours while engaging in activities that I loved to do.
Hopefully, this quick list gets some of your own creative juices flowing!
1. Do Something On Campus
Community colleges and 4-year universities are usually pretty excited when a student wants to do an activity on campus. One thing you could do to earn community service (with a bonus dash of leadership) is to start a charity event on campus. For example, a race/walk/car wash to raise money for a cause you are passionate about would look great to a scholarship provider.
2. Do Something Related To Your Major
No matter your major, there is always a nonprofit organization that could use your (free) skills. Do a quick search on nonprofits in your area, and contact the ones that you are interested in to let them know you’d like to volunteer. That way, you get the bonus of doing work that truly interests you.
3. Do Something Online
Nowadays, you can do everything online—including volunteer work. A number of websites (Sparked, Volunteer Match, and UN Volunteers) connect volunteers with nonprofits looking for some Web-based help. This is a great alternative to traditional community service for those students who may be limited by other responsibilities.
Regardless of what kind of community service you do, make sure that you enjoy it! Yes, volunteering will increase your chances of winning scholarships, but you should also feel great that you are helping those in need in the process.
Do you have a creative idea for doing community service? Share it in the comments—it’s the philanthropic thing to do!