Community Service Isn't Just Words
by David Lazar
College Essay - Community service isn’t just words, but an opportunity in life to contribute one’s time to helping others and making a difference in society; and thus a better place to live for all. Throughout my years of school, I have been fortunate enough to see hands on, how sharing what I’ve learned in my life with others, makes a directly positive influence in their lives. Music and academics, along with my Christian faith, have always been at the forefront of my life and has educated and inspired me to enjoy serving in the community.
Throughout my years of school, I have increased my knowledge of music and have shared what I’ve learned by performing in the metropolitan Detroit area. I have had the opportunity to perform with different bands at Senior Citizen Homes for their holiday parties, awards banquets and summer picnics. Through school, I have learned how to prepare, set-up rehearsals, and organize music so that the event runs smoothly. The Seniors Citizens are always very appreciative and truly enjoy the experience. I have helped set up games, sing and dance with them and we all have a very good time. I am also the leader of our school’s Jazz Combo. We have performed not only at senior citizen events, but also at restaurants, churches, holiday and retirement parties, and various fundraisers. Additionally, I am a member of the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra, a youth program in Detroit. Through this venue, I’ve learned new ideas and techniques from the mentors, teachers and students that are from all different parts of out community; once again serving in the Detroit area through this group as well. In all these instances, if it wasn’t for my education, I would not have been able to donate my time.
However, as much as I love music, it’s not my only focus in my life. I have always aspired to have a career in the medical field. Academically, I have been working diligently to prepare myself for my future. By taking honors and AP classes now, it has already allowed me to do some community work with respect teaching. I have tutored younger students and helped them improve in their own studies. As I move forward in my life, I hope to attain knowledge in medicine and eventually become a doctor. Once again, as I educate myself in this new field, I hope to give back by serving in my community and perhaps different communities throughout the world.
I know serving in the community will always be part of my goal in life, whether it is musically, academically or my new venture of medicine. I have a lot to learn, but once I become more educated, I will also increase my ability to share what I’ve learned. Donating my time to a community is something I will always pursue, because sometimes people just need support and it’s what life is all about.
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by Allison Harvey
College Scholarship Essay Example - The word “amazing” is defined as “to overwhelm with surprise or sudden wonder; to astonish greatly, to bewilder,” and lastly, “to perplex”. In my opinion, however, the word is extremely overused. To me, something truly amazing takes your breath away or leaves you speechless. But who am I kidding; I say it all the time.
My trip though, my 8 day, 9 night trip to Appalachia, really changed my whole mind-set. I don’t know if it was seeing the faces of strangers light up as we finished tearing out their moldy, bug-infested flooring, or if it was installing insulation and painting their children’s bedroom, things they said they would never have been able to afford if it weren’t for us giving up our summers to work.
Or maybe it was Norma’s amazing story. Norma lives in a small trailer, her family depends on her husband’s salary as a mechanic, and she watches over 6 children ages 9 months to 12 years. Some of them are hers, and some of them are her oldest daughter’s. Her daughter made some bad choices and is unable to raise them, so Norma took on that responsibility.
A few years ago, Norma was diagnosed with Breast and Uterine Cancer. She prayed continuously for the Lord to cure her. When she walked into her first treatment, she told the nurse to re-scan her because she was certain the Lord had cured her. While the nurse protested, she respected Norma’s wish. Sure enough, after double and triple checking, the doctors could find no trace of Cancer still in her body. If that is not a testimony of faith then I don’t know what is.
Another family that touched me has 5 people, 4 cats and a dog in their small trailer. Their home was in desperate need of new flooring, a roof, and a front door; all things I take for granted. But it wasn’t the work that we did on their house that was really incredible. It was the personal relationships we developed with the family. John, the head of the household, didn’t show up until after lunchtime, as he had gone to a food pantry to receive handouts and had decided to stay and volunteer his time afterwards. When John arrived home, I helped him carry in groceries and he told me how the Lord is working in his life. A month prior, a friend of his had randomly invited him to church, so he went and prayed. A few weeks later, Appalachia Service Project showed up asking if they could fix his trailer free of charge. John told me that to him, volunteering was his way of giving back for all of the blessings he has received in his life.
The family also had two daughters, one going into 6th grade, Abby, and a two-year old, Lily, who could really wreak havoc. Since the 2 year old is in constant need of attention, it was easy to notice that Abby was desperate for her own spotlight and needed a friend. Even though I went to their house to give them a new bathroom floor, I left Abby with not only a new friendship, but she learned how to shuffle cards and play Miss Mary Mac, things she had always wanted to do. I enjoyed my time with Abby. We danced and sang like idiots to the Disney channel, we jumped on her trampoline for hours, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. She taught me that friendship and a smile can go a long way.
The difference between a foreign mission trip and a domestic mission trip is that while they provide political barriers to overcome, receiving help from other Americans inspires unity.
I will never forget the families we met. Their ability to open their arms to complete strangers regardless of our backgrounds is something truly beautiful. No prejudice, only love. They live their lives as if they were Jesus, and they don’t even realize it.
While I left Pike County, Kentucky with what seemed like 100 mosquito bites and a nice cowboy hat; Pike County left me with hope and a realization that it isn’t always the big things that matter, just as long as we have our family and friends by our sides. And to me, that is truly amazing.
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Admissions officers are looking more and more closely at extracurricular activities and leadership skills when evaluating college applicants. So, high school community service can be critical. But before you start accumulating hours for all sorts of miscellaneous things, know that college admissions staff are not just looking for a high number of hours. Community service needs to be the right kind of work and you need to be doing it for the right reasons.
Colleges put a premium on teen community service. They also like students who approach this work with passion and authenticity. Basically, this means a college wants to see that community service ties in with your passion, whether that interest is in sports, medicine, religion, or music. For example, a student who is sports-oriented could coach or start a team for underprivileged children.
Not surprisingly, the more selective a college or university, the more outstanding the volunteer work must be to make an impression. While there is no bad form of volunteer activity, some volunteer work gets more points than others. Here's how activities rank:
There is a great difference between organizing a can drive or just collecting cans. Collecting cans - or books, school supplies, clothes - would be considered low level. Typical volunteer jobs such as peer counselors, camp counselors, elementary tutors, and monthly soup-kitchen servers also generally register as low, unless you lead an effort or make a significant difference. Working to help poor residents in a foreign country for a short period of time also registers as low.
[Need some ideas to get you started? Here are 50 fun and creative community service ideas.]
Students who take a leadership role in community service can reach the medium-high level. For example, work with an organization that helps others by collecting donated items and then organize a donation drive to collect some of the most needed items. Or, be an officer in a club at school.
These are unusual service endeavors or those that required uncommon initiative. For instance, an Advanced Placement Spanish student or native Spanish speaker launches an evening English class for Spanish-speaking parents in the community. Or a Future Business Leader of America leader develops an educational app that improves student performance. Or a chess club president teaches the game to disadvantaged children and earns national recognition for the pilot program. If you can get recognition for service that extends beyond the school or local area, it always plays well with admission committees.
AND ONE MORE THING
You need to make sure admissions officers see your community-service activities so make sure they are listed in your application or attached to it as part of your high school resume. If you choose to write about community service in the college essay, make sure to mention what you learned from the experience. Reflect on the activity and discuss its impact and why it was important as a personal goal and to the community.