Community Service: Just How Important is it When it Comes to Obtaining Scholarships?

One word comes to mind when asked that question: “Indispensable.”  If there is a single piece of useful advice that can be given when it comes to obtaining college scholarships it is that there is no such thing as too much community service.  Scholarship foundations and organizations want to know that its recipients have given back to their respective community and given back substantially. The importance community service plays in the scholarship selection process CANNOT be over-emphasized! An applicant can have the highest grade point average (“GPA”), but if a scholarship donor(s) does not see evidence that the applicant has learned the value and lesson in “giving back,” they are substantially less inclined to bestow an award to  that particular applicant (high GPA notwithstanding). It is absolutely imperative that prospective scholarship applicants demonstrate active commitment to their community as illustrated by their participation in community service projects and activities.

In addition to the community service requirement(s) that many states and school districts impose as a condition of  graduation, applicants for scholarships should consistently seek out community service opportunities above and beyond what their particular school district and/or state requirements dictate and for the right reasons.  Aside from being simply a means to obtaining a much needed scholarship, community service is a  mechanism by which students can help others in their communities who are less fortunate and perhaps undergoing a particularly challenging time.  In this regard, it is the single best vehicle for playing an instrumental role in seeing your community (which can, and should, include the larger “global” community) thrive.

Students and their parents should plan, at the very latest, to seek out community service activities while in middle or junior high school.  This gets both parents and the students into a practice and habit that should, hopefully,  continue well beyond their approaching high school years. Because many scholarship organizations require evidence of community service participation, students should keep a folder for their community service verification documents in a secure location, readily available, should they be required to submit the same. Additionally, since virtually all scholarship donors require a description of an applicant’s community service activities, a readily available folder, which contains that very information, at a most critical juncture, is indispensable. A simple manila folder will suffice.
In summation, prospective college scholarship applicants should “give back” and give back “ten-fold!” Remember, community service participation should not be simply a “means to an end;” a way to secure a scholarship award. Rather, community service participation should be viewed as a life-long commitment to the very principles that make a community a place in which we want to live!