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Does Summer Volunteer Work Look Good on Your College Transcript?

Does Summer Volunteer Work Look Good on Your College Transcript?


Volunteering for the summer is a great way to help around your community while also giving yourself a leg up for your academic future. Volunteer work of all kinds looks awesome on a college transcript because, depending on the work involved, it makes you look engaged, focused, involved, and compassionate. It shows that you can put in effort for others while working hard to give something back to your surroundings, which college admissions will love, and future employers will find to be admirable qualities. 

It’s never too early to plan for your college education. Which means that, even if you’re too young to work a full-time job, you can still use volunteering as a competitive edge toward your college application. Most volunteer opportunities accept volunteers as young as 14, so get out there and get involved for the sake of your community as well as for the future of your education. 

What Kind of Volunteer Work Looks Best for College? 

Some colleges are more fickle with volunteer work than others, so some types of volunteer work will count more towards your applications at some colleges than they would at others. The trick is finding out what kind of volunteer work would be best suited for your choice in college. You can do that by calling the admissions offices of your prospective schools and asking questions about the dos and don’ts of the application process. Most admissions boards will appreciate the time and effort that you put into your research instead of blindly applying with what you think they would want to see. 

Need some ideas for volunteer work that makes an impact on both your community and your college applications? Read on for a few suggestions to rev your thought process. 

  • Find a program where you can spend time with someone in need, such as Adopt a Grandparent or Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. This kind of volunteer work builds empathy, compassion, and care within your community while also showcasing your respect and thoughtfulness for the well-being of others. You could change someone’s life by simply spending time getting to know them. 
  • Look for volunteer opportunities at your local food banks, homeless shelters, or soup kitchens. These places are always looking for help, and it’s a good way to showcase the kindness of your humanity again. 
  • If you’ve never considered yourself a people person, opt for animal shelters or boarding clinics instead. You can offer to clean kennels, play with and walk the dogs, and ensure that all animals are comfortable, clean, and well-cared for throughout their stay. 

Can You Continue Volunteer Work While Pursuing College Courses? 

Love being a volunteer? There’s no reason that you need to stop volunteering in order to pursue college courses. School and work are balancing acts, and volunteering counts as work. It’s a matter of finding your balance. 

You may have to take on a smaller courseload of college classes to continue your work as a volunteer. Or you may have to cut back a few days on your volunteer work to pursue larger college courseloads. In either case, it’s all about finding symmetry that works for you in your situation. 

Another way to balance college and volunteering would be to save volunteer work for the summertime. That’s the kind of work that summer breaks were made for. On the flip side, you could also simply scale back on your college courseload for the summer instead of stopping completely. That will allow you to focus more on your volunteer work while also moving ahead toward college graduation. 

Internships vs. Volunteer Work – What’s More Beneficial to Your Education? 

By definition, a volunteer dedicates their time voluntarily with no expectation for compensation or intentional learning experience. Whereas an intern dedicates their time and energy to specific career fields to better their professional skills and knowledge. 

Before college, volunteer work is more beneficial to the admissions process because you haven’t begun to delve into your career field. It looks great on a college application. However, after college begins, you could switch gears to an internship that would further your professional know-how and provide you with a “foot in the door” of the career of your choice. Internships will go on your resume for a future job, so it looks better on future career options instead of on college applications. 

Does Volunteer Work Count as an Internship? 

Typically, volunteer work doesn’t count as an internship. However, if your volunteer work is in the career field of your choice, it could become an internship. Talk to the person in charge of your volunteering to see if it could evolve into a more serious role after you’ve been accepted into college. Finding volunteer work that fits into your career path can be challenging but not impossible, so keep an eye out for opportunities that allow you to move forward with a professional internship. 

Side note: While most volunteer opportunities require an age of 14 or higher, most internships require 18 years or older. 

Are There Paid Internships for College Students? 

Paid internships are opportunities for college students to join the workforce in their career field at base levels. They are paid less than would be considered minimum as a newbie in their career fields, but the internship equips them with the knowledge required for prospective jobs. 

Tech, for instance, is one of the most well-paid career fields for college student internships. It’s an evergreen career field, which means there’s never anything to do or nothing new to learn. Hence, college student interns could earn upwards of $8,000 per month, which is the base for technical jobs with major companies like Facebook or Instagram. 

When it comes time to either apply for colleges or bolster your current college transcript, volunteer work is an opportunity that continues to give throughout the summer. It is likely no shortage of volunteer opportunities in your community, so get involved. Find something that you would love to do for a few months and commit to helping others learn and grow within your city. 

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