Community Service: College Pleaser?
by Marshall Sloane on Friday, October 17th, 2014
In order to take a break from their fast-paced lives, Milton students like to participate in extracurricular, athletic, and weekend activities. Despite their busy schedules, these students gravitate to community service opportunities as a way to step outside the Milton bubble. However, in any high school setting where students must think not only of the present but also of their possible futures, one must question whether students actually use community service as a way to do good or just as a way to enhance their résumés. As an article from The New York Times on January 7th, 2011 states, “even the most altruistic applicant wants to know how community service looks to colleges.” As the college process picks up steam for the Class of 2015 and the Class of 2018 begins to ponder their future experiences at Milton, we all must think about how community service, despite having become a representation of our college-oriented thought processes, must mean more to us than just another activity to discuss on the Common App.
Without question, America’s top schools have become increasingly competitive, and students across the country and the world feel the pressure. The Boston Globe described in a March 5th article a scenario that might seem familiar for many students: that of Shridhar Singh, a Sharon resident, who built his life around college ever since he was in the 8th grade. Shridhar studied electrical engineering at Skidmore College, participated in mock trials at Columbia University, built apps at MIT, and helped screen patients for tuberculosis in Thailand, all with the intent of making himself more attractive to schools. This article further discusses how some parents spend $275 an hour to have college counselors outside of school who recommend the best ways for potential college students to orient their lives. In an increasingly competitive college process, more students try to find ways to push themselves in front of the competition.
At Milton Academy, according to Janice Brea, roughly 200 students participate in community service. The program offers many opportunities: school tutoring, playing bingo with seniors, or even working at an animal shelter. Without a doubt, Milton Academy’s community service program helps a multitude of organizations, people, and groups across the Greater Boston area. Many Milton Academy students participating in community service do so to help others; nevertheless, the program also attracts students trying to bolster their college application. Community service has evolved into an important aspect of many successful college applications. Students increasingly focusing on extracurriculars seek out leadership positions at clubs they might not be interested in or join more clubs just to say they are members.
Milton Academy students undeniably face the daunting prospect of deciding what to do after spending four years on campus. Many students orient their high school years around the college process and building an effective application. For any applicant, extracurriculars play a quintessential role, but all students must keep in mind that community service goes beyond appealing to college admissions officers. By focusing on the children we tutor, the seniors we entertain, or the animals we play with once, twice, or maybe even more often a week, we learn valuable lessons that impress colleges more than any statistic listed on an application.
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