The truth? My now four year old will be able to go to whichever college she chooses after she graduates high school. I would never tell her where to apply, but . . . I am rooting and prepping her for the University of Notre Dame. The fact that I’m a diehard Fighting Irish fan has nothing to do with it. Ok, maybe that has a little to do with it, but like all mamas, I want my kid to have the best education(s). And it involves so much more than just being a loyal student and having good grades (and a big bank account for them Ivy Leagues).
Sports are an obvious extra-circular activity that colleges will take notice of, and for many talented athletes this becomes their reality. But not everyone can play sports (or afford sports). So let’s talk about another teenage resume stronghold that parents and students alike often overlook: volunteering. Anyone can do it, and it’s an important part of the admissions vetting process as any. Here’s why:
Yes, volunteering shows that your child is involved in the community. And that is very important. But it also shows compassion, leadership, loyalty, and sacrifice. It shows time management skills and it probably relates to something of major appeal to your child’s personal life or future career interest thus showing their growth in that sector. But more than anything it’s the right thing to do when you’ve been given so much to be thankful for and doing the right thing/giving back is an impressive skill that not many make the time to strengthen.
Because I have always had a passion for philanthropy and volunteerism all my adult life, my daughter by default accompanies me on many (most!) of my volunteer events and she really enjoys it. Her favorite is our monthly volunteer gig for Art Scene where she helps me with picture taking (sometimes even with a real camera and not just her princess toy camera) and talking to the artists about their work and what it means to them. She wants to be an artist someday too (I suppose we won’t be sending her to Notre Dame for that) so I wanted to surround her with people and events that are part of her personality and passion. We have volunteered for festivals and school functions before, and when she is old enough she will probably want to help at soup kitchens, marathon races, and working with shelter animals because she also enjoys learning to cook, running with her daddy, and cats. Of course, the cats. She wants to save ALL THE CATS!
So, mamas? Look beyond the swamped schedules we fill with needs, work, sports, and general busyness. Become a family of Volunteers! It doesn’t take as much time as you think and it will enrich your whole family. You also will be opening up your child to a whole new world of opportunity to not only build a network at a young age but explore new places.
It definitely makes my mama heart happy to see my 4 year old putting herself out there and trying really hard to make a small difference in someone’s day plus her courage has just blossomed thanks to volunteering. Ever since moving to Tennessee, nicknamed the “Volunteer State”, it just made sense that we do our part and do it as a family for more bonding time. We choose events that work with our schedules and that interest us and it just constantly lifts our spirits. It has also helped us learn all about our new home and our surroundings.
Lastly, I feel confident that by the time she does have to send in those college admission essays it will work in her favor that she’s been a volunteer for 15 years already, and that her first preschool picture ever taken was with her in a Notre Dame dress, so… yah. That’s getting paper-clipped to the application as well.
Can’t blame a mama for trying, right?