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Published on March 23, 2021

By On Point Education Advisory

Social Service. Community Outreach. Socially Useful Productive Work. Community Engagement.

All of these different terms lead down the same road and refer to how you as an individual involve yourself with the “community” – a term that can be interpreted in many different ways. 

Your engagement with the immediate neighborhood or the larger community – either through giving time, effort, stimulating dialogue, or raising funds is of interest to those reading your application. With the 360 degrees approach to evaluating applications in countries like the US, such activities add another critical dimension to the applicant’s profile. Reading about the applicants’ social contributions gives admissions officers a peek into the individual’s values, ability to respect diversity, be empathetic, and work towards a shared purpose.

Many international and country-specific academic curriculums require a certain number of hours to be committed to service-learning as part of their graduating requirements. To help students fulfill this prerequisite, schools offer several opportunities from after-school teaching programs to environmental initiatives. While it’s great that your school has a host of service projects, one needs to caution against participating in a multitude of activities. Show depth instead of breadth. Better yet, try stepping out of your comfort zone. Take the initiative and develop an engagement that reflects your passion. Being proactive and entrepreneurial will go a long way in adding to YOUR STORY. When thinking about community outreach activities, reflect on what defines you. 

       1.What skills do you bring to the table?

      2.What are the issues that are important to you? 

      3.How can you APPLY your skills and ADDRESS these issues? 

A young girl who dreamt of becoming a social entrepreneur and promoting gender equality used her summer break to volunteer with  YELLOW STREETS, a Delhi-based NGO. This experience gave her insight into what makes a community-building project successful. At the end of her engagement, she recorded her learnings and developed a handbook listing the step-by-step process of setting up a community project, creating ripples much beyond her immediate circle.
Most NGOs welcome volunteers with open arms, whether for a few hours or longer-term engagements. If you are looking to start a project on your own, check out organizations like   Young Leaders for Active Citizenship  or  Tribes For Good . They provide opportunities for young changemakers and help you develop the skills required to make a positive impact.
Ready to make a difference? Are you looking to go beyond just visiting the homes and institutions? Look no further.  Connect  with ON POINT and get guidance on developing an innovative project that matches your interests with a cause you believe in.