Thursday, July 21, 2005

High Schoolers' Volunteer Hours More About Getting into the Right College

The Christian Science Monitor features a small opinion piece by Kevin Zhou, a high school student who takes a look at his own generation. In the piece, he shows how his peers try to pack as many volunteer and fundraising hours as possible on their resume. They do this not for altruism but to make sure a good college notices them. Readers can find the article here. He argues that the students are not necessarily uninterested in helping others; it is just that they are so caught up in the process that they worry more about packing the hours than the good that they actually may be doing. As an example, he writes:

"After the tsunami last winter, a group of students from my school decided to organize a fundraiser for the survivors of the catastrophe. While this appeared to be a noble endeavor, they told me that they decided to pursue this option as opposed to donating money to UNICEF or to the International Red Cross so that they could have one more thing to add to their resume."

I know this can sound harsh, but when you think about it, donating the money to a charity would likely be just as, if not more efficient, than setting up the activity. However, it does not look as glamorous on a college application to say you wrote a check to charity as it is to say you organized a fundraiser for a cause. The author argues that students should pursue good causes for good reasons. The article is well worth reading, especially by parents who may have a junior and/or senior going through the application treadmill. I think it puts at least a little bit of perspective out there.

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