Carrying out projects that impact the community is a relatively new trend in India. This comes from the US, where the idea of individual impact is more the norm and where top colleges are looking for students who have the enthusiasm and initiative to build something new – an idea, a company, a new bit of knowledge for the world — and for signs that the student is capable of doing so. Liberal arts colleges in India also attract students seeking a university environment that encourages such an approach. For students who want to build their own story, here is a guide:
This is the big thing everyone thinks they should do. But does that really affect your admission? Most students from India have done some kind of community service. One idea could be to create a curriculum to teach students in an NGO. This is something documentable to write about in your application and something meaningful to do over a period of time. Another option would be to set up a team and all volunteer their time for the NGO once a month. The idea is to do something concrete that you can learn from.
Why does a non-profit project help? A 2019 Forbes poll of 264 US college admissions officers found that 58% believed community service had a positive impact on a student’s acceptance into the institution. More importantly, 53% said community service was a deciding factor between equally qualified students.
Working with an NGO helps build relationships with leaders, and a letter of recommendation can enhance your application based on their credibility. It also helps demonstrate your teamwork and leadership skills, which most universities value. Taking on a volunteer project is also a testament to your passion and commitment; Qualities that no admissions office can ignore.
An easier and more doable task that will look great on your college application. If there’s a cause you care about, fundraising is a great way to make a contribution. You can start small by talking about it with your family and friends and slowly expand through various online crowdfunding sites available. You can also contact a company that supports a cause you are associated with and raise funds or conduct awareness-raising activities for them.
To start something
You can start a student organization in your school or community and do something meaningful for at least two years. This is very effective as it is like a legacy you are leaving. For example, you could start a mental health awareness club that hosts talks and events to let students know that help is available. Or a recycling initiative in your condo, or take care of neutering strays in your neighborhood. Working with seniors in entertainment, music, technical skills or even spending time is another highly valued initiative to explore.
blog or podcast
Start your own blog on Medium or WordPress. Or record a podcast on Anchor and post it on platforms like Spotify. However, this requires regularity and therefore you have to keep thinking about topics you want to write/speak about. You also need to research how to better engage your audience and attract more readers/listeners. Several student blogs have been picked up by magazines on Medium or other online blog portals. A successful blog/podcast on topics of youth interest such as fashion, relationship management, personal development or mental health can lead to the creation of a small community of followers, which creates opportunities for further fundraising initiatives or online events.
Conducting a research project demonstrates your interest in the topic and the depth of your knowledge. It also shows your ability to think differently and the originality of your thoughts. Research and projects also indicate psychological qualities such as patience, perseverance and curiosity to learn new things. It is an indicator of your creativity. You may need to figure out what topic you want to work on and then create an outline to get an idea of the area you want to focus on. Then find a guide or mentor who has some experience in this area. He/she not only guides your research path, but also introduces you to specialist areas that may otherwise be difficult to find. Also, the work must be published to affect your college application. All of this shows how good you are at completing work on a deadline and how good you are at organization. Also, publishing the work will help you build a relationship with others in the field.
With contributions by Kritika Malhotra and Kamalika Chowdhery.
The author is the Founder and CEO of Inomi Learning, a Gurugram-based careers and college consulting firm. [email protected]
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