Elsewhere online
August 15, 2016

Admissions Offices Wary of Students Exaggerating Charity Work

College admissions officers and advocates for changing college entrance processes say they are concerned that many high-school students are doing brief stints of charity work to beef up their college applications, writes columnist Frank Bruni in The New York Times.

The charity work often comes in the from of brief “mission trips” to a third-world country in which students work on projects such as repairing a library or school — sometimes for as little as a week. Some report that affluent parents have even started paying to establish AIDS clinics or orphanages for their children to work in, Mr. Bruni writes. Students have even started their own nonprofits to demonstrate leadership skills, reports Mr. Bruni, showing that they can more efficiently tackle a problem bettern than many traditional charities. 

While many of such projects are undertaken with good intentions, Mr. Bruni writes that there’s a “potential to create strange habits and values in the students” by “telling them that success is a matter of superficial packaging and checking off the right boxes at the right time.” He writes that there are many opportunities to volunteer at home, adding that many admissions officers are simply looking for students who can reflect on their experiences meaningfully.