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Articles / Applying to College / How Do I Tell Colleges About My Volunteering & Leadership Roles?

How Do I Tell Colleges About My Volunteering & Leadership Roles?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Sept. 17, 2017

Question: I have done some volunteering, how do I submit my records to colleges when applying? Also, if I am a club officer, how can I show that or tell that to the colleges?

College applications provide a place for you to list your most significant activities along with the opportunity to include the leadership roles you have held. This list will suffice for typical undertakings (including community service) and club-officer positions. But if any of your activities, positions, or duties are unique, you can use the “Additional Information" section of your application to elaborate, or you can submit a separate “Annotated Activities" list, which is a résumé that offers brief explanations of your various ventures, when these are not self-explanatory.


Colleges expect you to accurately self-report your activities and the time you've spent on them, but they definitely do not want you to send them certificates or other proof of your volunteer endeavors. Occasionally, college officials will “spot check" the veracity of applications by contacting a guidance counselor or even the specific organizations that a candidate has mentioned in order to confirm that the student truly did participate in these activities and for the stated amount of time. This sort of fact-checking is rare, but the bad karma that comes from fabricating activities or inflating leadership roles may not be. ;-)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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