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Jobs vs. volunteering: which is best?

There are many ways to make a student resumé look more impressive to college admissions staff. Some students take Advanced Placement (AP) classes, while some participate in sports and school activities. Listing out any work experience or volunteer work can also show a candidate to be a well-rounded and responsible individual. It’s important to remember balance though. Being an overachiever is great but it can lead to burnout, so students need to pick and choose their activities carefully. So, in terms of extracurricular activities, which resonates more—jobs or volunteer work?


When it comes to working in high school, it’s not necessary for your student to earn their dream job. In fact, any experience looks good on a resumé. It demonstrates responsibility and punctuality; qualities that will help your student succeed in college (and so are attractive to admissions officers). In addition, it offers the chance to earn some spending money or start to build some savings.  

If a summer position can’t be found, an internship is another great way to get experience and network. Whether paid or unpaid, an internship (especially in a specific field related to the student’s interest) can give a leg-up on later job competition and shows colleges that the student is future-oriented and planning ahead. Depending on where you live and what your student’s interest is in, finding the right internship may be difficult, but it’s certainly a worthwhile way to spend a summer.

Volunteer work

For some students, volunteering for a cause close to their heart may be more attractive

Volunteer work can help connect people to their community and encourage personal growth and empathy. Though it doesn’t come with a monetary award, people can gain just as much value from volunteer work as they could from a typical summer job, both in terms of experience and personal sense of reward. It can also show college acceptance boards that a student is involved, organized and interested in their position as a global citizen. Showing interest in the world around them and actively making it a better place can send a student’s application to the top of the pile.


When it comes to comparing jobs against volunteer work, there is no clear winner. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both look great on a college resumé. It really comes down to what is best for your student in terms of their interests and priorities.


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