If you are planning to apply to business school, now is good time to get started - not just on test preparation, but on taking time to examine your community service activities. At most top b-schools, community service is virtually a requirement.
At the most competitive schools, community service and extracurricular activities frequently make the difference between who is accepted and rejected among otherwise competitive applicants.
What is community service?
Community service is defined as active participation in and assumption of responsibility for your community. This broad definition can include taking an active role in sports teams, professional organizations, alumni groups, religious institutions, literacy programs, political campaigns, environmental causes, fundraising for immigrant assistance groups. Community service should reflect your values and priorities.
Why is community service important?
Community service is important because:
It provides an opportunity for you to demonstrate attributes that you may not be able to reveal in the classroom or in your jobs: leadership, initiative, interpersonal skills, and the ability to handle responsibility. It expresses your willingness to contribute.
A foundational principle of admissions is - Past behavior predicts future behavior. To adcoms, a history of activism and participation shows that you will be an active participant in their student and alumni communities. If you have been passive in the past, they have no reason to assume you will be active in the future.
It indicates well-rounded personality.
Last minute community service
If I haven’t done community service until this point, won’t the adcoms see through my last-minute efforts as an admissions ploy? Don’t they want us to serve the community out of the goodness of our hearts and not simply to look good on an application?
Yes, the adcoms want community service to come from an innate desire to serve your community, but last-minute community service is still better than no community service at all.
There is no way to hide the fact that you only recently joined, so you need to focus on how this new experience has suddenly enriched your life. You can also talk about how your new volunteering stint had helped shaped your goals by adding a volunteerism angle to your long-term vision.