Interview with Amanda Moon – International Scholarship & Tuition Services, Inc.

What should students focus on when presenting volunteer work in scholarship applications?
Be clear and specific.  General reflections on why community service is important are not what scholarship sponsors and selection committees are looking for – we want to know specific details about how and why you participated in a specific activity.

Do most scholarship programs emphasize community involvement in some capacity?
To some extent, whether it is actual service or involvement in extracurricular activities or employment experience.

Is it more common for programs to focus heavily on academic performance?
Pure academic performance as the main scholarship criteria is becoming less and less common.  With the vast number of college preparatory schools, it has become more difficult for students to distinguish themselves by grades and test scores alone. Additionally, grades can be highly subjective.

Are there types of service recognized more highly than others by scholarship providers?
Voluntary, self-initiated community service always looks better on an application than volunteering at the local hospital or business where a parent is employed or simply being a member of a club that works in the community.  If service is mandatory, due to either a court order or school requirement that a student must complete a certain number of service hours, showing that you’ve gone above and beyond what was necessary is essential.

What would be an average level of volunteer community service?
The average is around 100 hours for a high school senior. It often encompasses work at their school in roles such as a teacher’s assistant or at church as a youth leader or part of a music group.

 Can you offer any additional insight on the important milestones for students this time of year with regards to scholarship applications?
If you haven’t done any community service, start now.  If you are already involved, don’t quit.  Not only is it important for the community to have volunteers, it rarely bodes well when it seems the only reason you were involved was to have something to list on your scholarship or college application.