She is the former associate dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania and the former dean of admissions and financial aid at Franklin & Marshall College.
Sara’s philosophy is that every kid applying to college deserves the best advice.
It is a good reminder that service work is more about "giving" than "receiving." And those students who recognize this tend to volunteer for all the right reasons in the end.
Sara Harberson is the founder of Sara Harberson.com, which provides personalized advice to college applicants and their families, and Admissions Revolution.com, a free, on demand video membership that demystifies college admissions.
Here's how activities rank: There is a great difference between organizing a can drive or just collecting cans.
Collecting cans - or books, school supplies, clothes - would be considered low level.
Typical volunteer jobs such as peer counselors, camp counselors, elementary tutors, and monthly soup-kitchen servers also generally register as low, unless you lead an effort or make a significant difference.
Working to help poor residents in a foreign country for a short period of time also registers as low.
Admissions officers are looking more and more closely at extracurricular activities and leadership skills when evaluating college applicants. But before you start accumulating hours for all sorts of miscellaneous things, know that college admissions staff are not just looking for a high number of hours.
Community service needs to be the right kind of work and you need to be doing it for the right reasons. They also like students who approach this work with passion and authenticity.