Staff Editorial: Requiring students to complete community service hours diminishes true meaning

Emily Brown, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: This is the staff editorial published in the February print issue of The Tiger Print. The opinions expressed in this column were voted on by the staff, with 19 members agreeing and 2 members disagreeing.

On almost every college application students are asked how many community service hours they have earned.
But how much does community service count towards college acceptance?
According to, not as much as it used to.
As surprising as it may seem, college admissions officers are aware of many schools’ mandatory community service requirements.
They are becoming more and more wary of the students who merely volunteer for the sake of college applications.
Unless the school you are applying to is highly selective and every correct punctuation adds to your chance of becoming the chosen one, community service isn’t going to make or break you.
So, why do colleges even ask for volunteer hours?
The word volunteer hints that the person volunteering should be doing it voluntarily — out of their own free will and heart. Not because they want to remain in a specific honor society or because they want to fluff up their college application.
Volunteering should be something personal, private. Something that in your heart, you can hold on to. Not something that after a few random hours here and there, you have a permission slip signed, and you are done for the rest of the school year.
Because when students start counting their community service hours, they are, in a way, being ‘paid’ for being kind, helpful and empathetic to others. What kind of people does that make us? That we have to be given an incentive to help others?
Every time a student brings a permission slip to a volunteer supervisor — often an adult who takes time out of their busy lives to help other people — what must they think of us?
That we are simply helping other people to help ourselves?
By perpetuating the idea that every single achievement needs to be recognized with a reward or written on every single application, are colleges taking away the meaning behind volunteering?
Since college admission officers have already confessed that volunteer hours count less in the admission process, colleges should stop asking for community service hours all together. Let the students find the pleasure of helping others on their own time.
For those who think that requiring community service truly aids the community, think about how many things now count as community service that really don’t better our community in any way. By promoting community service, we are, in fact, diminishing it.
Let students who volunteer treasure the memories, not because the community service hours helped get them into Stanford, but because they helped someone else.