Beyond Athletics

3 Easy Ways You Can Improve Your College Application This Summer

volunteering is one way you can improve your college application

(Flickr – State Farm)

While you’re getting ahead on your academics and recruiting this summer, athletes, I want to make sure you’re also preparing college application to be the best it can be. After all, in some schools — like the Ivy League — coaches can make recommendations to the admissions office, but can’t ultimately change whether you’ll get into a school or not.

One other way you can improve your college application this summer is by giving back. While we clearly love to talk sports and recruiting – it’s pretty much our favorite thing – our number one core value and belief as a team is that nothing else matters in sports or in life if you aren’t using your skills, resources, time, and heart to help those around you and support the people and places that helped you get ahead.

Does the give back mean making it big and donating millions to your alma mater like Drew Brees? For most of us, probably not. While the story I just linked to is an amazing contribution by the NFL star, who’s also known for his community service and philanthropy, it’s a dollar amount the majority of us don’t have at our finger tips.

However, we can all relate and emulate what is at the root of his $1 million contribution: giving back to the place where he earned his degree, a place that shaped him, a place that he wants to see succeed because it help him succeed. Check out these examples of simple ways you can give back this summer, either with friends or on your own. Where there’s a will, a want to lead, and a drive to do good, there’s always a way.

Give back to the sport you love.

I don’t mean a season-long commitment. I mean calling up your former grade school or local youth league and asking if there’s a coach you could get in touch with regarding helping at a practice or two. I did this every summer in high school and it was a total riot watching 8-year-old soccer practice.

The best part? The kids will be SO EXCITED you are there.

And their coach – who is also a volunteer, will be forever thankful. (If you’re already a college athlete? Head to your former high school for a practice or two this summer. It will be SUCH a motivator for current athletes to see someone who came from the same place and who’s at the next level, and taking the time to give back.

A personal life goal: Taking it to Dee Brown’s level.

Help an elderly neighbor.

This is super-easy because it doesn’t require signing up for anything or transportation anywhere. Draft a short note to a neighbor you know could use some help – my first instinct is an elderly neighbor, but even a young neighbor with three young kids, two dogs, and no free time would be an awesome candidate. Introduce yourself, (or simply greet them if you already know them), and offer to mow their lawn, water their plants, refill their bird feeders, just to lend a hand around the neighborhoods this summer. They will be more than happy to help you by letting you help them, and it will feel really great to do.

Find an organization doing good.

There are thousands of formal organizations out there who will help you find a volunteer opportunity. You could start by checking out DoSomething.org, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Special Olympics, along with local food banks and homeless centers in your area.

Document everything.

Doing good in your community is its own reward, but I started this off by talking about ways you can improve your college application. So as you’re helping out this summer, make sure you follow some simple steps:

  • Document the hours you’re working at any position so you can list it as an activity on your application.
  • Keep in touch with any coaches, supervisors or individuals you’ve helped; they could be a great character reference who could give back to you in turn by commenting on your character.
  • Write down observations and feelings you have in a journal or Tumblr or your phone’s Notes app; they’ll come in handy when you’re writing personal essay.

Our scouts can talk to you about your personal journey to playing your sport at the next level and how you can improve your application. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.