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Thinking about graduate school? Don’t spend too much time volunteering

Dylan Dewit

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Illustration by Miles Huffman

I was talking to a student on campus recently who told me something interesting.

Their professor had told them that they shouldn’t worry too much about padding their resume with volunteer work, because the officials doing the review “don’t really care if you’re a good person or not.”

This, of course, was just a little dark humor, but there is some validity to it.

Volunteer work makes you an awesome person, and I feel confident to speculate that awesome people are more likely to be accepted into graduate programs.

Also, it’s always nice to have volunteer and community benefit activities under your belt for applications and scholarship inquiry.

But nothing sets you apart from your peers like real-life experience in your field of study.

Internships, research projects and jobs are the key to an outstanding graduate program application. They will also unquestionably make the difference when you begin applying for jobs in the future.

Yes, volunteering at an animal shelter makes you a really great person. But unless a pre-veterinary animal science major, you should put most of your effort toward seeking out internships in your field of study that will help you stand out from the crowd come application review time.

It’s the internships and jobs that are going to hold the most weight when it comes time to start applying for graduate school.

Plan accordingly.

Dylan de Wit can be reached at [email protected] or @DylanTdeWit on Twitter.

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Thinking about graduate school? Don’t spend too much time volunteering