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Attending a good college or university is the first step to having a successful career. Those students who attend college have a higher chance of landing a good job and succeeding in the workforce.

To gain acceptance to a top United States college or university is an arduous process that includes having strong standardized test scores, completion of AP classes, and good grades. Extracurricular activities such as sports, club involvement, community volunteer work, and a special focus on arts and sciences are also important.

But how important are these extracurricular activities to college admissions counselors? Community service ranked number four in importance of factors considered for admission—above reference letters, interviews, and legacy. Grades, AP classes, and standardized test scores ranked above community service.

The Community Service and College Admissions Survey, conducted in partnership with Fastweb and sponsored by Chase, interviewed admissions officers from 32 of U.S. News & World Report’s top 50 colleges and universities to identify the most important criteria of a strong college applicant.

Nancy Lublin, CEO of, noted, “Consistency is the new trend here. Students who support one cause over time show commitment and perseverance, both of which are stellar traits for potential co-eds.”

The vast majority of admissions counselors—72 percent—prefer that students be consistently involved with one issue instead of a variety of causes.

“Admissions officers want well-rounded applicants who take their studies seriously, are engaged in a cause or two they are passionate about, and are involved in extracurricular activities like the school newspaper,” says James Elbaor, head of special projects at “They don’t want someone exclusively focused on community service just like they don’t want someone solely focused on the school newspaper.”

Another factor that schools take into consideration is a student’s “good citizenship,” a skill developed in service activities. Admissions counselors, 76 percent, felt that a student’s leadership ability played a critical role in the student’s ability to get into college.

Not surprisingly, those qualities that make a good job applicant today are the same ones that colleges seek in their student applicants.

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