Leadership and Service

Quality and depth of experience are far more valuable than a quantity of superficial activities.

Exceptional scholarship candidates have also pursued active leadership and service engagement. Like undergraduate research, activities such as volunteering, service-learning, etc. are exceedingly important because they suggest that you have pushed yourself and started to consider bigger problems in the world. Give yourself permission, especially as you move into your second year, to focus in on co- and extracurricular activities that are meaningful and not simply meant to ‘pad’ the resume. Often, national competitive scholarship review committees’ care as much about your potential contributions as a leader and in service, as they do about your academic history.  Be mindful and intentional about the activities that you choose to engage with while an undergraduate.  Make sure your activities make sense for you, are in keeping with your long term ambitions and that they provide you with possible opportunities to develop as a leader.  Your development as a leader and your service to your campus and the greater community indicate that you are becoming a socially engaged global citizen.

Note: It is no longer sufficient to remain ‘local’ in your service and leadership activities, at least not when it comes to developing your portfolio for nationally competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities.  Of course, you need to start somewhere: your home institution and campus communities are good places to begin.  But, remember that you will be competing at the national level and committees expect to see students who have taken the lead and sought out opportunities that challenge them to think outside the box and outside their own zip-code.

Finally, multiple internships at various places do not necessarily constitute leadership or service.

To learn more about engagement in service and leadership on campus and beyond, visit UChicago's: