Community service is a broad term that refers to any kind of volunteer work that is done in service of others. Community service does not need to be medically-related to be a valuable addition to your application, though it can be if that is what is of most interest to you.
Applicants to pre-medical and pre-dental programs are expected to accumulate somewhere around 200 hours of community service experience (the average for pre-medical applicants in the past couple of years, as recorded by the AAMC, has been around 400 hours). Admissions committees will typically only consider collegiate and post-collegiate service experiences as counting towards this hour total. High school experiences might be considered as adding value to an application, but only if the applicant continued to engage in that same opportunity following high school graduation.
One important thing to note is that committees prefer to see quality of experiences over quantity of experiences. It is optimal to be routinely engaged in a few endeavors over a long period of time, rather than to bounce around from experience to experience in order to boost your resume. Maintaining longitudinal commitments to your service opportunities showcases your authentic passion and will allow you to have something meaningful to discuss on your future applications. Keep in mind that connections you make with your supervisors or coordinators in this setting are important to build and keep so that you may later ask for a letter of recommendation for your application.
There are myriad ways to find volunteer opportunities, both on-campus and off-campus. In terms of on campus resources, we suggest exploring the Clubs + Organizations page on our website, as well as the On-Campus Resources page. Beyond the UConn community, we encourage you to explore opportunities in the surrounding town(s) and community, or within your hometown. Ask your fellow students and peers what they are involved in and how they found that experience. This is a great way to learn about what others are doing and how you might get involved in the same experience, or something similar. You are free to volunteer in whatever setting feels most interesting and fulfilling to you. This is not only a way to showcase your service orientation, but also a great way to show how you are a well-rounded person and candidate for health professional school.
Applicants are welcome to volunteer in health settings, such as at a local hospital, through the Red Cross or similar organization, or, more recently, at something like a Covid-19 testing or vaccination site. Our office has put together a Hospital Volunteering Guide that you can check out ways to engage in service in the healthcare field.
Applicants can also volunteer in other ways, perhaps spending time at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, tutoring or mentoring younger students, or working at a refugee or immigrant centers. There are myriad UConn clubs that facilitate these kinds of involvement—you can find them through UConntact and Student Activities.
Volunteer work can also be university-related; students can become involved in the Student Union Board of Governors, volunteer at the Spring Valley Student Farm, or participate in events like HuskyTHON.
We even encourage you to reflect upon how some of your hobbies can be viewed as a volunteer or service engagement. Are you the leader of a video gaming club? Do you create and produce your own podcast? Have you volunteered at your old high school for years as a gymnastics coach? All of these kinds of endeavors can be used as a way to show who you are as an applicant and why a school might potentially be interested in you as a candidate.
Examples of Service Experiences
The following list of service experiences are examples of what past pre-health students and applicants have engaged in. This information was compiled specifically from documents submitted by 2022 Cycle applicants.
- Hole in the Wall Gang Camp—Ashford, CT
- Foodshare—Bloomfield, CT
- Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl—Storrs, CT [or virtual]
- Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach—various, CT
- Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants—various, CT
- CT Responds [Connecticut Medical Reserve Corps]—various, CT
- Center for Medicare Advocacy—Mansfield, CT
- Integrated Refugees and Immigrant Services—New Haven, CT
- Mid Fairfield AIDS Project—Norwalk, CT
- Horizons CT—South Winham, CT
- CT STEM Academy—Wallingford, CT
- Covenant Soup Kitchen—Willimantic, CT
- Planned Parenthood – Willimantic Health Center—Willimantic, CT
- Holy Family Home and Shelter—Windham, CT
- Windham No Freeze—Windham, CT
- Habitat for Humanity—various
- Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)—various
- STEM Scouts—various/virtual
- Crisis Textline—virtual
- Paper Airplanes—virtual
- Telehealth Access for Seniors—virtual
- The Education Project—virtual
- The Trevor Project—virtual
- 7 Cups Foundation—virtual