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The impact of community service – a deep dive into the power of giving back to society.

Community service essay

Community service essays serve as a powerful tool for individuals to reflect on their experiences, values, and impact on the world around them. Through the process of writing about their volunteer work, students are able to articulate the positive changes they have made in their communities and explore the lessons they have learned along the way.

Community service essays also play a crucial role in highlighting the importance of giving back to society and fostering a sense of empathy and compassion in individuals. By sharing personal stories of service, students can inspire others to get involved and make a difference in their own communities.

Moreover, community service essays can help students gain valuable skills such as critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving, as they reflect on the challenges and successes of their volunteer experiences. By documenting their service work, students can also showcase their commitment to social responsibility and community engagement to colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers.

Why Community Service Essays Matter

In today’s society, the importance of community service essays cannot be overstated. These essays serve as a platform for individuals to showcase their dedication to helping others and making a positive impact on their communities. Through these essays, individuals can share their experiences, insights, and perspectives on the value of giving back to society.

Community service essays also play a crucial role in raising awareness about different social issues and encouraging others to get involved in volunteer work. By sharing personal stories and reflections, individuals can inspire and motivate others to take action and contribute to the betterment of society.

Furthermore, community service essays provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their own values, beliefs, and goals. Through the process of writing these essays, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their place in the world, leading to personal growth and development.

In conclusion, community service essays matter because they have the power to inspire change, raise awareness, and promote personal growth. By sharing their stories and insights, individuals can make a difference in their communities and create a more compassionate and giving society.

The Impact of Community Service Essays

Community service essays have a profound impact on both the individuals writing them and the communities they serve. These essays serve as a platform for students to reflect on their experiences and articulate the lessons they have learned through their service work.

One of the primary impacts of community service essays is the opportunity for self-reflection. Students are encouraged to critically analyze their experiences, challenges, and accomplishments during their community service activities. This reflection helps students develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their values, and their role in the community.

Another significant impact of community service essays is the awareness they raise about social issues and community needs. By sharing their stories and insights, students can shed light on important issues and inspire others to get involved in community service. These essays can also help community organizations and stakeholders better understand the needs of their communities and how they can address them effectively.

Overall, community service essays play a vital role in promoting social responsibility, empathy, and civic engagement. They empower students to make a positive impact in their communities and contribute to creating a more compassionate and inclusive society.

Guidelines for Writing Community Service Essays

When writing a community service essay, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure that your message is clear and impactful. Here are some tips to help you craft a powerful and compelling essay:

  • Start by brainstorming ideas and reflecting on your community service experiences.
  • Clearly define the purpose of your essay and what you hope to convey to your readers.
  • Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
  • Use specific examples and anecdotes to support your points and showcase your personal growth.
  • Highlight the impact of your community service activities on both yourself and others.
  • Showcase your passion and dedication to serving your community.
  • Be authentic and honest in your writing, and avoid exaggerating or embellishing your experiences.
  • Edit and proofread your essay carefully to ensure clarity, coherence, and proper grammar.

Examples of Effective Community Service Essays

Examples of Effective Community Service Essays

Community service essays can have a powerful impact on the reader when they are well-written and thoughtful. Here are a few examples to inspire you:

1. A Well-Structured Essay:

This essay begins with a compelling introduction that clearly articulates the author’s motivation for engaging in community service. The body paragraphs provide specific examples of the author’s experiences and the impact they had on both the community and themselves. The conclusion ties everything together, reflecting on the lessons learned and the importance of giving back.

2. Personal Reflection:

This essay delves deep into the author’s personal experiences during their community service work. It explores the challenges they faced, the emotions they encountered, and the growth they underwent. By sharing vulnerable moments and candid reflections, the author creates a connection with the reader and demonstrates the transformational power of service.

3. Future Goals and Impact:

This essay not only discusses past community service experiences but also looks toward the future. The author shares their aspirations for continued service and outlines how they plan to make a difference in the world. By showcasing a sense of purpose and vision, this essay inspires the reader to consider their own potential for impact.

These examples illustrate how community service essays can be effective tools for conveying meaningful stories, inspiring others, and showcasing personal growth. By crafting a compelling narrative and reflecting on the significance of service, you can create an essay that leaves a lasting impression.

How Community Service Essays Empower Individuals

Community service essays provide individuals with a platform to express their thoughts, share their experiences, and make a meaningful impact on society. By writing about their volunteer work and the lessons they have learned, individuals can empower themselves to create positive change and inspire others to do the same.

  • Through community service essays, individuals can reflect on the importance of giving back to their communities and the value of helping those in need.
  • These essays can serve as a source of motivation and inspiration for individuals to continue their philanthropic efforts and make a difference in the world.
  • By sharing their stories through community service essays, individuals can raise awareness about social issues and promote greater empathy and understanding among their peers.

Overall, community service essays empower individuals to take action, advocate for change, and contribute to building a more compassionate and equitable society.

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How to build community and why it matters so much.

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Community is critical to our health and wellbeing.

You’re feeling the effects of the pandemic, quarantines and social isolation acutely. You’re missing your people, your network and your community. Sure, you’ve stayed in touch with those with whom you’re closest, but your more distant ties are diminishing, disappearing or declining.

Community is critical to our overall wellbeing and the decline of our connectedness is coming at the same time mental health issues are on the rise. In a study by Queen’s University, 27% of people said they were suffering from loneliness, and research from Washington State University found all ages suffer from social anxiety and FOMO (fear of missing out) which are correlated with low self-esteem and low self-compassion. In addition, a newly-published study by the University of Houston showed the mental health effects of the pandemic will be both long lasting and potentially devastating.

We are social animals and our instinct is to find strength in numbers. We appreciate a small circle of people, but need larger circles as well. Our health and happiness are inextricably linked with our connections.

Yet despite the sweeping effects of the pandemic, we can strengthen and sustain community. You can have impact as an individual, and as a leader.

Strong communities have a significant sense of purpose. People’s roles have meaning in the bigger picture of the community and each member of the group understands how their work connects to others’ and adds value to the whole. As members of community, people don’t just want to lay bricks, they want to build a cathedral.

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Build your community by keeping your purpose in mind and reminding yourself of how your contribution matters. You’re a great parent, aunt or uncle, and you’re having a meaningful impact on children’s learning. Or you’re participating on a key project which will affect the user experience for your company’s customers. Or you’re processing payments at a university where students will get their start toward their life goals. Even everyday contributions matter to the community as a whole.

As a leader , provide people with vision and line of sight so they are crystal clear about the broader purpose of the organization and how their work fits into the whole. Also give them a sense of business literacy so they understand context and know how they can be proactive and make an impact. Taking these actions will give individuals a better experience, and also strengthen the overall community.

When we are part of a thriving community, we feel a sense of kinship, camaraderie and connectedness. There is a place and a role for each person, and group members feel they can bring all of themselves to their work and their team. There are high levels of trust and psychological safety in which people know others will have their backs and will give them not only the benefit of the doubt, but the space to apply their talents and develop new ones. Within a strong community, people feel valued and all work has dignity. In addition, the needs of each member and the needs of the whole organization are fully met. As Plato said, “The part cannot be well unless the whole is well.” Communities take care of their members and vice versa—because they are invested in the collective success of the group.

The strength of our bonds matters too. A just-published study by Ohio State University found people feel more supported when their networks are more tightly knit. In other words, when your own connections know each other, you’re more likely to feel supported.

Build your community by staying in touch with people—even if you have to accomplish it virtually. Invest time and energy in maintaining your bonds. Send a quick note to someone you haven’t seen in a while or call a more distant acquaintance. While making a phone call may seem very yesterday, a new study by the University of Texas Austin found voice calls can create stronger bonds than text messages.

Also, demonstrate compassion and help others feel a sense of belonging . New findings published in the Journal of Neuroscience found people made better decisions when they considered others. After yoga, invite a new attendee to have a physically-distanced coffee with your core group, or ask for input from a colleague on your project. People appreciate being welcomed and valued. The sense of belonging you extend strengthens the whole.

As a leader , hold regular one-on-ones with your staff members. Have frequent meetings with your team so you can coordinate tasks and ensure people are making meaningful connections. Encourage team members to pull each other in, obtain feedback and work through tough challenges together. Encourage people to build their social capital—their relationship ties (think: webbing) across organizations. Social capital is positive for people because it provides the opportunity for growth, learning and advice. And it is good for organizations because social capital helps people get work done more effectively and efficiently.

Strong communities are always evolving. They aren’t immune from tough circumstances, instead they adapt and become stronger as they cope together. The most effective communities support members who take risks, try new things and go out on limbs to create and innovate. Effective communities also embrace conflict and diversity—working through differences of opinion and making space for civil discourse and the learning that occurs from appreciating multiple points of view.

New research published in The Economic Journal found the most novel, disruptive innovations, and those which linked technologies across and between fields were most likely to arise within cities. This was because the networks in cities were denser—with more people exchanging ideas and testing new thinking across social and professional groups.

Build your community by seeking new learning and stretching your own skills. When people within communities are continually developing, the communities themselves progress as well. Help members of your group who are struggling by encouraging plenty of expression, especially from those with fresh or novel opinions. Innovation often comes from the edges— previously untested, untried or unpopular ideas.

As a leader , encourage career growth and support people if they try something new and fail. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. If you’re not seeing some mistakes or missteps, your team may not be reaching high enough. When work is stellar, recognize it. Also hold people accountable for performance, while also making room for team members to stretch.

We are craving community and cannot live our best lives without it. Our mental health and our physical health literally depend on being part of strong and capable communities. Remind yourself how much you matter, and take action to strengthen and sustain your community.

Tracy Brower, PhD

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Commitment to Community: Building Stronger Bonds

Table of contents, the essence of community commitment, benefits of community commitment, actively fostering a sense of belonging, empowering positive change, long-term vision and sustainability, conclusion: nurturing community spirit.

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What Is Community, and Why Is It Important?

In 2005, the Center asked several people whose work involves community building this simple question, and got some not-so-simple answers.

Riché C. Zamor, Executive Director, Latin American Health Institute, Boston

To me a community is a group of individuals connected to each other by one or more attribute(s). The element that links them together is at the core, and is the essence of the group. Just as denoted by the root and the suffix of the word (common-unity), a certain segment of the population is united by a familiar thread. In the field of Public Health, we see community as a group of folks that are at risk of being infected or affected by certain types of diseases based on their demographic, social, and economic status. A community is a familiar thread used to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome those threats. As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop. Communities are also rich in resources, that is where their collective aspect comes into play. We are all members of many communities (family, work, neighborhood, etc.), and we constantly move in and out of them, depending on the situation. Community is where we find comfort in difficult times. When things are not going well in one community, we have the option to move to another. For me, the community is where one finds the balance between physical and mental fitness.

Sarah Michelson, Teen Intern with The Food Project

Most people in today’s world rely on a community for practical purposes. The necessities of life rarely come from one’s own hands, but rather from a complicated “web of mutuality,” as Martin Luther King, Jr. once phrased it. While most people need to be part of a community for life’s necessities, most people want to be part of a community because there is something indescribably lovely about being a part of a group of people who share something more substantial than geographical location… something they feel passionately about. Something that, when shared, makes individuals seem less lonely. A community is a safe place.

But there is something potentially dangerous about communities. A community that is safe, comfortable, and trusting can be so enticing that individuals can forget about the world outside of their community, or regard other communities with subtle prejudices.

I am a member of the Sudbury community, an affluent suburb of Boston. While I work to give back to my community, I also need to spend some time away from Sudbury, to know what life is like in Bolivia, in the American South, or in Roxbury, the inner city neighborhood where the Food Project does a lot of its work. I need to go to these places to remind myself that this way of life I am used to is not the only way or the best way. I need to be reminded that, while I give to my community, other communities are no less deserving. I need to be reminded that when I form a connection with someone based on common experience, it is not because that someone is from Sudbury. It is because we are both human beings, and I am part of a global community.

Alan O’Hare, Schenachie (Celtic Storyteller) and Director Life Story Theatre

In the silence of an early morning walk recently, the crystal song of a scarlet red cardinal atop an oak tree awakened me more fully. As I stood listening to him and his mate in a nearby tree serenading each other, a couple walking their dog joined me. Without speaking a word, it was clear we were enchanted by the gift of their song, and we joined together briefly in a community of celebration for the gifts of Nature.

The new light, the morning hymn, and the momentary connection with other travelers evoked images from other communities. Each of these whether for learning, work, healing, prayer, or friendship creates for us a safe experience of belonging, purpose, and shared values. In them, each of us encounters who we are and what our gifts are.

In the Sufi tradition, it is taught that the primary purpose of life is to awaken to the essence of who we are. Once we do so, we are invited to lovingly embrace this realization. The gift of community is that it offers each of us the fire of affirmation and support to achieve this… even on those days when we feel no fire.

But at that time we can recall the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “I ask all of you to hold up your hands and tell me the truth. Do you believe, as I do, that someone in our hamlet is keeping the fire alive?”

Frances Moore Lappé, Author of Democracy’s Edge

Community — meaning for me “nurturing human connection” — is our survival. We humans wither outside of community. It isn’t a luxury, a nice thing; community is essential to our well being.   Inclusion in the social life of society is community’s foundation. By inclusion I mean universal access to entry, starting with legal protections against exclusion — racial discrimination, for example — but going far, far beyond. Inclusion means access to jobs with fair pay, decent shelter, effective schools, and reliable health care. If you deprive “a man of a job or an income,” said Martin Luther King, Jr., “you are in substance saying to that man that he has no right to exist…it is murder, psychologically…”   Yet today the ethic in ascendance is exclusion. We have allowed the government to let the minimum wage lose a quarter of its value in thirty years. One out of every five jobs in the U.S. will not lift a family of four out of poverty. And we’ve allowed health care to become unattainable by so many that America now ranks 42nd among the world’s nations in infant survival.   This profoundly disturbing assault on community calls us to accept an irony: We must risk exclusion — alienating or at least disturbing others — to become advocates for inclusion in community. That may mean speaking our minds even if  doing so triggers discomfort in others, reaching out to those excluded even when it feels awkward, engaging in visible civic public action such as a vigil or door-to-door education even where we risk angry rejection.   Appreciating that community is essential to human well being calls us to a particular kind of courage: walking with our fear of exclusion in order to stand up for inclusion.

Lisa R. Fortuna, Staff Psychiatrist, Cambridge Health Alliance

Community is about growing with others. I grew up surrounded by a culturally rich and loving community which has shaped my identity and pride as a black Latina woman. I have been blessed to be around young people and families ever engaged in improving the vitality of their community. Now, thirty five years into my life, I am a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Everyday, I get to meet with young people. I have the opportunity to be there in their lives during some of their most difficult and distressing moments. Because of who these young people are, and because of the love I have received, I strive to be the best physician I can be and to serve those who need me most.

In the process, my spirituality has been a central stabilizing and informing force in my life, one that has been very personal, very quiet and that has nevertheless guided every one of my life choices. This interface between community, medicine, and personal faith started with an early and long-standing fascination with the world around me. My mind was ignited by a love of science and medicine, and reliant on the power of community and deep respect and appreciation for healing. This attitude towards the world was inspired by my grandmother my mother, and the elders around me who took the time to care. This is what community is about… taking care of each other.

Shirley Tang, Assistant Professor, Asian-American Studies & American Studies, UM ass Boston

I accepted the invitation to write for the BRC newsletter as a way to reflect briefly upon my own questions about community-building after twelve years of teaching and developing Asian American Studies in both university and street settings with students from urban immigrant/refugee communities. I was first drawn to Asian American Studies, and ethnic studies in general, because of its revolutionary commitments to community-building, justice-centered education, and hands-on, practical work. I have always felt that the best places to learn/teach are not behind the closed doors of an ivory tower but where people are experiencing marginalization and exclusion from decision-making power and resource-rich opportunities.

Several years ago, that was all theory. After I listened carefully to how young people and their families experienced problems first-hand and after I realized that they had always been at the forefront in fighting for a just and healthy community for all, I had begun to see things from their perspective and apply myself to keeping their—our—dreams alive. Since I started working at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, I have become a U.S. resident, and like many of the students and community members that I work with, I also found my life becoming more and more tied to the political and social situation of immigrant communities/communities of color in U.S.  society.

So, why is community important? Because community saves us from the isolation and alienation we fear. Because in the real world people have no choice. Because community is about finding each other and a place we can call home. But we are also compelled to build community not only because we are survivors in an existing world order but because we bring differences to a society that erases our differences. By dealing with differences we confront the question of the social and economic foundations of our society. By building community we put some order in the fragmented world.

Participants engage in dialogue at the 2019 Ikeda Forum


It’s a simple idea with vast implications. Known in Western society as interdependence, the concept has been known for millennia in Buddhism as “dependent origination.” Because of the light it sheds on all manner of living relations, Ikeda returns time and again to it in his writings, speeches, and dialogues.

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How to Write the Community Essay – Guide with Examples (2023-24)

September 6, 2023

Students applying to college this year will inevitably confront the community essay. In fact, most students will end up responding to several community essay prompts for different schools. For this reason, you should know more than simply how to approach the community essay as a genre. Rather, you will want to learn how to decipher the nuances of each particular prompt, in order to adapt your response appropriately. In this article, we’ll show you how to do just that, through several community essay examples. These examples will also demonstrate how to avoid cliché and make the community essay authentically and convincingly your own.

Emphasis on Community

Do keep in mind that inherent in the word “community” is the idea of multiple people. The personal statement already provides you with a chance to tell the college admissions committee about yourself as an individual. The community essay, however, suggests that you depict yourself among others. You can use this opportunity to your advantage by showing off interpersonal skills, for example. Or, perhaps you wish to relate a moment that forged important relationships. This in turn will indicate what kind of connections you’ll make in the classroom with college peers and professors.

Apart from comprising numerous people, a community can appear in many shapes and sizes. It could be as small as a volleyball team, or as large as a diaspora. It could fill a town soup kitchen, or spread across five boroughs. In fact, due to the internet, certain communities today don’t even require a physical place to congregate. Communities can form around a shared identity, shared place, shared hobby, shared ideology, or shared call to action. They can even arise due to a shared yet unforeseen circumstance.

What is the Community Essay All About?             

In a nutshell, the community essay should exhibit three things:

  • An aspect of yourself, 2. in the context of a community you belonged to, and 3. how this experience may shape your contribution to the community you’ll join in college.

It may look like a fairly simple equation: 1 + 2 = 3. However, each college will word their community essay prompt differently, so it’s important to look out for additional variables. One college may use the community essay as a way to glimpse your core values. Another may use the essay to understand how you would add to diversity on campus. Some may let you decide in which direction to take it—and there are many ways to go!

To get a better idea of how the prompts differ, let’s take a look at some real community essay prompts from the current admission cycle.

Sample 2023-2024 Community Essay Prompts

1) brown university.

“Students entering Brown often find that making their home on College Hill naturally invites reflection on where they came from. Share how an aspect of your growing up has inspired or challenged you, and what unique contributions this might allow you to make to the Brown community. (200-250 words)”

A close reading of this prompt shows that Brown puts particular emphasis on place. They do this by using the words “home,” “College Hill,” and “where they came from.” Thus, Brown invites writers to think about community through the prism of place. They also emphasize the idea of personal growth or change, through the words “inspired or challenged you.” Therefore, Brown wishes to see how the place you grew up in has affected you. And, they want to know how you in turn will affect their college community.

“NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world-class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience.

We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community. Please respond in 250 words or less.”

Here, NYU places an emphasis on students’ “identity,” “backgrounds,” and “diversity,” rather than any physical place. (For some students, place may be tied up in those ideas.) Furthermore, while NYU doesn’t ask specifically how identity has changed the essay writer, they do ask about your “experience.” Take this to mean that you can still recount a specific moment, or several moments, that work to portray your particular background. You should also try to link your story with NYU’s values of inclusivity and opportunity.

3) University of Washington

“Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the UW. (300 words max) Tip: Keep in mind that the UW strives to create a community of students richly diverse in cultural backgrounds, experiences, values and viewpoints.”

UW ’s community essay prompt may look the most approachable, for they help define the idea of community. You’ll notice that most of their examples (“families,” “cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood”…) place an emphasis on people. This may clue you in on their desire to see the relationships you’ve made. At the same time, UW uses the words “individual” and “richly diverse.” They, like NYU, wish to see how you fit in and stand out, in order to boost campus diversity.

Writing Your First Community Essay

Begin by picking which community essay you’ll write first. (For practical reasons, you’ll probably want to go with whichever one is due earliest.) Spend time doing a close reading of the prompt, as we’ve done above. Underline key words. Try to interpret exactly what the prompt is asking through these keywords.

Next, brainstorm. I recommend doing this on a blank piece of paper with a pencil. Across the top, make a row of headings. These might be the communities you’re a part of, or the components that make up your identity. Then, jot down descriptive words underneath in each column—whatever comes to you. These words may invoke people and experiences you had with them, feelings, moments of growth, lessons learned, values developed, etc. Now, narrow in on the idea that offers the richest material and that corresponds fully with the prompt.

Lastly, write! You’ll definitely want to describe real moments, in vivid detail. This will keep your essay original, and help you avoid cliché. However, you’ll need to summarize the experience and answer the prompt succinctly, so don’t stray too far into storytelling mode.

How To Adapt Your Community Essay

Once your first essay is complete, you’ll need to adapt it to the other colleges involving community essays on your list. Again, you’ll want to turn to the prompt for a close reading, and recognize what makes this prompt different from the last. For example, let’s say you’ve written your essay for UW about belonging to your swim team, and how the sports dynamics shaped you. Adapting that essay to Brown’s prompt could involve more of a focus on place. You may ask yourself, how was my swim team in Alaska different than the swim teams we competed against in other states?

Once you’ve adapted the content, you’ll also want to adapt the wording to mimic the prompt. For example, let’s say your UW essay states, “Thinking back to my years in the pool…” As you adapt this essay to Brown’s prompt, you may notice that Brown uses the word “reflection.” Therefore, you might change this sentence to “Reflecting back on my years in the pool…” While this change is minute, it cleverly signals to the reader that you’ve paid attention to the prompt, and are giving that school your full attention.

What to Avoid When Writing the Community Essay  

  • Avoid cliché. Some students worry that their idea is cliché, or worse, that their background or identity is cliché. However, what makes an essay cliché is not the content, but the way the content is conveyed. This is where your voice and your descriptions become essential.
  • Avoid giving too many examples. Stick to one community, and one or two anecdotes arising from that community that allow you to answer the prompt fully.
  • Don’t exaggerate or twist facts. Sometimes students feel they must make themselves sound more “diverse” than they feel they are. Luckily, diversity is not a feeling. Likewise, diversity does not simply refer to one’s heritage. If the prompt is asking about your identity or background, you can show the originality of your experiences through your actions and your thinking.

Community Essay Examples and Analysis

Brown university community essay example.

I used to hate the NYC subway. I’ve taken it since I was six, going up and down Manhattan, to and from school. By high school, it was a daily nightmare. Spending so much time underground, underneath fluorescent lighting, squashed inside a rickety, rocking train car among strangers, some of whom wanted to talk about conspiracy theories, others who had bedbugs or B.O., or who manspread across two seats, or bickered—it wore me out. The challenge of going anywhere seemed absurd. I dreaded the claustrophobia and disgruntlement.

Yet the subway also inspired my understanding of community. I will never forget the morning I saw a man, several seats away, slide out of his seat and hit the floor. The thump shocked everyone to attention. What we noticed: he appeared drunk, possibly homeless. I was digesting this when a second man got up and, through a sort of awkward embrace, heaved the first man back into his seat. The rest of us had stuck to subway social codes: don’t step out of line. Yet this second man’s silent actions spoke loudly. They said, “I care.”

That day I realized I belong to a group of strangers. What holds us together is our transience, our vulnerabilities, and a willingness to assist. This community is not perfect but one in motion, a perpetual work-in-progress. Now I make it my aim to hold others up. I plan to contribute to the Brown community by helping fellow students and strangers in moments of precariousness.    

Brown University Community Essay Example Analysis

Here the student finds an original way to write about where they come from. The subway is not their home, yet it remains integral to ideas of belonging. The student shows how a community can be built between strangers, in their responsibility toward each other. The student succeeds at incorporating key words from the prompt (“challenge,” “inspired” “Brown community,” “contribute”) into their community essay.

UW Community Essay Example

I grew up in Hawaii, a world bound by water and rich in diversity. In school we learned that this sacred land was invaded, first by Captain Cook, then by missionaries, whalers, traders, plantation owners, and the U.S. government. My parents became part of this problematic takeover when they moved here in the 90s. The first community we knew was our church congregation. At the beginning of mass, we shook hands with our neighbors. We held hands again when we sang the Lord’s Prayer. I didn’t realize our church wasn’t “normal” until our diocese was informed that we had to stop dancing hula and singing Hawaiian hymns. The order came from the Pope himself.

Eventually, I lost faith in God and organized institutions. I thought the banning of hula—an ancient and pure form of expression—seemed medieval, ignorant, and unfair, given that the Hawaiian religion had already been stamped out. I felt a lack of community and a distrust for any place in which I might find one. As a postcolonial inhabitant, I could never belong to the Hawaiian culture, no matter how much I valued it. Then, I was shocked to learn that Queen Ka’ahumanu herself had eliminated the Kapu system, a strict code of conduct in which women were inferior to men. Next went the Hawaiian religion. Queen Ka’ahumanu burned all the temples before turning to Christianity, hoping this religion would offer better opportunities for her people.

Community Essay (Continued)

I’m not sure what to make of this history. Should I view Queen Ka’ahumanu as a feminist hero, or another failure in her islands’ tragedy? Nothing is black and white about her story, but she did what she thought was beneficial to her people, regardless of tradition. From her story, I’ve learned to accept complexity. I can disagree with institutionalized religion while still believing in my neighbors. I am a product of this place and their presence. At UW, I plan to add to campus diversity through my experience, knowing that diversity comes with contradictions and complications, all of which should be approached with an open and informed mind.

UW Community Essay Example Analysis

This student also manages to weave in words from the prompt (“family,” “community,” “world,” “product of it,” “add to the diversity,” etc.). Moreover, the student picks one of the examples of community mentioned in the prompt, (namely, a religious group,) and deepens their answer by addressing the complexity inherent in the community they’ve been involved in. While the student displays an inner turmoil about their identity and participation, they find a way to show how they’d contribute to an open-minded campus through their values and intellectual rigor.

What’s Next

For more on supplemental essays and essay writing guides, check out the following articles:

  • How to Write the Why This Major Essay + Example
  • How to Write the Overcoming Challenges Essay + Example
  • How to Start a College Essay – 12 Techniques and Tips
  • College Essay

Kaylen Baker

With a BA in Literary Studies from Middlebury College, an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and a Master’s in Translation from Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Kaylen has been working with students on their writing for over five years. Previously, Kaylen taught a fiction course for high school students as part of Columbia Artists/Teachers, and served as an English Language Assistant for the French National Department of Education. Kaylen is an experienced writer/translator whose work has been featured in Los Angeles Review, Hybrid, San Francisco Bay Guardian, France Today, and Honolulu Weekly, among others.

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Writing a College Essay About Community and Examples

community building essay

By Eric Eng

A woman holding a notebook and pen

The vast majority of colleges have a series of essay prompts students have to complete along with their Common Application. If you’re applying to multiple universities, you’ll notice that many of these essay topics overlap, although the wording is never identical. One of the ​primary reasons for this similarity is that each college admissions committee wants to learn similar things about you. They’re all interested in learning more about who you are, what you’re interested in, what goals you have in the future, and why you’ve chosen to apply to this university. One of these prompts is a college essay about community.

A person holding a pen, starting to write on a paper.

While it varies from college to college, the prompt will roughly sound like this:

Tell us a little about a community of which you consider yourself part.

Each university will add its own spin or add-on question, but they’re all asking roughly the same thing: what about your background has had a major impact on who you are today?

Here’s an actual example from Brown University to give you some context:

Tell us about a place or community you call home. How has it shaped your perspective?

At first glance, this college essay about community seems pretty easy. Not only is the question itself short but colleges also typically only request a short answer of a few hundred words. However, after you read over the prompt a few more times, you might realize how open-ended it is. What does it exactly mean by community? Well, that depends on how you want to answer the question. You can take it to mean literally the community in which you live or you can take it in more of a metaphorical sense to mean a group of people with which you identify for some particular reason. Maybe you see your weekly D&D group as part of your community.

Regardless of how you interpret community, the primary thrust of the question remains the same. This is the perfect opportunity for you to talk more about who you are and how you interact with your community at large. Admissions officers aren’t only interested in how you can benefit from attending the university. They’re also interested to know what you’ll be able to offer students, teachers, and the larger school community. This college essay about community is how you’ll illustrate what you can offer.

How to Write the Community Essay: Complete Guide

While all college essays are an excellent time to show admissions officers why you’re a great fit for the school, the community prompt is especially important. If you’re able to knock this essay out of the park, you can successfully convey to colleges how you would contribute to the school. Here, we’ll look at 10 things to know before you write a college essay about the community in an effort to help you write the best response possible.

It’s open-ended.

As we’ve mentioned before, this college essay about community is fairly open-ended. While this lack of direction can be daunting, it’s also an opportunity for you to get creative. Oftentimes, college essay prompts will have hidden questions inherent within the topic. For this subject, it’s not just an essay on a community experience. Admissions officers are also asking what kind of community you identify as being part of. Keeping this in mind, you should think about the different “identities” you have and what groups of people you spend time with at school, work, or elsewhere. Don’t limit yourself to the literal definition of “community” if something else pops up.

Here are some various ways you can interpret the word:

  • Interest: Our earlier example of a D&D group being identified as a community would fall into this category. Any group of people who are brought together due to shared experiences or interests could count as a community.
  • Place: This is perhaps the most literal definition of community that could be used. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad choice for your response. If you’ve developed a close bond or sense of identity with people who you live near, work, or go to school, this is a great interpretation to run with.
  • Action: If you’re involved in an organization, club, or chapter that seeks to bring about positive changes in the world or just within your local area, this would certainly count as a community. This angle would also be a great way to show initiative and action.

Stay focused.

If you’re an active individual with a lot of friends who participate in a bunch of extracurricular activities, you might be a member of a dozen communities or more! Although you might be tempted to mention all of these groups to show some dynamic in your application, we advise students to only stick to one.

A woman with a laptop in front is writing on a notebook.

First and foremost, the prompts usually only ask for a single community and following these directions is paramount. Secondly, you’re usually only given a few hundred words to respond. This barely gives you enough time to expound on the importance of one community. Focusing on more than one would spread your answer too thin.

Talk about yourself.

No matter what a college prompt might say, the answers should always be about you. Keep in mind that the primary purpose of these essays is to give admissions officers a better idea of who they are. Although the college essay about community does involve other people, the question is primarily asking what group you identify with. While you’ll no doubt mention and even describe other people, don’t forget to talk about yourself. This should be your primary focus throughout the piece as it’s what the college is most interested in learning more about.

Young man writing on a table.

Toot your horn.

At the heart of it, a college essay about community is asking you to toot your own horn…at least a little. As a member of a community, you need to be offering something to the group, not just benefitting. As we’ve just discussed, showing this reciprocity illustrates your ability to be a contributing part of a larger community. For admissions counselors, this is an important part of deciding whether or not you’ll be a fit at their university.

A woman stopped writing on her notebook to think and look outside.

Since there aren’t many college essays on volunteering, this would be a great opportunity to talk about it. While you shouldn’t go overboard, don’t be afraid to earnestly talk about how you’re helping others within your community. Still, in order to make a college essay about community service unique, you’ll need to discuss how the experience shaped who you are today.

Get personal with your essay.

While all college essay prompts are designed to help admissions officers get to know you better, a college essay about community is one of the best places to accomplish this goal. As a result, one of the best pieces of advice we can give students is to get personal! Don’t be afraid to show off your quirky side, something unique about you, a little bit about your background, and everything that makes you…well, you! If you feel that the topic you chose is a little too personal for you to really open up, consider switching to another sense of the word “community” about which you’re more comfortable talking.

A female student wearing glasses is writing on her notebook while reading a book.

Pro Tip: If you’re able to connect your college essay about community directly with an offering from the university, you should definitely do it! This not only shows that you’ve done your homework about the school, but it also illustrates a connection between your goals and the university itself. This keeps admissions officers from having to find this connection on their own.

“Describe a Community You Belong to” Essay Example

East meets west.

I look around my room, dimly lit by an orange light. On my desk, a framed picture of an Asian family beaming their smiles, buried among US history textbooks and The Great Gatsby . A Korean ballad streams from two tiny computer speakers. Pamphlets of American colleges were scattered on the floor. A cold December wind wafts a strange infusion of ramen and leftover pizza. On the wall in the far back, a Korean flag hangs beside a Led Zeppelin poster.

Do I consider myself Korean or American?

A few years back, I would have replied: “Neither.” The frustrating moments of miscommunication, the stifling homesickness, and the impossible dilemma of deciding between the Korean or American table in the dining hall, all fueled my identity crisis.

Standing in the “Foreign Passports” section at JFK, I have always felt out of place. Sure, I held a Korean passport in my hands, and I loved kimchi and Yuna Kim and knew the Korean Anthem by heart. But I also loved macaroni and cheese and LeBron. Deep inside, I feared I’d be labeled by my airport customs category: a foreigner everywhere.

This ambiguity, however, has granted me the opportunity to absorb the best of both worlds. Look at my dorm room. This mélange of cultures in my East-meets-West room embodies the diversity that characterizes my international student life.

I’ve learned to accept my “ambiguity” as “diversity,” as a third-culture student embracing both identities.

Now, I can proudly answer: “Both.”

What We Like:

  • The author uses very descriptive language that does an excellent job of setting the scene, making the piece as engaging as a short story.
  • Although the subject is potentially generic (i.e. a story about having two different identities due to cultural differences), the author does a tremendous job of keeping it personal, insightful, interesting, and non-cliche.
  • The story comes full circle by discussing something that was different in the past and how the writer’s experiences have changed it for the better today.
  • The author openly admits to having an “identity crisis” which captures the reader’s attention even more without being too overbearing.

The Pumpkin House

I was raised in “The Pumpkin House.” Every Autumn, on the lawn between the sidewalk and the road, grows our pumpkin. Every summer, we procure seeds from giant pumpkins and plant them on this strip of land. Every fall, the pumpkin grows to be a giant. This annual ritual became well known in the community and became the defining feature of our already quirky house.

The pumpkin was not just a pumpkin, but a catalyst to creating interactions and community. Conversations often start with “aren’t you the girl in the pumpkin house?” My English teacher knew about our pumpkin and our chickens. His curiosity and weekly updates about the pumpkin helped us connect.

One year, we found our pumpkin splattered across the street. We were devastated; the pumpkin was part of our identity. Word spread, and people came to our house to share in our dismay. Clearly, that pumpkin enriched our life and the entire neighborhood’.

The next morning, our patch contained twelve new pumpkins. Anonymous neighbors left these, plus, a truly gigantic 200 lb. pumpkin on our doorstep.

Growing up, the pumpkin challenged me as I wasn’t always comfortable being the center of attention.

But in retrospect, I realize that there’s a bit of magic in growing something from a seed and tending it in public. I witnessed how this act of sharing creates an authentic community spirit. I wouldn’t be surprised if someday I started my own form of quirky pumpkin growing and reap the benefit of true community.

  • The author expresses the importance of rituals and family which is an excellent topic for a college essay about community.
  • The topic of the essay is mentioned within the first two to three sentences of the piece, making use of limited space.
  • The word “community” is explicitly used which shows admissions staff you know how to follow directions while also making it easier for them to understand what you’re writing about.
  • The topic is unique to the writer and not something that many – if any – other applicants would be able to write about.
  • It comes across as very authentic, personal, and genuine while still being engaging and interesting.

Need help getting into top-tier colleges?

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Blog > Essay Advice , Supplementals > How to Write a Community Supplemental Essay (with Examples)

How to Write a Community Supplemental Essay (with Examples)

Admissions officer reviewed by Ben Bousquet, M.Ed Former Vanderbilt University

Written by Kylie Kistner, MA Former Willamette University Admissions

Key Takeaway

If you're applying to college, there's a good chance you'll be writing a Community Essay for one (or lots) of your supplementals. In this post, we show you how to write one that stands out.

This post is one in a series of posts about the supplemental essays . You can read our core “how-to” supplemental post here .

When schools admit you, they aren’t just admitting you to be a student. They’re also admitting you to be a community member.

Community supplemental essays help universities understand how you would fit into their school community. At their core, Community prompts allow you to explicitly show an admissions officer why you would be the perfect addition to the school’s community.

Let’s get into what a Community supplemental essay is, what strategies you can use to stand out, and which steps you can take to write the best one possible.

What is a Community supplemental essay?

Community supplemental essay prompts come in a number of forms. Some ask you to talk about a community you already belong to, while others ask you to expand on how you would contribute to the school you’re applying to.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

1: Rice University

Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? 500 word limit.

2: Swarthmore College

Swarthmore students’ worldviews are often forged by their prior experiences and exposure to ideas and values. Our students are often mentored, supported, and developed by their immediate context—in their neighborhoods, communities of faith, families, and classrooms. Reflect on what elements of your home, school, or community have shaped you or positively impacted you. How have you grown or changed because of the influence of your community?

Community Essay Strategy

Your Community essay strategy will likely depend on the kind of Community essay you’re asked to write. As with all supplemental essays, the goal of any community essay should be to write about the strengths that make you a good fit for the school in question.

How to write about a community to which you belong

Most Community essay prompts give you a lot of flexibility in how you define “community.” That means that the community you write about probably isn’t limited to the more formal communities you’re part of like family or school. Your communities can also include friend groups, athletic teams, clubs and organizations, online communities, and more.

There are two things you should consider before you even begin writing your essay.

What school values is the prompt looking for?

Whether they’re listed implicitly or explicitly, Community essay prompts often include values that you can align your essay response with.

To explain, let’s look at this short supplemental prompt from the University of Notre Dame:

If you were given unlimited resources to help solve one problem in your community, what would it be and how would you accomplish it?

Now, this prompt doesn’t outright say anything about values. But the question itself, even being so short, implies a few values:

a) That you should be active in your community

b) That you should be aware of your community’s problems

c) That you know how to problem-solve

d) That you’re able to collaborate with your community

After dissecting the prompt for these values, you can write a Community essay that showcases how you align with them.

What else are admissions officers learning about you through the community you choose?

In addition to showing what a good community member you are, your Community supplemental essays can also let you talk about other parts of your experience. Doing so can help you find the perfect narrative balance among all your essays.

Let’s use a quick example.

If I’m a student applying to computer science programs, then I might choose to write about the community I’ve found in my robotics team. More specifically, I might write about my role as cheerleader and principle problem-solver of my robotics team. Writing about my robotics team allows me to do two things:

Show that I’m a really supportive person in my community, and

Show that I’m on a robotics team that means a lot to me.

Now, it’s important not to co-opt your Community essay and turn it into a secret Extracurricular essay , but it’s important to be thinking about all the information an admissions officer will learn about you based on the community you choose to focus on.

How to write about what you’ll contribute to your new community

The other segment of Community essays are those that ask you to reflect on how your specific experiences will contribute to your new community.

It’s important that you read each prompt carefully so you know what to focus your essay on.

These kinds of Community prompts let you explicitly drive home why you belong at the school you’re applying to.

Here are two suggestions to get you started.

Draw out the values.

This kind of Community prompt also typically contains some kind of reference to values. The Rice prompt is a perfect example of this:

Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community . The Residential College System and undergraduate life is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community? 500 word limit.

There are several values here:

a) Collaboration

b) Enhancing quality of life

c) For all members of the community

d) Residential system (AKA not just in the classroom)

e) Sharing unique life experiences and cultural traditions with other students

Note that the actual question of the prompt is “What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community?” If you skimmed the beginning of the prompt to get to the question, you’d miss all these juicy details about what a Rice student looks like.

But with them in mind, you can choose to write about a life perspective that you hold that aligns with these five values.

Find detailed connections to the school.

Since these kinds of Community prompts ask you what you would contribute to the school community, this is your chance to find the most logical and specific connections you can. Browse the school website and social media to find groups, clubs, activities, communities, or support systems that are related to your personal background and experiences. When appropriate based on the prompt, these kinds of connections can help you show how good a fit you are for the school and community.

How to do Community Essay school research

Looking at school values means doing research on the school’s motto, mission statement, and strategic plans. This information is all carefully curated by a university to reflect the core values, initiatives, and goals of an institution. They can guide your Community essay by giving you more values options to include.

We’ll use the Rice mission statement as an example. It says,

As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research , unsurpassed teaching , and contribution to the betterment of our world . It seeks to fulfill this mission by cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor.

I’ve bolded just a few of the most important values we can draw out.

As we’ll see in the next section, I can use these values to brainstorm my Community essay.

How to write a Community Supplemental Essay

Step 1: Read the prompt closely & identify any relevant values.

When writing any supplemental essay, your first step should always be to closely read the prompt. You can even annotate it. It’s important to do this so you know exactly what is being asked of you.

With Community essays specifically, you can also highlight any values you think the prompt is asking you to elaborate on.

Keeping track of the prompt will make sure that you’re not missing anything an admissions officer will be on the lookout for.

Step 2: Brainstorm communities you’re involved in.

If you’re writing a Community essay that asks you to discuss a community you belong to, then your next step will be brainstorming all of your options.

As you brainstorm, keep a running list. Your list can include all kinds of communities you’re involved in.


  • Model United Nations
  • Youth group
  • Instagram book club
  • My Discord group

Step 3: Think about the role(s) you play in your selected community.

Narrow down your community list to a couple of options. For each remaining option, identify the roles you played, actions you took, and significance you’ve drawn from being part of that group.

Community: Orchestra

Roles Actions Significance
Section leader Lead sectionals, be available for others to ask questions, coordinate with orchestra director to set section goals, set a good example for the rest of the section My involvement in this community is significant because it’s taught me to balance my own technical skill with teamwork and collaboration.
Fundraiser coordinator Coordinate fundraiser activities to raise money for orchestra room upgrades I showed my dedication to my orchestra community by putting in a lot of extra work to raise $5,000 for the new equipment we needed.

These three columns help you get at the most important details you need to include in your community essay.

Step 4: Identify any relevant connections to the school.

Depending on the question the prompt asks of you, your last step may be to do some school research.

Let’s return to the Rice example.

After researching the Rice mission statement, we know that Rice values community members who want to contribute to the “betterment of our world.”

Ah ha! Now we have something solid to work from.

With this value in mind, I can choose to write about a perspective that shows my investment in creating a better world. Maybe that perspective is a specific kind of fundraising tenacity. Maybe it’s always looking for those small improvements that have a big impact. Maybe it’s some combination of both. Whatever it is, I can write a supplemental essay that reflects the values of the university.

Community Essay Mistakes

While writing Community essays may seem fairly straightforward, there are actually a number of ways they can go awry. Specifically, there are three common mistakes students make that you should be on the lookout for.

They don’t address the specific requests of the prompt.

As with all supplemental essays, your Community essay needs to address what the prompt is asking you to do. In Community essays especially, you’ll need to assess whether you’re being asked to talk about a community you’re already part of or the community you hope to join.

Neglecting to read the prompt also means neglecting any help the prompt gives you in terms of values. Remember that you can get clues as to what the school is looking for by analyzing the prompt’s underlying values.

They’re too vague.

Community essays can also go awry when they’re too vague. Your Community essay should reflect on specific, concrete details about your experience. This is especially the case when a Community prompt asks you to talk about a specific moment, challenge, or sequence of events.

Don’t shy away from details. Instead, use them to tell a compelling story.

They don’t make any connections to the school.

Finally, Community essays that don’t make any connections to the school in question miss out on a valuable opportunity to show school fit. Recall from our supplemental essay guide that you should always write supplemental essays with an eye toward showing how well you fit into a particular community.

Community essays are the perfect chance to do that, so try to find relevant and logical school connections to include.

Community Supplemental Essay Example

Example essay: robotics community.

University of Michigan: Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it. (Required for all applicants; minimum 100 words/maximum 300 words)

From Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” videos to ZirconTV’s “How to Use a Stud Finder,” I’m a YouTube how-to fiend. This propensity for fix-it knowledge has not only served me well, but it’s also been a lifesaver for my favorite community: my robotics team(( The writer explicitly states the community they’ll be focusing on.)) . While some students spend their after-school hours playing sports or video games, I spend mine tinkering in my garage with three friends, one of whom is made of metal.

Last year, I Googled more fixes than I can count. Faulty wires, misaligned soldering, and failed code were no match for me. My friends watched in awe as I used Boolean Operators to find exactly the information I sought.(( The writer clearly articulates their place in the community.)) But as I agonized over chassis reviews, other unsearchable problems arose.

First((This entire paragraph fulfills the “describe that community” direction in the prompt.)) , there was the matter of registering for our first robotics competition. None of us familiar with bureaucracy, David stepped up and made some calls. His maturity and social skills helped us immediately land a spot. The next issue was branding. Our robot needed a name and a logo, and Connor took it upon himself to learn graphic design. We all voted on Archie’s name and logo design to find the perfect match. And finally, someone needed to enter the ring. Archie took it from there, winning us first place.

The best part about being in this robotics community is the collaboration and exchange of knowledge.((The writer emphasizes a clear strength: collaboration within their community. It’s clear that the writer values all contributions to the team.))  Although I can figure out how to fix anything, it’s impossible to google social skills, creativity, or courage. For that information, only friends will do. I can only imagine the fixes I’ll bring to the University of Michigan and the skills I’ll learn in return at part of the Manufacturing Robotics community((The writer ends with a forward-looking connection to the school in question.)) .

Want to see even more supplemental essay examples? Check out our college essay examples post . 

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How to Write Supplemental Essays that Will Impress Admissions Officers

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How to Write a College Essay (Exercises + Examples)

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What Is Community Anyway?

Our understanding of community can help funders and evaluators identify, understand, and strengthen the communities they work with.

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By David M. Chavis & Kien Lee May 12, 2015

“Community” is so easy to say. The word itself connects us with each other. It describes an experience so common that we never really take time to explain it. It seems so simple, so natural, and so human. In the social sector, we often add it to the names of social innovations as a symbol of good intentions (for example, community mental health, community policing, community-based philanthropy, community economic development).

But the meaning of community is complex. And, unfortunately, insufficient understanding of what a community is and its role in the lives of people in diverse societies has led to the downfall of many well-intended “community” efforts.

Communities Creating Health

Adding precision to our understanding of community can help funders and evaluators identify, understand, and strengthen the communities they work with. There has been a great deal of research in the social sciences about what a human community is (see for example, Chavis and Wandersman, 1990 ; Nesbit, 1953 ; Putnam, 2000 ). Here, we blend that research with our experience as evaluators and implementers of community change initiatives.

It’s about people.

First and foremost, community is not a place, a building, or an organization; nor is it an exchange of information over the Internet. Community is both a feeling and a set of relationships among people. People form and maintain communities to meet common needs.

Members of a community have a sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other. They have an individual and collective sense that they can, as part of that community, influence their environments and each other.

That treasured feeling of community comes from shared experiences and a sense of—not necessarily the actual experience of—shared history. As a result, people know who is and isn’t part of their community. This feeling is fundamental to human existence.

Neighborhoods, companies, schools, and places of faith are context and environments for these communities, but they are not communities themselves.

People live in multiple communities.

Since meeting common needs is the driving force behind the formation of communities, most people identify and participate in several of them, often based on neighborhood, nation, faith, politics, race or ethnicity, age, gender, hobby, or sexual orientation.

Most of us participate in multiple communities within a given day. The residential neighborhood remains especially important for single mothers, families living in poverty, and the elderly because their sense of community and relationships to people living near them are the basis for the support they need. But for many, community lies beyond. Technology and transportation have made community possible in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.

Communities are nested within each other.


Just like Russian Matryoshka dolls, communities often sit within other communities. For example, in a neighborhood—a community in and of itself—there may be ethnic or racial communities, communities based on people of different ages and with different needs, and communities based on common economic interests.

When a funder or evaluator looks at a neighborhood, they often struggle with its boundaries, as if streets can bind social relationships. Often they see a neighborhood as the community, when, in fact, many communities are likely to exist within it, and each likely extends well beyond the physical boundaries of the neighborhood.

Communities have formal and informal institutions.

Communities form institutions—what we usually think of as large organizations and systems such as schools, government, faith, law enforcement, or the nonprofit sector—to more effectively fulfill their needs.

Equally important, however, are communities’ informal institutions, such as the social or cultural networks of helpers and leaders (for example, council of elders, barbershops, rotating credit and savings associations, gardening clubs). Lower-income and immigrant communities, in particular, rely heavily on these informal institutions to help them make decisions, save money, solve family or intra-community problems, and link to more-formal institutions.

Communities are organized in different ways.

Every community is organized to meet its members’ needs, but they operate differently based on the cultures, religions, and other experiences of their members. For example, while the African American church is generally understood as playing an important role in promoting health education and social justice for that community, not all faith institutions such as the mosque or Buddhist temple are organized and operate in the same way.

Global migration has led to an assortment of communities based on people’s needs and desire for that sense of trust, belonging, safety, and caring for each other. For example, one group of new immigrants may form a community around its need to advocate for better treatment by law enforcement. Another group may form a community around its need for spiritual guidance. The former may not look like a community, as we imagine them, while the latter likely will.

The meaning of community requires more thoughtfulness and deliberation than we typically give it. Going forward, researchers, practitioners, and policymakers must embrace this complexity—including the crucial impact communities have on health and well-being—as they strive to understand and create social change.

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Community Building in the Classroom

What is community building and why is it important? How do I build community in my class? This research-informed guide addresses these questions with a particular focus on synchronous community building strategies. At the same time, many of the community building strategies presented in this guide can also be adapted to the asynchronous modality. Considerations for asynchronous engagement are outlined at the end of the guide. 

The CTL is here to consult with instructors on further exploring community building strategies. To schedule your one-on-one consultation, please contact the Faculty Programs and Services team at [email protected] .

On this page:

What is community building, why build community.

  • Social Icebreakers

Metacognitive Activities

Content-based Activities

Considerations for Asynchronous Modality and Large Courses

The ctl is here to help.

For additional support with community building in your course, email [email protected] to schedule your 1-1 consultation.

Cite this resource: Columbia Center for Teaching and Learning (2021). Community Building in the Classroom. Columbia University. Retrieved [today’s date] from

A community is a supportive social group in which members feel a sense of belonging and share a common interest, experience, or goals (Berry, 2017; Brown, 2001; McMillan & Chavis, 1986; Rovai, 2003). Particularly in a learning community, members (both students and instructors) engage in collective inquiry and provide each other with academic and social support (Lai, 2015; Shrivastava, 1999). 

Community building in the classroom is about creating a space in which students and instructors are committed to a shared learning goal and achieve learning through frequent collaboration and social interaction (Adams & Wilson, 2020; Berry, 2019; McMillan & Chavis, 1986). With intentional planning and deliberate pedagogical choices, cultivating and reinforcing positive interactions among classroom participants becomes an essential component of building a classroom community.

Community building is vital to active student engagement in a course across all modalities. Research shows that when students feel that they belong to their academic community, that they matter to one another, and that they can find emotional, social, and cognitive support for one another, they are able to engage in dialogue and reflection more actively and take ownership and responsibility of their own learning (Baker, 2010; Berry, 2019; Brown, 2001; Bush et al. 2010; Cowan, 2012; Lohr & Haley, 2018; Sadera et al., 2009). 

In particular, the community of inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, 2009; Garrison et al., 2010) is widely noted for its three elements – social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence – that are deemed critical for fostering a community of actively engaged participants.

community building essay

Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison et al., 2010)

The interplay of the social presence (participants’ ability to establish themselves as real/authentic selves in their academic community), cognitive presence (participants’ ability to construct meaning and confirm understanding), and teaching presence (instructor’s ability to design, facilitate, and provide direct instruction) cultivates a community that provides optimal support for student learning. Deliberate community building is therefore a key component of successful student engagement and performance in class.

Community Building Strategies 

This section provides community building strategies that are organized in three broad categories: social icebreakers, metacognitive activities, and content-based activities. These strategies are presented as suggestions and are not meant to be prescriptive; adapt and modify these example activities according to your unique teaching context.

To ensure the successful implementation of community building strategies in your course, consider your context, the technologies available to you and your students, and what must be prepared and established prior to students interacting and collaborating with each other as a whole class or in small groups (see checklist below).

Set up community agreements to establish mutual expectations for participating in whole class interaction (e.g., taking turns to speak, actively listening to others)
Check the technology in advance (e.g., microphones, speakers, cameras, polling tools, online collaborative documents, video-conferencing platforms). Ensure that the features you plan to use are enabled and are working.
When setting up small group interactions, consider asking students to have their earphones and electronic devices ready in case they need to use their individual devices for their group activity.
Have contact information of classroom tech support handy so that you can request technical help when needed.

Social Icebreakers  

What are social icebreakers? Social icebreakers are instructional tactics designed to facilitate rapport building with students, foster a safe learning environment, and relieve inhibition or tension in the class (Chlup & Collins, 2010; Fisher &Tucker, 2004; McGrath et al., 2014).

Why would I use social icebreakers? What do they achieve? Through icebreakers, students are able to not only warm up to each other but also familiarize themselves with the technological tools or platforms that you might often use in your class (e.g., discussion boards, polls, collaborative documents, etc.). When the anxiety of being in a new class environment with new classmates eases, students are more willing to participate in class and actively engage in learning.

When would I use social icebreakers? Social icebreakers often occur at the beginning of the semester, but they need not only be a one-time event on the first day of class. In fact, using icebreakers at various times throughout the course would allow students to continue the community building process and allow for more substantive interaction among themselves.

Sample activities

(Barkley et al., 2014, p. 59)

(Barkley et al., 2014, p. 60)

(Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2010, p. 62)

on PollEverywhere), ask students to add their name, location, and introduce themselves, and identify one interesting fact about their location.

(McGrath et al., 2014)

) or other online platforms (e.g., discussion boards on CourseWorks, Google slides or documents), ask students to post their favorite quote and explain why.

(Chlup & Collins, 2010)

What are metacognitive activities? Metacognition refers to knowledge about one’s own thoughts, including the cognitive process and regulation involved in directing one’s learning (Ambrose et al., 2010; Akyol & Garrison, 2011; Dunlosky & Medcalfe, 2009; Lai, 2011). Metacognitive activities (e.g., self-assessment, self-explanation, monitoring, revising, etc.) allow students to reflect on and regulate their own learning. For a more detailed explanation, see the CTL resource on Metacognition .

Why would I use metacognitive activities? What do they achieve? Metacognitive activities encourage students to become more self-aware as critical thinkers and problem solvers. When students are aware of their own learning process, their learning is enhanced (Bransford et al., 1999; Lin, 2001). For the purpose of community building, allowing students to collaboratively engage in metacognitive activities provides them with opportunities to practice metacognitive skills together and build shared learning experiences in their academic community. By collectively reflecting on and regulating their own learning process, students learn to think critically and to clearly communicate their thoughts to others. 

When would I use metacognitive activities? We encourage you to use metacognitive activities frequently and consistently throughout your course in order to serve students and their learning needs. It is important to not only help students articulate their own thinking but also establish a shared understanding of the goals for metacognitive activities. Therefore, create opportunities early in the course to have a conversation with students about the value and usefulness of metacognitive activities and continue the conversation throughout the course.


(Barkley et al., 2014, p. 61)

(Lohr & Haley, 2018)

(Angelo & Cross, 1993, as cited in Barkley et al., 2014, pp. 62-63)

(Tanner, 2012)

(Angelo & Cross, 1993; Tanner, 2012)

What are content-based activities? Content-based activities involve the course’s subject matter. Community building can occur not only through informal, casual interactions but also through discipline-specific conversations in collaboration with peers. By engaging in activities that are geared toward achieving their shared learning objectives, students motivate each other to learn and create a safe learning environment for themselves.

Why would I use content-based activities? What do they achieve? Content-based activities serve the purpose of achieving both community building and content learning objectives of the course.  By encouraging students to engage with course content in a collaborative manner with their peers, content-based activities help build a learning community with diverse opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions. Through such peer interactions, students are able to recognize the diversity in perspectives and learn the value of collaboration.

When would I use content-based activities?   Content-based activities can occur at any point of the semester as long as they are implemented with clear goals and guidelines: at the beginning of the semester, content-based activities can orient students to the general subject matter; in the middle of an ongoing course project or course unit, they can facilitate student inquiry and learning; and at the end of a major assignment or course unit, they can be used for collaborative reflection.

by Ariana Grande, by Pink Floyd, by the Beatles, by Bruce Springsteen, etc.). 

(Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2010, pp. 64-65)

(shared by a member of the Columbia teaching community at the Hybrid & Online Teaching Institute)

) to collaboratively create their concept map.

(Barkley et al., 2014, p. 63)


(Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p. 167)

(Palloff & Pratt, 2007, p. 181)

While the community building strategies presented thus far focus on synchronous live sessions, they can be adapted and used in the asynchronous modality. Also, because community building can be challenging for large courses, some adjustments may be necessary for the community building strategies to be more useful and practical for large courses. Below is a list of general considerations for modifying the community building strategies for different pedagogical contexts.

Asynchronous Modality

  • Specify the deadline for completion. 
  • Ask students to share their completed activity on a discussion forum and comment on each other’s post (e.g., discussion boards on CourseWorks, shared Google document or slides)
  • Utilize your course’s learning management system (e.g., CourseWorks) to extend the class community to the asynchronous platform. For example, on CourseWorks, consider creating group discussions and arranging regular asynchronous group interactions throughout the semester.
  • Providing a verbal summary of the community building activity in class.
  • Commenting on student posts online.
  • Emailing the highlights of the completed community building activity.

Large Courses

  • If you ask students to participate in icebreaker activities or other group assignments, consider putting students into the same groups each time so that they have the opportunity to become acquainted with each other in a smaller group setting throughout the semester.
  • If you ask students to upload posts on discussion boards on CourseWorks or another online platform and read and comment on each other’s posts, consider creating group discussions so that students are expected to read and engage with only their group members’ posts. 
  • Rather than having every student group report back, randomly select groups to share their discussions.
  • If you ask students to take notes in a collaborative document during their group activity, skim through their notes and highlight some of them by identifying particular emerging themes/patterns and reading them out loud to the whole class.
  • If students engage in a problem-solving activity in small groups, quickly assess their learning with a polling tool (e.g., PollEverywhere , Zoom poll ).
  • Assign students a community building activity in advance so that they can complete it before coming to class. Use Google Forms or other online survey tools to collect their responses. In class, use the survey results to facilitate a whole class discussion. You could also use a polling tool (e.g., PollEverywhere , Zoom poll ) to invite students’ participation during class.

Adams, B., & Wilson, N. S. (2020). Building Community in Asynchronous Online Higher Education Courses Through Collaborative Annotation . Journal of Educational Technology Systems , 49 (2), 250-261.

Ambrose, S. A., Lovett, M., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching . San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry . The Internet and Higher Education, 14 (3), 183-190.

Baker, C. (2010). The impact of instructor immediacy and presence for online student affective learning, cognition, and motivation . Journal of Educators Online , 7 (1), n1.

Barkley, E. F., Cross, K. P., & Major, C. H. (2014). Collaborative learning techniques: A handbook for college faculty . San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Berry, S. (2017). Building community in online doctoral classrooms: Instructor practices that support community . Online Learning , 21 (2), 42-63.

Berry, S. (2019). Teaching to Connect: Community-Building Strategies for the Virtual Classroom. Online Learning , 23 (1), 164-183.

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school . Washington, DC: National Academy Press. 

Brown, R. E. (2001). The process of community-building in distance learning classes . Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks , 5 (2), 18-35.

Bush, R., Castelli, P., Lowry, P., & Cole, M. (2010). The importance of teaching presence in online and hybrid classrooms . In Proceedings of the Academy of Educational Leadership (Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 7-13).

Chlup, D. T., & Collins, T. E. (2010). Breaking the ice: Using ice-breakers and re-energizers with adult learners . Adult Learning , 21 (3-4), 34-39.

Cowan, J. E. (2012). Strategies for developing a community of practice: Nine years of lessons learned in a hybrid technology education master’s program . TechTrends , 56 (1), 12-18.

Dunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2010). Hot for teacher: Using digital music to enhance students’ experience in online courses . TechTrends , 54 (4), 58-73.

Dunlosky, J. and Metcalfe, J. (2009). Metacognition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Fisher, M., & Tucker, D. (2004). Games online: social icebreakers that orient students to synchronous protocol and team formation . Journal of Educational Technology Systems , 32 (4), 419-428.

Garrison, D. R. (2009). Communities of inquiry in online learning . In Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, 2nd Edition (pp. 352-355). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective . The Internet and Higher Education, 13 (1-2), 5-9.

Lai, E.R. (2011). Metacognition: A Literature Review . Pearson’s Research Reports.  

Lai, K. W. (2015). Knowledge construction in online learning communities: A case study of a doctoral course . Studies in Higher Education, 40 (4), 561-579.

Lin, X. (2001). Designing metacognitive activities . Educational Technology Research and Development , 49 (2), 23-40.

Lohr, K. D., & Haley, K. J. (2018). Using biographical prompts to build community in an online graduate course: An adult learning perspective . Adult Learning , 29 (1), 11-19.

McGrath, N., Gregory, S., Farley, H., & Roberts, P. (2014). Tools of the trade: breaking the ice with virtual tools in online learning. In Proceedings of the 31st Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education Conference (ASCILITE 2014) (pp. 470-474). Macquarie University.

McMillan, D. W., & Chavis, D. M. (1986). Sense of community: A definition and theory . Journal of Community Psychology, 14 (1), 6-23.

Moore, M. G. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching . The Journal of Higher Education , 44 (9), 661-679.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom . San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Rovai, A. P. (2003). In search of higher persistence rates in distance education online programs . The Internet and Higher Education , 6 (1), 1-16.

Sadera, W. A., Robertson, J., Song, L., & Midon, M. N. (2009). The role of community in online learning success . Journal of Online Learning and Teaching , 5 (2), 277-284.

Shrivastava, P. (1999). Management classes as online learning communities . Journal of Management Education , 23 (6), 691-702.

Tanner, K. D. (2012). Promoting student metacognition . CBE—Life Sciences Education , 11 (2), 113-120.

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community building essay

How to Write the Community Essay for UPenn

This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Vinay Bhaskara and Aja Altenhof in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.

What’s Covered:

Writing about diversity, consider unconventional identities and perspectives, navigating the word count.

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) requires applicants to submit supplemental essays in addition to the main Common App essay . For the second supplemental essay, UPenn asks students to respond to the following prompt:

How will you explore community at Penn? Consider Penn will shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape Penn. (150-200 words)

This article provides some tips to help you craft your response to this essay prompt, including strategies to avoid common topics, as well as tips to navigate the short word limit.

When approaching this prompt, many students first think to write about diversity, equity, and inclusion. While this topic can work in some cases, it is important to note that this prompt is not inherently about diversity. It is first and foremost a space to showcase the best parts of yourself outside of the classroom that will positively impact, and thrive within, the UPenn community.

Students who have a unique or interesting approach to answering this question typically tend to be the most successful when it comes to writing about diversity for this prompt. If you are interested in writing about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but your topic is not nuanced or particularly strong, you can consider other strategies and topics for this essay.

One strategic way to choose a topic for this prompt is by being unconventional in how you define your perspective or identity, especially when you consider your mindset and elements of your personality. 

As you consider your perspective, it can be helpful to explore how that perspective has been defined through your experiences. For example, depending on your background, you could consider what it is like to go through life as an athlete, as a journalist, or as a debater. 

Keep in mind that you will ultimately have to consider how that perspective impacts your engagement with the community around you, and the personality and values that you bring to the table.

In truth, this supplemental essay may be the trickiest of the three UPenn essays to write. This is because you have to address both parts of the prompt, how UPenn is going to shape your perspective or identity, and how your identity and perspective will shape UPenn, all within just 200 words. There are a few useful tactics that you can employ to help navigate this essay’s short word count.

One trick you can use to help you navigate this essay is by using a “call and response structure.” In this structure, you describe a trait that you have and then, within the same sentence, articulate a behavior or an outcome that this trait will cause on campus. You can also use this structure in the opposite way, to highlight an aspect of Penn’s campus experience and the way in which it will impact your own identity or perspective.

Furthermore, because this essay is on the shorter side, it can be difficult to tell a full story within it. That said, you certainly can hint at an anecdote or an experience that relates to the value, unique perspective, and opportunities and experiences that you will bring with you to UPenn.

For more information on writing UPenn’s supplemental essays, check out our post on How to Write the UPenn Supplemental Essays 2022-2023 .

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community building essay

Cultural Diversity Essay & Community Essay Examples

If you’ve started to research college application requirements for the schools on your list, you might have come across the “cultural diversity essay.” In this guide, we’ll explore the cultural diversity essay in depth. We will compare the cultural diversity essay to the community essay and discuss how to approach these kinds of supplements. We’ll also provide examples of diversity essays and community essay examples. But first, let’s discuss exactly what a cultural diversity essay is. 

The purpose of the cultural diversity essay in college applications is to show the admissions committee what makes you unique. The cultural diversity essay also lets you describe what type of “ diversity ” you would bring to campus.

We’ll also highlight a diversity essay sample for three college applications. These include the Georgetown application essay , Rice application essay , and Williams application essay . We’ll provide examples of diversity essays for each college. Then, for each of these college essays that worked, we will analyze their strengths to help you craft your own essays. 

Finally, we’ll give you some tips on how to write a cultural diversity essay that will make your applications shine. 

But first, let’s explore the types of college essays you might encounter on your college applications. 

Types of College Essays

College application requirements will differ among schools. However, you’ll submit one piece of writing to nearly every school on your list—the personal statement . A strong personal statement can help you stand out in the admissions process. 

So, how do you know what to write about? That depends on the type of college essay included in your college application requirements. 

There are a few main types of college essays that you might encounter in the college admissions process. Theese include the “Why School ” essay, the “Why Major ” essay, and the extracurricular activity essay. This also includes the type of essay we will focus on in this guide—the cultural diversity essay. 

“Why School” essay

The “Why School ” essay is exactly what it sounds like. For this type of college essay, you’ll need to underscore why you want to go to this particular school. 

However, don’t make the mistake of just listing off what you like about the school. Additionally, don’t just reiterate information you can find on their admissions website. Instead, you’ll want to make connections between what the school offers and how you are a great fit for that college community. 

“Why Major” essay

The idea behind the “Why Major ” essay is similar to that of the “Why School ” essay above. However, instead of writing about the school at large, this essay should highlight why you plan to study your chosen major.

There are plenty of directions you could take with this type of essay. For instance, you might describe how you chose this major, what career you plan to pursue upon graduation, or other details.

Extracurricular Activity essay

The extracurricular activity essay asks you to elaborate on one of the activities that you participated in outside of the classroom. 

For this type of college essay, you’ll need to select an extracurricular activity that you pursued while you were in high school. Bonus points if you can tie your extracurricular activity into your future major, career goals, or other extracurricular activities for college. Overall, your extracurricular activity essay should go beyond your activities list. In doing so, it should highlight why your chosen activity matters to you.

Cultural Diversity essay

The cultural diversity essay is your chance to expound upon diversity in all its forms. Before you write your cultural diversity essay, you should ask yourself some key questions. These questions can include: How will you bring diversity to your future college campus? What unique perspective do you bring to the table? 

Another sub-category of the cultural diversity essay is the gender diversity essay. As its name suggests, this essay would center around the author’s gender. This essay would highlight how gender shapes the way the writer understands the world around them. 

Later, we’ll look at examples of diversity essays and other college essays that worked. But before we do, let’s figure out how to identify a cultural diversity essay in the first place. 

How to identify a ‘cultural diversity’ essay

So, you’re wondering how you’ll be able to identify a cultural diversity essay as you review your college application requirements. 

Aside from the major giveaway of having the word “diversity” in the prompt, a cultural diversity essay will ask you to describe what makes you different from other applicants. In other words, what aspects of your unique culture(s) have influenced your perspective and shaped you into who you are today?

Diversity can refer to race, ethnicity, first-generation status, gender, or anything in between. You can write about a myriad of things in a cultural diversity essay. For instance, you might discuss your personal background, identity, values, experiences, or how you’ve overcome challenges in your life. 

However, don’t feel limited in what you can address in a cultural diversity essay. The words “culture” and “diversity” mean different things to different people. Above all, you’ll want your diversity essays for college to be personal and sincere. 

How is a ‘community’ essay different? 

A community essay can also be considered a cultural diversity essay. In fact, you can think of the community essay as a subcategory of the cultural diversity essay. However, there is a key difference between a community essay and a cultural diversity essay, which we will illustrate below. 

You might have already seen some community essay examples while you were researching college application requirements. But how exactly is a community essay different from a cultural diversity essay?

One way to tell the difference between community essay examples and cultural diversity essay examples is by the prompt. A community essay will highlight, well, community . This means it will focus on how your identity will shape your interactions on campus—not just how it informs your own experiences.

Two common forms to look out for

Community essay examples can take two forms. First, you’ll find community essay examples about your past experiences. These let you show the admissions team how you have positively influenced your own community. 

Other community essay examples, however, will focus on the future. These community essay examples will ask you to detail how you will contribute to your future college community. We refer to these as college community essay examples.

In college community essay examples, you’ll see applicants detail how they might interact with their fellow students. These essays may also discuss how students plan to positively contribute to the campus community. 

As we mentioned above, the community essay, along with community essay examples and college community essay examples, fit into the larger category of the cultural diversity essay. Although we do not have specific community essay examples or college community essay examples in this guide, we will continue to highlight the subtle differences between the two. 

Before we continue the discussion of community essay examples and college community essay examples, let’s start with some examples of cultural diversity essay prompts. For each of the cultural diversity essay prompts, we’ll name the institutions that include these diversity essays for college as part of their college application requirements. 

What are some examples of ‘cultural diversity’ essays? 

Now, you have a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the cultural diversity essay and the community essay. So, next, let’s look at some examples of cultural diversity essay prompts.

The prompts below are from the Georgetown application, Rice application, and Williams application, respectively. As we discuss the similarities and differences between prompts, remember the framework we provided above for what constitutes a cultural diversity essay and a community essay. 

Later in this guide, we’ll provide real examples of diversity essays, including Georgetown essay examples, Rice University essay examples, and Williams supplemental essays examples. These are all considered college essays that worked—meaning that the author was accepted into that particular institution. 

Georgetown Supplementals Essays

Later, we’ll look at Georgetown supplemental essay examples. Diversity essays for Georgetown are a product of this prompt: 

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. 

You might have noticed two keywords in this prompt right away: “diverse” and “community.” These buzzwords indicate that this prompt is a cultural diversity essay. You could even argue that responses to this prompt would result in college community essay examples. After all, the prompt refers to the Georgetown community. 

For this prompt, you’ll want to produce a diversity essay sample that highlights who you are. In order to do that successfully, you’ll need to self-reflect before putting pen to paper. What aspects of your background, personality, or values best describe who you are? How might your presence at Georgetown influence or contribute to their diverse community? 

Additionally, this cultural diversity essay can be personal or creative. So, you have more flexibility with the Georgetown supplemental essays than with other similar diversity essay prompts. Depending on the direction you go, your response to this prompt could be considered a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or a college community essay. 

Rice University Essays

The current Rice acceptance rate is just 9% , making it a highly selective school. Because the Rice acceptance rate is so low, your personal statement and supplemental essays can make a huge difference. 

The Rice University essay examples we’ll provide below are based on this prompt: 

The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? 

Breaking down the prompt.

Like the prompt above, this cultural diversity essay asks about your “life experiences,” “cultural traditions,” and personal “perspectives.” These phrases indicate a cultural diversity essay. Keep in mind this may not be the exact prompt you’ll have to answer in your own Rice application. However, future Rice prompts will likely follow a similar framework as this diversity essay sample.

Although this prompt is not as flexible as the Georgetown prompt, it does let you discuss aspects of Rice’s academic life and Residential College System that appeal to you. You can also highlight how your experiences have influenced your personal perspective. 

The prompt also asks about how you would contribute to life at Rice. So, your response could also fall in line with college community essay examples. Remember, college community essay examples are another sub-category of community essay examples. Successful college community essay examples will illustrate the ways in which students would contribute to their future campus community. 

Williams Supplemental Essays

Like the Rice acceptance rate, the Williams acceptance rate is also 9% . Because the Williams acceptance rate is so low, you’ll want to pay close attention to the Williams supplemental essays examples as you begin the writing process. 

The Williams supplemental essays examples below are based on this prompt: 

Every first-year student at Williams lives in an Entry – a thoughtfully constructed microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience. From the moment they arrive, students find themselves in what’s likely the most diverse collection of backgrounds, perspectives, and interests they’ve ever encountered. What might differentiate you from the 19 other first-year students in an Entry? What perspective would you add to the conversation with your peer(s)?

Reflecting on the prompt.

Immediately, words like “diverse,” “backgrounds,” “perspectives,” “interests,” and “differentiate” should stand out to you. These keywords highlight the fact that this is a cultural diversity essay. Similar to the Rice essay, this may not be the exact prompt you’ll face on your Williams application. However, we can still learn from it.

Like the Georgetown essay, this prompt requires you to put in some self-reflection before you start writing. What aspects of your background differentiate you from other people? How would these differences impact your interactions with peers? 

This prompt also touches on the “student community” and how you would “add to the conversation with your peer(s).” By extension, any strong responses to this prompt could also be considered as college community essay examples. 

Community Essays

All of the prompts above mention campus community. So, you could argue that they are also examples of community essays. 

Like we mentioned above, you can think of community essays as a subcategory of the cultural diversity essay. If the prompt alludes to the campus community, or if your response is centered on how you would interact within that community, your essay likely falls into the world of college community essay examples. 

Regardless of what you would classify the essay as, all successful essays will be thoughtful, personal, and rich with details. We’ll show you examples of this in our “college essays that worked” section below. 

Which schools require a cultural diversity or community essay? 

Besides Georgetown, Rice, and Williams, many other college applications require a cultural diversity essay or community essay. In fact, from the Ivy League to HBCUs and state schools, the cultural diversity essay is a staple across college applications. 

Although we will not provide a diversity essay sample for each of the colleges below, it is helpful to read the prompts. This will build your familiarity with other college applications that require a cultural diversity essay or community essay. Some schools that require a cultural diversity essay or community essay include New York University , Duke University , Harvard University , Johns Hopkins University , and University of Michigan . 

New York University

NYU listed a cultural diversity essay as part of its 2022-2023 college application requirements. Here is the prompt:

NYU was founded on the belief that a student’s identity should not dictate the ability for them to access higher education. That sense of opportunity for all students, of all backgrounds, remains a part of who we are today and a critical part of what makes us a world class university. Our community embraces diversity, in all its forms, as a cornerstone of the NYU experience. We would like to better understand how your experiences would help us to shape and grow our diverse community.

Duke university.

Duke is well-known for its community essay: 

What is your sense of Duke as a university and a community, and why do you consider it a good match for you? If there’s something in particular about our offerings that attracts you, feel free to share that as well.

A top-ranked Ivy League institution, Harvard University also has a cultural diversity essay as part of its college application requirements: 

Harvard has long recognized the importance of student body diversity of all kinds. We welcome you to write about distinctive aspects of your background, personal development, or the intellectual interests you might bring to your Harvard classmates.

Johns hopkins university.

The Johns Hopkins supplement is another example of a cultural diversity essay: 

Founded in the spirit of exploration and discovery, Johns Hopkins University encourages students to share their perspectives, develop their interests, and pursue new experiences. Use this space to share something you’d like the admissions committee to know about you (your interests, your background, your identity, or your community), and how it has shaped what you want to get out of your college experience at Hopkins. 

University of michigan.

The University of Michigan requires a community essay for its application: 

Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong and describe that community and your place within it. 

Community essay examples.

The Duke and Michigan prompts are perfect illustrations of community essay examples. However, they have some critical differences. So, if you apply to both of these schools, you’ll have to change the way you approach either of these community essays. 

The Duke prompt asks you to highlight why you are a good match for the Duke community. You’ll also see this prompt in other community essay examples. To write a successful response to this prompt, you’ll need to reference offerings specific to Duke (or whichever college requires this essay). In order to know what to reference, you’ll need to do your research before you start writing. 

Consider the following questions as you write your diversity essay sample if the prompt is similar to Duke University’s

  • What values does this college community have? 
  • How do these tie in with what you value? 
  • Is there something that this college offers that matches your interests, personality, or background?  

On the other hand, the Michigan essay prompt asks you to describe a community that you belong to as well as your place within that community. This is another variation of the prompt for community essay examples. 

To write a successful response to this prompt, you’ll need to identify a community that you belong to. Then, you’ll need to think critically about how you interact with that community. 

Below are some questions to consider as you write your diversity essay sample for colleges like Michigan: 

  • Out of all the communities you belong to, which can you highlight in your response? 
  • How have you impacted this community? 
  • How has this community impacted you?

Now, in the next few sections, we’ll dive into the Georgetown supplemental essay examples, the Rice university essay examples, and the Williams supplemental essays examples. After each diversity essay sample, we’ll include a breakdown of why these are considered college essays that worked. 

Georgetown Essay Examples

As a reminder, the Georgetown essay examples respond to this prompt: 

As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.

Here is the excerpt of the diversity essay sample from our Georgetown essay examples: 

Georgetown University Essay Example

The best thing I ever did was skip eight days of school in a row. Despite the protests of teachers over missed class time, I told them that the world is my classroom. The lessons I remember most are those that took place during my annual family vacation to coastal Maine. That rural world is the most authentic and incredible classroom where learning simply happens and becomes exponential. 

Years ago, as I hunted through the rocks and seaweed for seaglass and mussels, I befriended a Maine local hauling her battered kayak on the shore. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had found a kindred spirit in Jeanne. Jeanne is a year-round resident who is more than the hard working, rugged Mainer that meets the eye; reserved and humble in nature, she is a wealth of knowledge and is self-taught through necessity. With thoughtful attention to detail, I engineered a primitive ramp made of driftwood and a pulley system to haul her kayak up the cliff. We diligently figured out complex problems and developed solutions through trial and error.

After running out of conventional materials, I recycled and reimagined items that had washed ashore. We expected to succeed, but were not afraid to fail. Working with Jeanne has been the best classroom in the world; without textbooks or technology, she has made a difference in my life. Whether building a basic irrigation system for her organic garden or installing solar panels to harness the sun’s energy, every project has shown me the value of taking action and making an impact. Each year brings a different project with new excitement and unique challenges. My resourcefulness, problem solving ability, and innovative thinking have advanced under her tutelage. 

While exploring the rocky coast of Maine, I embrace every experience as an unparalleled educational opportunity that transcends any classroom environment. I discovered that firsthand experience and real-world application of science are my best teachers. In school, applications of complex calculations and abstract theories are sometimes obscured by grades and structure. In Maine, I expand my love of science and renourish my curious spirit. I am a highly independent, frugal, resilient Mainer living as a southern girl in NC. 

Why this essay worked

This is one of the Georgetown supplemental essay examples that works, and here’s why. The author starts the essay with an interesting hook, which makes the reader want to learn more about this person and their perspective. 

Throughout the essay, the author illustrates their intellectual curiosity. From befriending Jeanne and creating a pulley system to engineering other projects on the rocky coast of Maine, the author demonstrates how they welcome challenges and work to solve problems. 

Further, the author mentions values that matter to them—taking action and making an impact. Both facets are also part of Georgetown’s core values . By making these connections in their essay, the author shows the admissions committee exactly how they would be a great fit for the Georgetown community. 

Finally, the author uses their experience in Maine to showcase their love of science, which is likely the field they will study at Georgetown. Like this writer, you should try to include most important parts of your identity into your essay. This includes things like life experiences, passions, majors, extracurricular activities for college, and more. 

Rice University Essay Examples

The Rice University essay examples are from this prompt: 

The quality of Rice’s academic life and the Residential College System are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. What personal perspective would you contribute to life at Rice? (500-word limit)

Rice university essay example.

Like every applicant, I also have a story to share. A story that makes me who I am and consists of chapters about my life experiences and adventures. Having been born in a different country, my journey to America was one of the most difficult things I had ever experienced. Everything felt different. The atmosphere, the places, the food, and especially the people. Everywhere I looked, I saw something new. Although it was a bit overwhelming, one thing had not changed.

The caring nature of the people was still prevalent in everyday interactions. I was overwhelmed by how supportive and understanding people were of one another. Whether it is race, religion, or culture, everyone was accepted and appreciated. I knew that I could be whoever I wanted to be and that the only limitation was my imagination. Through hard work and persistence I put my all in everything that I did. I get this work ethic from my father since he is living proof that anything can be accomplished with continued determination. Listening to the childhood stories he told me, my dad would reminisce about how he was born in an impoverished area in a third world country during a turbulent and unpredictable time.

Even with a passion for learning, he had to work a laborious job in an attempt to help his parents make ends meet. He talked about how he would study under the street lights when the power went out at home. His parents wanted something better for him, as did he. Not living in America changed nothing about their work ethic. His parents continued to work hard daily, in an attempt to provide for their son. My dad worked and studied countless hours, paying his way through school with jobs and scholarships. His efforts paid off when he finally moved to America and opened his own business. None of it would have been possible without tremendous effort and dedication needed for a better life, values that are instilled within me as well, and this is the perspective that I wish to bring to Rice. 

This diversity essay sample references the author’s unique life experiences and personal perspective, which makes it one example of college essays that worked. The author begins the essay by alluding to their unique story—they were born in a different country and then came to America. Instead of facing this change as a challenge, the author shows how this new experience helped them to feel comfortable with all kinds of people. They also highlight how their diversity was accepted and appreciated. 

Additionally, the author incorporates information about their father’s story, which helps to frame their own values and where those values came from. The values that they chose to highlight also fall in line with the values of the Rice community. 

Williams Supplemental Essay Examples

Let’s read the prompt that inspired so many strong Williams supplemental essays examples again: 

Every first-year student at Williams lives in an Entry—a thoughtfully constructed microcosm of the student community that’s a defining part of the Williams experience. From the moment they arrive, students find themselves in what’s likely the most diverse collection of backgrounds, perspectives and interests they’ve ever encountered. What might differentiate you from the 19 other first-year students in an entry? What perspective(s) would you add to the conversation with your peers?

Williams college essay example.

Through the flow in my head

See you clad in red

But not just the clothes

It’s your whole being

Covering in this sickening blanket

Of heat and pain

Are you in agony, I wonder?

Is this the hell they told me about?

Have we been condemned?

Reduced to nothing but pain

At least we have each other

In our envelopes of crimson

I try in vain

“Take my hands” I shriek

“Let’s protect each other, 

You and me, through this hell”

My body contorts

And deforms into nothingness

You remain the same

Clad in red

With faraway eyes

You, like a statue

Your eyes fixed somewhere else

You never see me

Just the red briefcase in your heart

We aren’t together

It’s always been me alone

While you stand there, aloof, with the briefcase in your heart.

I wrote this poem the day my prayer request for the Uighur Muslims got denied at school. At the time, I was stunned. I was taught to have empathy for those around me. Yet, that empathy disappears when told to extend it to someone different. I can’t comprehend this contradiction and I refuse to. 

At Williams, I hope to become a Community Engagement Fellow at the Davis Center. I hope to use Williams’ support for social justice and advocacy to educate my fellow classmates on social issues around the world. Williams students are not just scholars but also leaders and changemakers. Together, we can strive to better the world through advocacy.

Human’s capability for love is endless. We just need to open our hearts to everyone. 

It’s time to let the briefcase go and look at those around us with our real human eyes.

We see you now. Please forgive us.

As we mentioned above, the Williams acceptance rate is incredibly low. This makes the supplemental essay that much more important. 

This diversity essay sample works because it is personal and memorable. The author chooses to start the essay off with a poem. Which, if done right, will immediately grab the reader’s attention. 

Further, the author contextualizes the poem by explaining the circumstances surrounding it—they wrote it in response to a prayer request that was denied at school. In doing so, they also highlight their own values of empathy and embracing diversity. 

Finally, the author ends their cultural diversity essay by describing what excites them about Williams. They also discuss how they see themselves interacting within the Williams community. This is a key piece of the essay, as it helps the reader understand how the author would be a good fit for Williams. 

The examples provided within this essay also touch on issues that are important to the author, which provides a glimpse into the type of student the author would be on campus. Additionally, this response shows what potential extracurricular activities for college the author might be interested in pursuing while at Williams. 

How to Write a Cultural Diversity Essay

You want your diversity essay to stand out from any other diversity essay sample. But how do you write a successful cultural diversity essay? 

First, consider what pieces of your identity you want to highlight in your essay. Of course, race and ethnicity are important facets of diversity. However, there are plenty of other factors to consider. 

As you brainstorm, think outside the box to figure out what aspects of your identity help make up who you are. Because identity and diversity fall on a spectrum, there is no right or wrong answer here. 

Fit your ideas to the specific school

Once you’ve decided on what you want to represent in your cultural diversity essay, think about how that fits into the college of your choice. Use your cultural diversity essay to make connections to the school. If your college has specific values or programs that align with your identity, then include them in your cultural diversity essay! 

Above all, you should write about something that is important to you. Your cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay will succeed if you are passionate about your topic and willing to get personal. 

Additional Tips for Community & Cultural Diversity Essays

1. start early.

In order to create the strongest diversity essay possible, you’ll want to start early. Filling out college applications is already a time-consuming process. So, you can cut back on additional stress and anxiety by writing your cultural diversity essay as early as possible. 

2. Brainstorm

Writing a cultural diversity essay or community essay is a personal process. To set yourself up for success, take time to brainstorm and reflect on your topic. Overall, you want your cultural diversity essay to be a good indication of who you are and what makes you a unique applicant. 

3. Proofread

We can’t stress this final tip enough. Be sure to proofread your cultural diversity essay before you hit the submit button. Additionally, you can read your essay aloud to hear how it flows. You can also can ask someone you trust, like your college advisor or a teacher, to help proofread your essay as well.

Other CollegeAdvisor Essay Resources to Explore

Looking for additional resources on supplemental essays for the colleges we mentioned above? Do you need help with incorporating extracurricular activities for college into your essays or crafting a strong diversity essay sample? We’ve got you covered. 

Our how to get into Georgetown guide covers additional tips on how to approach the supplemental diversity essay. If you’re wondering how to write about community in your essay, check out our campus community article for an insider’s perspective on Williams College.

Want to learn strategies for writing compelling cultural diversity essays? Check out this Q&A webinar, featuring a former Georgetown admissions officer. And, if you’re still unsure of what to highlight in your community essay, try getting inspiration from a virtual college tour . 

Cultural Diversity Essay & Community Essay Examples – Final Thoughts

Your supplemental essays are an important piece of the college application puzzle. With colleges becoming more competitive than ever, you’ll want to do everything you can to create a strong candidate profile. This includes writing well-crafted responses for a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay. 

We hope our cultural diversity essay guide helped you learn more about this common type of supplemental essay. As you are writing your own cultural diversity essay or community essay, use the essay examples from Georgetown, Rice, and Williams above as your guide. 

Getting into top schools takes a lot more than a strong resume. Writing specific, thoughtful, and personal responses for a cultural diversity essay, gender diversity essay, or community essay will put you one step closer to maximizing your chances of admission. Good luck! is here to help you with every aspect of the college admissions process. From taking a gap year to completing enrollment , we’re here to help. Register today to receive one-on-one support from an admissions expert as you begin your college application journey.

This essay guide was written by senior advisor, Claire Babbs . Looking for more admissions support? Click here to schedule a free meeting with one of our Admissions Specialists. During your meeting, our team will discuss your profile and help you find targeted ways to increase your admissions odds at top schools. We’ll also answer any questions and discuss how can support you in the college application process.

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community building essay


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, how to write a great community service essay.

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College Admissions , Extracurriculars


Are you applying to a college or a scholarship that requires a community service essay? Do you know how to write an essay that will impress readers and clearly show the impact your work had on yourself and others?

Read on to learn step-by-step instructions for writing a great community service essay that will help you stand out and be memorable.

What Is a Community Service Essay? Why Do You Need One?

A community service essay is an essay that describes the volunteer work you did and the impact it had on you and your community. Community service essays can vary widely depending on specific requirements listed in the application, but, in general, they describe the work you did, why you found the work important, and how it benefited people around you.

Community service essays are typically needed for two reasons:

#1: To Apply to College

  • Some colleges require students to write community service essays as part of their application or to be eligible for certain scholarships.
  • You may also choose to highlight your community service work in your personal statement.

#2: To Apply for Scholarships

  • Some scholarships are specifically awarded to students with exceptional community service experiences, and many use community service essays to help choose scholarship recipients.
  • Green Mountain College offers one of the most famous of these scholarships. Their "Make a Difference Scholarship" offers full tuition, room, and board to students who have demonstrated a significant, positive impact through their community service

Getting Started With Your Essay

In the following sections, I'll go over each step of how to plan and write your essay. I'll also include sample excerpts for you to look through so you can get a better idea of what readers are looking for when they review your essay.

Step 1: Know the Essay Requirements

Before your start writing a single word, you should be familiar with the essay prompt. Each college or scholarship will have different requirements for their essay, so make sure you read these carefully and understand them.

Specific things to pay attention to include:

  • Length requirement
  • Application deadline
  • The main purpose or focus of the essay
  • If the essay should follow a specific structure

Below are three real community service essay prompts. Read through them and notice how much they vary in terms of length, detail, and what information the writer should include.

From the Equitable Excellence Scholarship:

"Describe your outstanding achievement in depth and provide the specific planning, training, goals, and steps taken to make the accomplishment successful. Include details about your role and highlight leadership you provided. Your essay must be a minimum of 350 words but not more than 600 words."

From the Laura W. Bush Traveling Scholarship:

"Essay (up to 500 words, double spaced) explaining your interest in being considered for the award and how your proposed project reflects or is related to both UNESCO's mandate and U.S. interests in promoting peace by sharing advances in education, science, culture, and communications."

From the LULAC National Scholarship Fund:

"Please type or print an essay of 300 words (maximum) on how your academic studies will contribute to your personal & professional goals. In addition, please discuss any community service or extracurricular activities you have been involved in that relate to your goals."


Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas

Even after you understand what the essay should be about, it can still be difficult to begin writing. Answer the following questions to help brainstorm essay ideas. You may be able to incorporate your answers into your essay.

  • What community service activity that you've participated in has meant the most to you?
  • What is your favorite memory from performing community service?
  • Why did you decide to begin community service?
  • What made you decide to volunteer where you did?
  • How has your community service changed you?
  • How has your community service helped others?
  • How has your community service affected your plans for the future?

You don't need to answer all the questions, but if you find you have a lot of ideas for one of two of them, those may be things you want to include in your essay.

Writing Your Essay

How you structure your essay will depend on the requirements of the scholarship or school you are applying to. You may give an overview of all the work you did as a volunteer, or highlight a particularly memorable experience. You may focus on your personal growth or how your community benefited.

Regardless of the specific structure requested, follow the guidelines below to make sure your community service essay is memorable and clearly shows the impact of your work.

Samples of mediocre and excellent essays are included below to give you a better idea of how you should draft your own essay.

Step 1: Hook Your Reader In

You want the person reading your essay to be interested, so your first sentence should hook them in and entice them to read more. A good way to do this is to start in the middle of the action. Your first sentence could describe you helping build a house, releasing a rescued animal back to the wild, watching a student you tutored read a book on their own, or something else that quickly gets the reader interested. This will help set your essay apart and make it more memorable.

Compare these two opening sentences:

"I have volunteered at the Wishbone Pet Shelter for three years."

"The moment I saw the starving, mud-splattered puppy brought into the shelter with its tail between its legs, I knew I'd do whatever I could to save it."

The first sentence is a very general, bland statement. The majority of community service essays probably begin a lot like it, but it gives the reader little information and does nothing to draw them in. On the other hand, the second sentence begins immediately with action and helps persuade the reader to keep reading so they can learn what happened to the dog.

Step 2: Discuss the Work You Did

Once you've hooked your reader in with your first sentence, tell them about your community service experiences. State where you work, when you began working, how much time you've spent there, and what your main duties include. This will help the reader quickly put the rest of the essay in context and understand the basics of your community service work.


Not including basic details about your community service could leave your reader confused.

Step 3: Include Specific Details

It's the details of your community service that make your experience unique and memorable, so go into the specifics of what you did.

For example, don't just say you volunteered at a nursing home; talk about reading Mrs. Johnson her favorite book, watching Mr. Scott win at bingo, and seeing the residents play games with their grandchildren at the family day you organized. Try to include specific activities, moments, and people in your essay. Having details like these let the readers really understand what work you did and how it differs from other volunteer experiences.

Compare these two passages:

"For my volunteer work, I tutored children at a local elementary school. I helped them improve their math skills and become more confident students."

"As a volunteer at York Elementary School, I worked one-on-one with second and third graders who struggled with their math skills, particularly addition, subtraction, and fractions. As part of my work, I would create practice problems and quizzes and try to connect math to the students' interests. One of my favorite memories was when Sara, a student I had been working with for several weeks, told me that she enjoyed the math problems I had created about a girl buying and selling horses so much that she asked to help me create math problems for other students."

The first passage only gives basic information about the work done by the volunteer; there is very little detail included, and no evidence is given to support her claims. How did she help students improve their math skills? How did she know they were becoming more confident?

The second passage is much more detailed. It recounts a specific story and explains more fully what kind of work the volunteer did, as well as a specific instance of a student becoming more confident with her math skills. Providing more detail in your essay helps support your claims as well as make your essay more memorable and unique.

Step 4: Show Your Personality

It would be very hard to get a scholarship or place at a school if none of your readers felt like they knew much about you after finishing your essay, so make sure that your essay shows your personality. The way to do this is to state your personal strengths, then provide examples to support your claims. Take some time to think about which parts of your personality you would like your essay to highlight, then write about specific examples to show this.

  • If you want to show that you're a motivated leader, describe a time when you organized an event or supervised other volunteers.
  • If you want to show your teamwork skills, write about a time you helped a group of people work together better.
  • If you want to show that you're a compassionate animal lover, write about taking care of neglected shelter animals and helping each of them find homes.

Step 5: State What You Accomplished

After you have described your community service and given specific examples of your work, you want to begin to wrap your essay up by stating your accomplishments. What was the impact of your community service? Did you build a house for a family to move into? Help students improve their reading skills? Clean up a local park? Make sure the impact of your work is clear; don't be worried about bragging here.

If you can include specific numbers, that will also strengthen your essay. Saying "I delivered meals to 24 home-bound senior citizens" is a stronger example than just saying "I delivered meals to lots of senior citizens."

Also be sure to explain why your work matters. Why is what you did important? Did it provide more parks for kids to play in? Help students get better grades? Give people medical care who would otherwise not have gotten it? This is an important part of your essay, so make sure to go into enough detail that your readers will know exactly what you accomplished and how it helped your community.

"My biggest accomplishment during my community service was helping to organize a family event at the retirement home. The children and grandchildren of many residents attended, and they all enjoyed playing games and watching movies together."

"The community service accomplishment that I'm most proud of is the work I did to help organize the First Annual Family Fun Day at the retirement home. My job was to design and organize fun activities that senior citizens and their younger relatives could enjoy. The event lasted eight hours and included ten different games, two performances, and a movie screening with popcorn. Almost 200 residents and family members attended throughout the day. This event was important because it provided an opportunity for senior citizens to connect with their family members in a way they aren't often able to. It also made the retirement home seem more fun and enjoyable to children, and we have seen an increase in the number of kids coming to visit their grandparents since the event."

The second passage is stronger for a variety of reasons. First, it goes into much more detail about the work the volunteer did. The first passage only states that she helped "organize a family event." That really doesn't tell readers much about her work or what her responsibilities were. The second passage is much clearer; her job was to "design and organize fun activities."

The second passage also explains the event in more depth. A family day can be many things; remember that your readers are likely not familiar with what you're talking about, so details help them get a clearer picture.

Lastly, the second passage makes the importance of the event clear: it helped residents connect with younger family members, and it helped retirement homes seem less intimidating to children, so now some residents see their grand kids more often.

Step 6: Discuss What You Learned

One of the final things to include in your essay should be the impact that your community service had on you. You can discuss skills you learned, such as carpentry, public speaking, animal care, or another skill.

You can also talk about how you changed personally. Are you more patient now? More understanding of others? Do you have a better idea of the type of career you want? Go into depth about this, but be honest. Don't say your community service changed your life if it didn't because trite statements won't impress readers.

In order to support your statements, provide more examples. If you say you're more patient now, how do you know this? Do you get less frustrated while playing with your younger siblings? Are you more willing to help group partners who are struggling with their part of the work? You've probably noticed by now that including specific examples and details is one of the best ways to create a strong and believable essay .

"As a result of my community service, I learned a lot about building houses and became a more mature person."

"As a result of my community service, I gained hands-on experience in construction. I learned how to read blueprints, use a hammer and nails, and begin constructing the foundation of a two-bedroom house. Working on the house could be challenging at times, but it taught me to appreciate the value of hard work and be more willing to pitch in when I see someone needs help. My dad has just started building a shed in our backyard, and I offered to help him with it because I know from my community service how much work it is. I also appreciate my own house more, and I know how lucky I am to have a roof over my head."

The second passage is more impressive and memorable because it describes the skills the writer learned in more detail and recounts a specific story that supports her claim that her community service changed her and made her more helpful.

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Step 7: Finish Strong

Just as you started your essay in a way that would grab readers' attention, you want to finish your essay on a strong note as well. A good way to end your essay is to state again the impact your work had on you, your community, or both. Reiterate how you changed as a result of your community service, why you found the work important, or how it helped others.

Compare these two concluding statements:

"In conclusion, I learned a lot from my community service at my local museum, and I hope to keep volunteering and learning more about history."

"To conclude, volunteering at my city's American History Museum has been a great experience. By leading tours and participating in special events, I became better at public speaking and am now more comfortable starting conversations with people. In return, I was able to get more community members interested in history and our local museum. My interest in history has deepened, and I look forward to studying the subject in college and hopefully continuing my volunteer work at my university's own museum."

The second passage takes each point made in the first passage and expands upon it. In a few sentences, the second passage is able to clearly convey what work the volunteer did, how she changed, and how her volunteer work benefited her community.

The author of the second passage also ends her essay discussing her future and how she'd like to continue her community service, which is a good way to wrap things up because it shows your readers that you are committed to community service for the long-term.

What's Next?

Are you applying to a community service scholarship or thinking about it? We have a complete list of all the community service scholarships available to help get your search started!

Do you need a community service letter as well? We have a step-by-step guide that will tell you how to get a great reference letter from your community service supervisor.

Thinking about doing community service abroad? Before you sign up, read our guide on some of the hazards of international volunteer trips and how to know if it's the right choice for you.

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?   We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download them for free now:

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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  • Essay on Conversation

Good Example Of Community Building Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Conversation , Literature , Books , Food , People , Talk , Anxiety , Kindness

Published: 02/20/2023


I decided to conduct my meeting at the library in the Patrick Henry HOP because I thought that talking with someone strangers at the cafeteria will be too hard for me. It is better not to disturb people while they are eating because practice shows that no one likes it. So I went to the library. I noticed interesting thing that people react more nervously when they see me than, for example, if some European of American man is near them. I confuse them. I chose one girl to seat with her because I noticed that she had book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon and I heard a lot of positive feedback from my friends about it. It was hard to start conversation because I was afraid to disturb her or alert but she first noticed me looking at that book and at her so I started conversation. At first she was nervous and not so eager to talk with me but I explained that I wanted to read this book and that I was not trying to disturb her. She was closed but then opened up a little bit but still she was a bit alerted. Her name is Casey Murray, she is American, a sophomore and she is majored in Hospitality and Tourism Management and that book was for her friend. We started talking about this book and I found out that her friend`s major is Phycology and she needed that book for her research paper about Asperger`s syndrome. Then we talked about studying issues like deadlines, exams and so on. I noticed that she was not so eager to continue conversation because her answers on my questions were like “yes, no, maybe”. I understood that my usual questions like “What music do you like?” or “Do you like to travel?” would be inappropriate because it was obvious that she could not relate to me and relax while I was near her. So I thanked her for telling me about that book and apologized for disturbing her. This relaxed her and she wished me good luck. All things considered it was interesting and hard experience because I once more was convinced that people feel anxiety and alertness near me. They do not want to talk to me unless it is forced or necessary. I can feel barrier between me and them and I am the only one who wants to break it. I am not sure if I am ready to do this once more not like an assignment because while talking several times I wanted to say that it was for assignment. It was very hard for me because of language barrier and my ethnicity probably. People do not want to talk to me that easily so it complicates my communication with them.

My Random Act of Kindness

For my “Random Act of Kindness” I chose to give a carepack to a homeless man. In my neighborhood there is one old man who always hangs out near shop. He seems to be adequate and not an alcoholic so I decided to help him with my carepack. I bought some toiletries like toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, deodorant, snacks, gloves and warm socks. Also, I decided to give him food that I cooked by myself. At first as I approached him he gave me angry and nervous look and after I greeted him he became more nervous than before. I was ready for this reaction. Then I introduced myself and explained that I wanted to help him by giving him this carepack and food. He was very skeptical and critical at first and could not believe that someone like me can give him some toiletries and food just like that. But then I explained to him that I understand how hard it is to have nothing and that all people should help each other no matter what. He accepted everything I gave him and thanked me a lot because he truly needed it. Then he said that no one cares about him so he lost his faith in humanity. We talked a little bit and I understood that he was closed but not nervous or anything like that. He did not want to talk about himself so I explained what food I gave him because I cooked my traditional food. We chatted about it and I felt happy because he treated me more warmly than others. He accepted me even though I have different origin. While my “Random Act of Kindness” and my experience with this homeless man I felt positive emotions and I realized that there can be situations even harder than I can ever imagine. I understood that I can improve someone’s life a little bit. I defiantly will do RAOK again because it is great that such small gestures can help someone. Also, feeling of happiness and realization that you can change world for someone is great even if it is some carepack and food.


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