Many high schools make sure students go through some sort of a civic project, for several reasons.
For students applying for a Bright Futures scholarship, the community service requirement is 75 hours. International Baccalaureate students have to do an additional 150 hours as part of their program.
Michael Burkett, a guidance counselor at Palm Harbor University High, said he knows of students who clocked in more than 500 hours of service.
If the competition for admissions is fierce, or a student has borderline grades, community service may boost their chances.
However, most colleges are not interested in a laundry list of activities, said Bob Spatig, the University of South Florida's director of undergraduate admissions. They want to know "what the students' true passions are," he said.
Some tips from Spatig and Burkett:
• Do the service because you want to, not because you think it'll look good on your application. Admissions officials say they can tell.
• Look for projects that have a social impact.
• Work on a project related to the field you want to study. For instance, if you want to be a nurse or doctor, volunteer at a hospital. It shows you're serious about a career in the medical field.