When the counselors in our office are reading admissions applications, one of the things we look at is how an applicant uses their available time. While we can not say an exact amount of emphasis activities count within the review process, it is important to our review. We do not classify one activity as better than another (such as quilting over baseball, or the science club over the debate team). What we are looking at is what you are active in, how active are you (how long have you been involved, leadership, etc), and how has this impacted both you and your community. If you are a part of your school’s theater group or sports team, you are both representing your school, performing for an audience, and putting in time and effort.
We look at volunteering in the same way, with a focus on commitment and impact on the community. But one thing I want to stress is that UGA does not require community service, and just like other activities, we suggest you only be involved if you truly desire to be involved. Don’t come at this situation by looking at it as a way to boost your profile or make your application look better. Do it, or don’t do it, because you want to. One thing that is a little more apparent when volunteering is the impact to the community, as (hopefully) a person is volunteering specifically to help out others. This does not mean volunteering is better than another activity, all it means is that tells us more about who is impacted and your motivation.
Lastly, I would suggest that if you write about a volunteer experience, especially if you help disadvantaged communities, you should review your essay. More times than we would like to count, our counselors have read an essay where one of the closing lines begins with “I am now much more thankful for all that I have…”. While we understand this response, we hope that your time interacting with a culture, background or situation that is different from yours may bring about personal growth and insight about the larger world.
Overall, find activities you love, and if volunteering is one of those activities, we hope you make an impact both for others and yourself.