Wednesday, 18 October 2017

How taking social action can help you stand out

Making your UCAS application stand out from the crowd can be challenging. One thing you could consider is taking part in ‘social action’ to show you’re a motivated, disciplined, and resilient person.

By social action we mean campaigning, fundraising, or even volunteering. This can give you something unique to talk about in your personal statement, and can reinforce your commitment to your chosen study area. There are loads of organisations you can contact to discuss opportunities – from the Scouts and Girl Guides, to your local council.

We’re Step Up To Serve, a charity that coordinates the #iwill campaign. We work with over 750 organisations across the education, business, voluntary, and health sectors, to ensure every young person has the opportunity to take part in social action.

The beauty of social action is that it has a double benefit – both to the communities you serve, and to you taking part.

Anita said she ‘found that being involved in social action before heading to university made me a more confident person, which helped me to interact and meet new students from diverse backgrounds. Having set up my own campaigns since the age of 16, university gave me the confidence and encouragement I needed to lead workshops and join mental health societies to benefit other students in Belfast.’ 

We also have #iwill ambassadors – young people who are chosen because they’ve done sensational things for their community, changed their own lives, and the lives of others.

Getting involved in social action can also help you in other ways.

  1. Helping you make the transition to uni.
‘Social action helped me develop the grit resilience and life skills I needed to help me deal with the transition into university life. It gave me the opportunity to find my voice, share it, and feel confident in my skills and opinions – meaning I came to uni much more confident and optimistic than I would have!’ says Jack, who has campaigned on mental health and volunteered with the Scouts.

  1. Helping you meet new people.
Naomi volunteers for NSPCC, and for her ‘moving to university was a big deal and big change. I was really worried about not fitting in because I don't really drink and didn't want to go out all the time. But social action provided me that opportunity to meet people. And once social action has supported you getting into university, and then made your time there amazing, it doesn’t stop giving.”

  1. Giving you something else to add to your CV.
‘Once I graduated, I was surprised by how much employers valued the social action that I'd been involved with. Many employers have remarked that volunteering and campaigning was just as important as work experience, showing initiative and a good work ethic. Many of my answers in my job interview related to examples of volunteering during university, and it helped me get the graduate job I have now!’ Megan first got involved in social action through the National Citizens Service, and now does so with Vinspired, and at her university.

From 20 – 24 November, our partners across the campaign are celebrating #iwillweek. Throughout the week, we will be working with hundreds of organisations to celebrate young people, and the impact they’ve had on their local communities, as well as the work of our partners to extend these opportunities to all young people. 

So, if you’re interested in taking part in social action, take a look at organisations who can offer opportunities to you at

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