Adler says there's an "unfortunate myth" circulating amongst high school students that doing community service projects abroad—such as building Haitian schools—is "a magic bullet for college admissions." Not only is she noticing more high school students participating in community service projects, but she's also finding more college students going on alternative breaks. She says college students tend to sign up for alternative breaks more for "a cool opportunity presented by their college" than to improve their graduate school applications.
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Goodman, who has also noticed more college students going on alternative breaks, says he's sometimes in the ironic position of trying to encourage students to take time off, rather than spending "every waking minute [trying] to do everything they possibly can for their future."
If students still want to participate in an alternative break with the hopes of leveraging it for a future application, Goodman asks them the same questions he raises when they talk about internships or jobs: What skills are they actually learning, and how will those skills help them in their careers?
"Is Harvard Business School going to take you because you spent four days in New Orleans?" he says. "That's unrealistic."
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