Are you a high school student that needs to keep a volunteer hours log? If you plan to attend college, you should keep a log of ALL community service during high school. When you start filling out the Common App in the fall of your senior year, it will be a ton easier if you have a log of all your hours. Try using the Notion template below to help you keep track of everything.
Some college admissions “experts” don’t see the need for volunteering during high school. I have two daughters in college and both of them included community service in their college applications. I have no doubt, their service improved their applications. Colleges, obviously want students with good grades and test scores, that is a given. What sets students apart from each other is what they do with their free time. I believe colleges want students that are going to give back to the university. Community service is a great way to show you are willing to give back.
Easy Steps to Create a Volunteer Hours Log with Notion
1. Understand the Common App: Activity Section
The first thing you need to understand is what you will need to enter into the Common App’s Activity Section. At the time of this writing, you can add up to 10 different activities. This section is where you will enter in all of your extracurricular activities, including volunteer hours. You will need to enter the following for each activity:
- Activity Type – there are many types to choose, this post focused on Community Service (Volunteer)
- Position/Leadership Description (50 character limit)
- Organization Name (100 character limit)
- Details, Honors Won and Accomplishments (150 character limit)
- Participation Grade Levels (9th thru 12th grades)
- Timing of Participation (school year, school break or all year)
- Hours Spent Per Week
- Weeks Spent Per Year
- Intend to Participate in Similar Activity in College (they want to know how involved you plan to be)
So you will need to keep track of all hours for each activity over the course of four years. For example, if you volunteered for your local food pantry, you need to keep track of how many hours you volunteered per week AND weeks per year for FOUR years.
Check out this video from the College Essay Guy about the Common App Activities List. This will give you some great tips on HOW to best enter the activities. This log just helps you build the list of options of things to include.
2. Download Notion
Next, let me tell you a little about Notion. Notion is an all-in-one online workspace that allows you to have a task list, notes, calendar, and databases in one location. At the time of this writing, it is FREE to use, and it syncs across all of your devices (yes, it has an app for both iOS and Android). I have been using Notion for a few years and they keep making worthwhile improvements.
Notion is a collection of blocks that can be linked and moved around. Pretty much everything is a block – text, headers, pages, images, databases, etc. I don’t plan on going into detail on how to navigate around the workspace in Notion here, because there are lots of great YouTube videos out there that will give you the basics. If you are new to Notion, I recommend checking out the Thomas Frank Explains YouTube channel.
To download the app, go to Notion.so. I am an Apple user, so I cannot speak to the Android app, but I imagine it works just as well. I am constantly looking for a better way to organize my tasks, notes, and projects. Notion is a great fit for keeping a volunteer hours log.
3. Download my FREE Volunteer Hours Log Notion Template
Now that you have installed Notion, you just need my volunteer hours log template to get started. You can use this template for ALL of your activities as well. I have also included an example set of the two tables, so you can see how it works with a sample set of hours and organizations
This template is comprised of one page that includes the following:
- Organization Table – a list all of your volunteer (or other activity) organizations
- Volunteer Hours Log Table – to track of all of your hours
- Organization Table Example
- Volunteer Hours Log Table Example
Make sure you install Notion and then click here to download the template.
4. Update the Organization Table
As you move through your four years of high school, add every organization you work with into this table. I recommend updating this at the beginning or end of every semester. Feel free to delete any organizations that you don’t need.
If you are using this log for all of your extracurriculars, just update the Organization Table with the name of the activity organization and then record the hours in the hours log. I have included a couple of examples of school organizations in the template, so you can see how it works will other activities.
5. Update Volunteer Hours Log Table
I would recommend entering your hours weekly if at all possible. Pick a time each week just to input what you worked on that week. At the very least, do it every month. It is difficult to look at an entire school year and try to remember how you spent your time. When you get ready to start filling out the Common App, you don’t want to have to rack your brain to remember what you did during freshman year!
6. Sorting, Filtering & Grouping the Volunteer Hours Log
By having all of this information in a Notion database, you can slice and dice the information in so many ways.
I have setup 3 predefined sorts by Organization, Activity and Date. You can totally change these if a different sort makes more sense to you. Just click on the 3 sorts button at the top of the table.
There are 2 predefined “inactive” filters on Organization & School Year. To “activate” the filter, you will need to click on the filter button at the top of the table and select the Organization or School Year. You can change the filters as well, if a different one would help you in your analysis. Just click the “+ Add filter” at the top of the database table.
Notion only allows one Grouping at a time, so I have the template setup to group by Organization.
If you have a ton of hours to sort through, grouping by Organization Name will help you see how much time you spent for that organization for each school year. In addition, you will easily be able to see the hours you spent each week and the number of weeks per year.
This grouping will give you the ability to look at all of your hours and figure out which Activity Organizations you are going to include in the 10 activity spots.
7. Easily Enter Volunteer Hours into the Common App
Now that you have a log, use it all throughout high school. Weekly updates of this log, will make your life so much easier when the time comes to fill out the Common App. You will have more time to focus on everyone’s favorite part…the essays! Good luck as you finish your time high school !
If you missed the link to the Notion template, you can get it HERE.
This post is all about creating a volunteer hours log with Notion.
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