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Four ways to ace the short answer responses on your City Year application

Tips for the City Year application’s short answer section

As you make your way through the City Year application, you may find it challenging to respond to the short-answer questions. Fear not! We’re here with a few tips to help you tell your story and communicate your motivation to join City Year.

These suggestions are not a comprehensive list, nor are you expected to incorporate all of them in your short answer response. Rather, they provide a helpful starting point to get you one step closer to serving with City Year.

City Year member and student at school

Lead with your passion

We want to know what inspires you — and we know that inspiration takes many forms. If you have a passion for serving your community, here is your chance to tell us all about it. Tell us about a book drive you participated in or a community service event you helped to organize. We want to know what brought you to City Year and why our mission to support students and schools resonates with you. What attracted you to City Year over other opportunities? How does the chance to serve with City Year connect to your values and past experiences?

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Check out this City Year AmeriCorps member’s inspiration to serve: Amari Traylor who served with City Year Sacramento in 2020-2021.

Tell your story

Admissions staff at City Year read countless applications over the course of the application cycle. Stories are more memorable than bullets on a resume. The most compelling applications include short answer responses where applicants tell their stories of helping others, being helped by mentors or other caring adults, or their perseverance through challenges. Tell us your story and how that connects to your desire to join City Year. Be yourself and stay true to your own story. Your voice and lived experience matter to us.

Bring your resume to life

Your answer can add vibrancy and context to your qualifications and experiences. Explain how your past experiences have prepared you to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps member. If you have experience serving on teams, working with children, volunteering, tutoring or mentoring, we definitely want to hear about it. Be specific; details and tangible examples will help illustrate your work and achievements. And if you can explain how those experiences align with City Year’s work and have prepared you to serve with us, even better!

Remember why we serve

You may want to serve with City Year for personal benefit (i.e., the experience you’ll gain, building your resume, the Segal Education Award, etc.), and there is nothing wrong with that. Your service year should and will help you grow and learn. Still, it’s vital that you understand your service year isn’t exclusively about you.

We have a saying at City Year: “Never forget the human element of our work.” We are a team-based organization at every level, and as an AmeriCorps member, you will be working and serving with a diverse and dynamic team of your peers. Expressing what you will bring to the team is important for us in understanding your motivation to serve.

Additionally, keep in mind the communities and students we serve. This work can be difficult and, at times, exhausting, but it can also be inspiring and life changing. Showing up as your best self is important to our mission of helping students thrive, set meaningful goals and realize their full potential. When times get tough for our students, they need to know that you will be there with the same energy and commitment on the challenging days along with the great ones.

Using these tips, show us who you truly are and why you want to dedicate a year of your life to serving others. If you take the time to reflect with us, share your story and display your commitment to the City Year mission, you’ll be well on your way to submitting a City Year application you can be proud of!

Connect with us to learn more about City Year, or start your application today!

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