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How to shine as a City Year applicant

An AmeriCorps member sits at a table in a school library.

Show us what you're made of!

When working on your City Year application (or any application for that matter) it's important to share who you are, not just what you've done. Who you are tells the admissions committee a lot about what you'll bring to the students and schools you'll serve, and to a City Year team. But how can you convey the depth and uniqueness of your whole self in one online application? Here are some tips from our Recruitment and Admissions department.

Tell a story

Storytelling is an incredibly effective tool for communication -- use it! While your experience working with youth with your school's mentoring program may have helped you grow as a leader, there are likely dozens of other applicants who have a similar answer. It's not enough to say that you've grown. Instead, tell us the story of how you grew. We want to know: What did you experience mentally and emotionally throughout that process? Was there a particular young person who challenged or inspired you? How has that experience influenced your decisions moving forward? And don't forget to bring it all full circle; tell us why that makes you a good fit for City Year.

Your application is just the start of the conversation

You shouldn't feel like you have to convey everything in one application. Trying to cram everything in may allow you to touch upon many things, but it doesn't allow you to dig deeper. Include thoughtful responses that make your admission team want to learn more. Hitting "submit" will not be your only interaction with City Year. You'll be invited to an interview and will have the opportunity to elaborate on your skills, experience and interests.

You'll also be able to engage with our staff. Whether you're looking to discuss everyday realities of the corps experience, logistical details and next steps, budgeting on the AmeriCorps stipend or where in the U.S. to serve, we'd love to see you connect with us.

Know what you're signing up for

City Year is a unique program and there are many elements that set us apart from other national service opportunities, so get educated! Do your basic research to learn about how we work in schools to help students stay on track to graduate. Ask your recruiter clarifying questions. (Don't have a recruiter? Complete this form to get connected to a recruiter near you!) This kind of proactive information seeking will ensure that your decision to apply to City Year is well-informed, plus it shows us that you're passionate about serving with City Year. Passion is a necessity, so show it by being prepared!

Be authentic

We're not looking for "the right answer." We are, however, looking for insight into how you've become the person you are today. Answer the short answer question honestly and from the heart. If a program or activity deeply affected you, or City Year's culture or values truly resonate with you, it will shine through when you write about it. The most impressive essays allow us to get an honest depiction of how you've grown and changed through your experience.

Learn more about service with City Year:

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in 2015 and was written by Hilary Ippolito, former City Year Regional Recruitment Manager, Northeast Region. It was updated and reposted in 2019.


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