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Preparing for the Peace Corps

Posted on 14 August 2008

A Checklist for College Students

It’s never too early to start learning about the Peace Corps! And even though graduation may seem a long way off, there are some things you can do now that could help you qualify for Peace Corps programs when the time comes to apply.

Freshmen and Sophomores

  • Attend a Peace Corps event. Go to a Peace Corps general information meeting when a recruiter visits your college campus. There, you’ll learn the basics about the Peace Corps’ mission and its programs overseas. You might see a video or slide presentation. And you’ll meet Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and hear their firsthand stories about life overseas. Look on our Web site for a list of upcoming general information meetings on your campus or in your local community.
  • Read about the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps Web site is a great place to start, but many Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have published books about their experiences. Click here to see a reading list of books by Returned Peace Corps Volunteer authors.
  • Take French or Spanish. The ability to learn a new language is an important ingredient in a successful Peace Corps experience. Many Peace Corps Volunteer assignments require at least one year of college-level (or two years’ high school-level) French or Spanish. Which language should you choose? If you are interested in serving in Africa, take French; if your interest is in Latin America, take Spanish. Keep in mind that in today’s Peace Corps, there is a greater need for French speakers than for Spanish speakers. Also, while language skill will make your application more competitive, it is not the only factor determining where you will go.
  • Get involved! Peace Corps service is a big commitment that requires an ability to work well with others, organize and lead projects, and motivate groups of people. Getting involved in extracurricular activities — clubs, volunteer work, sports, or other campus or community organizations-will help you gain valuable experiences and leadership skills you’ll need as a Peace Corps Volunteer. And they will strengthen your Peace Corps application when the time comes to apply.

Juniors

  • Learn a language. Start (or continue) studying French or Spanish, and keep up those extracurricular activities. Volunteer work and campus and community involvement can help you qualify for Peace Corps service, and now is a great time to start getting involved.
  • Attend a Peace Corps event. If you haven’t already done so, attend a Peace Corps general information meeting. Look on our Web site for a list of upcoming general information meetings on your campus or in your local community.
  • Pick up a Peace Corps application. You can get an application by calling the Peace Corps at (800) 424-8580, or by requesting one through our Web site. Also, many college and university career centers have copies of the Peace Corps application, the recruitment catalog, and our recruitment video, “How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference?”
  • Submit your application this year! Thanks to Peace Corps’ new early admissions policy, if you apply by the end of your junior year, you could receive your Peace Corps invitation — and know your Peace Corps country and job assignment — as early as semester break your senior year.

Seniors

  • Qualifying. Concerned about whether or not you’ll qualify to become a Peace Corps Volunteer? Call your local Recruiting Office to find out. Dial (800)424-8580, press “1,” and ask to speak with a recruiter. Recruiters are happy to answer questions over the phone! They can suggest ways for you to become qualified for certain Peace Corps assignments, and they can refer you to volunteer organizations in your community where you can gain skills and experiences to strengthen your application.

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