Feb 20, 2010

Area Colleges and Universities Earn Honors as Top Volunteer-Producers for the Peace Corps

The Peace Corps recently announced its annual rankings of the top Peace Corps volunteer-producing colleges and universities. As in previous years, colleges located in the DC metropolitan area were well represented in each of three categories of institutions reported.

For the second year in a row, the George Washington University ranked number one in the medium college and university category with 53 undergraduate alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps. American University came in second with 51 volunteers, followed by the College of William and Mary (40) and Georgetown (30) ranking 5th and 8th respectively.

With 23 alums currently serving, the University of Mary Washington came in second among small schools. St. Mary’s College of Maryland followed in 7th place with 19 active volunteers. And despite being among the smallest of the large colleges and universities listed, UVA ranked 10th for producing 64 Peace Corps volunteers.

In 2009, the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area produced the greatest number of volunteers in a ranking of large metropolitan areas. Per capita, the District of Columba (7.8/100k) came in second place for producing the most volunteers—second only to Vermont (9.7/100k).

Currently, there are 7671 Peace Corps volunteers serving in 76 host countries around the world. A college degree is not mandatory for service, but relevant experience in areas such as education, health, business, IAT, environment, and agriculture is required. In 2009, the Peace Corps received over 15,000 applications, an 18 percent increase over 2008—the largest number since the agency began electronically recording applications in 1998.

In surveys of college freshman, the availability of on-campus volunteer opportunities is becoming increasingly more important. According to the CIRP Freshman Survey, 56 percent of incoming first-year students reported volunteering frequently during their high school years and a record number indicated that they expected to participate in community service or volunteer work during their college years. Evidently, that interest in civic engagement among college students is contributing to greater numbers of Peace Corps volunteers.

The Peace Corps’ nine regional offices located across the US recruit and provide information and guidance to prospective volunteers including current undergraduates. Potential applicants can connect with local recruiters by visiting the Peace Corps website.

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