5 Tips for Getting into the Peace Corps

This year Peace Corps completely revamped their application process! What does this mean for you?  It means the notoriously cumbersome Peace Corps application can now be completed in about 1 hour,  making the legendary program as competitive as some of the top jobs in the country. Check out our tips as you embark on the application process.

1. Talk to a recruiter

You know how your high school counselor told you to visit university campuses and meet with their admissions office? Well, if you’re interested in Peace Corps programs, we suggest you meet with your local Peace Corps recruiter for the most up-to-date, official program information. You can find one here. If you identify as LBGT and want more info on what it is like to serve in the Peace Corps, check out lbgtrpcv.org.

 2. Time Your Program

The majority of Peace Corps programs commence in late spring/early summer (after most students graduate). Positions tend to be posted 7-9 months prior to departure and are updated about every 3 months. This means the majority of positions will be posted between September and November, so plan ahead.

3. Brows Positions

The Peace Corps admission team wants to see that you did your research (this is a good tip for all professional applications). Take the time to look through the database of positions and consider the locations, focus areas (education, health, etc.) and even specific titles (e.g., Primary Education English Teacher) that fit your goals and preferences. In the second stage of your application, you will indicate the programs you are interested in. DO NOT select a region with a focus area that does not have any open positions. For example, if you are interested in education and living in Colombia, but Colombia does not have any open teaching positions, do not mark “Location: Colombia, Focus: Education.” This oversight in matching open opportunities to your preferences will affect consideration of your application.

4. Be Open

The application will allow you to list 3 preferred locations/focus areas. Broadening your preferences (i.e., all of sub-Saharan Africa), the larger the pool of available positions available to you.  With this said, if you select “Anywhere needed,” be prepared to be sent ANYWHERE. Also, keep in mind there is an additional comments box; this is a great place to mention any exceptions in your preferences, and to demonstrate that you considered all of your options. You could say: “I am open to going anywhere as long as it never drops below negative 10 degrees Celsius. Thus, the teaching positions in East Asia are my top choices.”

5. Make Sure That You Can Handle It

Know that the Peace Corps is not for everyone. Be realistic in your preferences and your goals, and your commitment to the opportunity. The best candidates should possess a sense of adventure and a willingness to learn.  And you had better be up for your restroom being a hole in the ground, which may or may not be inhabited by snakes (speaking from experience here).  Every position in the Peace Corps database contains a “Living Conditions” section; read it, then imagine yourself in that environment. Do you look happy? If so, great! If not, the NGS guides are available to talk you through the decision process and the  alternatives to Peace Corps. Sign up for a one-on-one session with a NGS guide here.


Sign-up for a One-on-one Session

Stories of Service


To all the RPCVs out there feel free to add your tips bellow!


Making Civics Sexy: Turning Millennial’s Opt-Out to Opt-In

Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University and author of The Gardens of Democracy, believes that U.S. citizens have given away their power to the few who remain engaged. He specifically calls out millennials for “opting-out and turning to volunteerism.”


Although Liu makes some insightful observations, he overlooks the connection of volunteerism with civic engagement. Volunteer service, specifically those that are long term with stipends, can be a classroom for understanding power and providing the fuel needed to fight the strong “concentration of clout.” More than focusing on how to manipulate power, we should focus on empowerment.  That means achieving for the greater good and making that achievement a priority.  Only with volunteers is that possible.


Lui identifies cities as a vacuum of civic engagement. “There is no better arena in our time to the practicing of power than the city.”  Isn’t that exactly what volunteers do when they dedicate their time to their communities?  Programs like AmeriCorps, Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Jewish Volunteer Corps occupy nearly every city in the United States.  They work with the sick, the poor and the uninformed.  It is our volunteers who work directly with those who are most disempowered and MOST dependent on decisions made by those in power.


In other words, in volunteerism, there are programs that support young, idealistic, recent graduates as they work with people neglected and disempowered by the system.


These programs lead to two outcomes:


1. Volunteers work to empower the underrepresented portions of our nation by providing housing, education, job training and access to food. These are basic building blocks that some may take for granted but will give those who are underrepresented the ability to sustain a life where they can get involved in civics and have a voice.


2. Alumni of these programs carry with them the understanding and stories of these disadvantaged populations with them through their careers and in turn, understand civic duty and how they can make the needed changes to best our communities.


Lui shares this definition of power: “Capacity to make others do what you would have them do.” That is scary, especially scary if you have lived and worked among those who are most controlled.  In my opinion, greater awareness is power.


How can volunteerism be used to re-engage millennials and spur innovations that address issues of social justice?


If young people understood these long-term programs as entryways to education in power would they be more likely to engage?


comment bellow!

Written by Anna Lenhart

Edited By Michelle Sousa