So you want to do community service. You got a big heart, homeskillet, and we’re proud of you. Here’s what community service in high school all about and how you can find causes and opportunities that fit you.
As a high school student, you likely have a lot of things you want to accomplish. Before you fling your graduation cap into the air, you want to make memories, ace your classes, and get into a good college. But there’s one important goal you shouldn’t forget about in college: giving back to society.
I speak from experience when I say that community service is one of the most rewarding, edifying, and satisfying experiences you can have in high school, simply due to the level of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and empathy you stand to gain.
Community service is an integral part of high school life, regardless of where you live or where you want to go to college. Logging community service hours, reflecting on your work, planning projects, and dedicating your time towards meaningful activities can become a regular part of your daily schedule, from freshman to senior year.
Not only does community service make you a more competitive student with an impressive college, scholarship, and internship résumé, but it is also a pivotal part of character building, skill development, working as a team with your friends and classmates, and spending more time to engage with your school, community, and society.
Related: Volunteering on Your College Applications
Indeed, there are many ways in which you can garner more community service credits and experience in high school. It may seem rather daunting initially, but as you commit more time to community service and become acquainted with the demands and expectations of the endeavor, it will become an enjoyable experience. You may even begin to look forward to after some time!
Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to becoming involved in community service as a high school student.
Finding the right community service opportunity
As community service can take on so many forms, you need to make some decisions about what you’re looking for and what works best for you.
Given the many pressing social issues we have in the world, there are so many volunteer initiatives you can become a part of locally or even nationally. So think about your passions and interests. Some people enjoy spending time with the elderly and talking to people, while others like taking part in fundraising drives. Some people could spend all afternoon playing with children; others might want to distribute food at a pantry or deliver meals. If you have multiple interests, you may to briefly try your hand at a variety of activities before you decide.
So be sure to do research to find the nonprofits that share your passion for the issues that are important to you. It’s fairly easy to conduct this research online and through volunteer matching websites, but you can also investigate opportunities through your high school, local library, or center or worship. Learn all you can about the organizations that speak to you, what they do, and what you can do for them. (Make sure they are well reviewed for their transparency and effectiveness too!) Not only will you be more likely to enjoy your volunteer work, but you will also be more likely to keep an open mind.
You can also choose your community service based on your skills, schedule, and future career goals. For example, if you are interested in the medical field, you should look for volunteering opportunities at hospitals, hospices, mental health institutions, or nursing homes. If you love animals, you should gravitate towards community service at veterinary clinics, animal shelters, or zoos. Or if you are fond of physical activity and fitness, you can take part in a charity run, walk, or cleanup drive.
You might also take up teaching or coaching, so you can impart some of your knowledge and skills to other people. From helping younger kids out with their schoolwork, teaching a sport, or running a craft activity for young children—the possibilities are endless!
Furthermore, local nonprofits are often willing to collaborate with student-led initiatives. A great way to capitalize on this is to take the opportunity to organize your own event and collaborate with the nonprofit, be it within or outside your high school community. Large-scale projects like this can also help you learn how to perform a multitude of social services such as fundraising, planning, organizing, and leadership.
Being proactive—taking advantage of all the opportunities presented to you and putting yourself out there—is the best way to make your community service a productive and meaningful experience.
Spend time planning the types of events and activities you want to perform during your time as a volunteer. If you have ideas now and then, share them with your peers and supervisors (respectfully, of course). Not only will this help you be more aware of your objectives, you will also be likely to show more interest, commitment, and focus in your work.
Go the extra mile to prove yourself as a dedicated and fruitful volunteer. Achieving this isn’t as hard as it seems—it just involves giving up a little extra time, asking more questions, and being a little bit more engaged. The quality of your volunteer work will also greatly improve, and the people you are trying to help will reap more benefits. They may also be more willing to serve as mentors or recommendation writers in the future.
A few years back, I would have scoffed if someone had told me about the importance of committing to a cause. But now I believe that success is married to the kind of attitude and drive you have towards accomplishing a particular goal—especially with a goal as noble as community service. The success of your volunteer projects will reflect your own passion, and determination.
Preparing for the unexpected
Community service work is typically far from monotonous or routine. It isn’t as predictable as your high school environment, where you make your way to each class, chat, have lunch, do homework, and repeat.
Community service and volunteer opportunities are often distinct, remarkable, and wholly unlike anything else you’re doing. You should expect and prepare for the unexpected. I once went to an institute for individuals with mental illnesses where I had quite a few intense encounters; however, the experience was an emotional and intellectual eye-opener for me. When you perform community service, you’ll be stepping out the comfort zone of not only the walls of your high school but your thoughts and emotions as well. It is always wise to keep your mind and heart open.
In my experience, the community service you undertake will never fail to tug at your heartstrings. Although it can be overwhelming at times to see humanity for what it truly is and accept the rather harsh realities of the world, you, as a student, have the invaluable opportunity to play a concerted and active role in making things better. You can give back to your society, country, and the environment through your efforts. Why suffer from the bystander effect, and not play a part in a global movement in your own unique way?
How are you getting involved in community service in high school? Got any tips for other potential volunteers? Share in the comments or reach out to us.