Why should you volunteer in high school? Well…why not?
Every Tuesday, I spend hours at my local animal shelter assisting in playgroups and temperament testing the newest intakes. This is how I volunteer, and I have been helping the shelter for the past five years.
Many people ask me why I continue to volunteer at the shelter and for other animal advocacy groups after all of these years. They wonder how I can give up so much of my time as a busy high school student. At this point in my life, volunteering is such an essential part of my routine that I don't think I can stop. I feel a sense of duty to the animals and other members in my community motivating me.
Volunteering, above all else, is a good and moral thing to do.
But I must admit that I also have an ulterior motive for my volunteering: I benefit from my work. A lot. Volunteering provides me with several social, professional, and even health advantages, and there are more benefits to volunteering than you might think. (There’s no such thing as pure altruism, right?)
For social reasons
Before I began volunteering five years ago, I interacted with a very limited social circle and I lived by routine. I went to school, ran at track practice, went home, and did my homework, mainly speaking to my parents, friends in those groups, and teachers. At this time in my life, I was shy around strangers, and I never knew how to introduce myself to new people.
All of that changed when I began my volunteer work at the animal shelter. There, I met a wide variety of people who differed from me in many ways, exposing me to new ideas and perspectives about life. A whole new world opened up for me. I feel confident saying most high school students would find similar enlightenment through volunteering too.
For professional reasons
I have made many friends through my volunteer work, since I have had more opportunities to meet people who share my interests. But I’ve also made more professional connections as well. When high school students expand their social circle to interact with other adults in their communities, they begin a type of networking. With more contacts in their address books, students have more people who can mentor them, answer their questions, or perhaps write letters of recommendation for them in the future.
Due to my volunteer work, I have met several influential members of my community who have helped me obtain positions on my local youth council and other boards. I have been inspired by strong, independent women who made a place for themselves in a male-dominated world. Volunteering has opened so many doors for me, doors that I encourage other high school students to explore.
On top of the crucial connections a student can make as a volunteer, volunteering is also a helpful résumé-building activity. Employers and admission officers are looking for motivated, caring people who are involved in their communities. Employers appreciate this commitment as well. During a recent job interview, my interviewer was actually stunned by my community involvement, and it inspired her to implement volunteer activities for her business.
For health reasons
As if the social and professional benefits of volunteering were not enough to attract volunteers, community service can lead to improved mental and physical health. Multiple studies (like this one!) have documented the benefits of volunteering: increased physical activity, a sense of purpose and accomplishment, an idea of satisfaction with life, and a feeling often referred to as the “helper’s high.”
I have observed many of these emotions when I volunteer, and I can see the mental and physical benefits in my everyday life. When I volunteer, I feel like I am helping my community and society as a whole. I feel invincible. I feel like volunteering is the right way to use my time and spend my days. And I feel utterly and unbelievably happy.
Volunteering gets me outside so I can feel connected to the great outdoors of the Mountain State instead of being holed up in my house watching TV or reading pointless articles for days on end. On the days that I volunteer, I am more physically active than I am on days that I do not, creating a sense of bodily well-being.
In short, I love to volunteer. Volunteering makes me feel good, and it has several social and professional advantages from which I benefit. I can’t say it enough: I love to volunteer, and I think everyone should, including high school students. With all of the benefits of volunteering, I don’t understand how anyone can ask the question, “Why should I volunteer?” Rather, I think everyone should start asking themselves, “When can I start?”
Why do you volunteer, CollegeXpressers? Or why do you want to? Tell us about your high school volunteer opportunities in the comments.