As you consider the ideal elements of a college application, be sure to put community service at the top of your list. Volunteer work for teens is rewarding and demonstrates a commitment to helping others. Colleges are interested in a well-rounded student that has a strong commitment to contributing to the greater good. Think about your passions and interests and connect those with a project in your community. In addition to helping others, you’ll also add to your college resume.
High School Community Service
Most high schools provide organized community service projects for students. Volunteer work for teens is even a requirement to be considered for the National Honor Society. Ask your Student Council leadership or high school counselor about school-sponsored service projects. If there aren’t any, jump in and organize a project with your friends.
Fill a Community Gap
Most communities have unmet needs that are begging for an organizer. Don’t be afraid to organize volunteer opportunities for high school students. You can talk to community leaders about what is needed or just take inventory on your own. You might choose a one day event like “Rake the Town” or a canned food drive that lasts for a month. If you don’t want to take the lead on a project, contact local community agencies and ask how you can work with them to get the job done.
Use Your Talents to Help Others
Consider using your personal talents to make a difference in your community. High school community service can include performing at a nursing home, serving as an assistant coach for a little league team or playing with young children at an after school program. If you’re interested in the medical field, consider volunteering at a local hospital to provide information to visitors.
Raise Money for a Good Cause
Organizing a fundraiser is a great way to help out an individual or a cause. If your local food bank needs a new freezer, or you have a friend in need, do the leg work to host a fundraiser. You can even get your friends involved. It may be as simple as bagging groceries for a donation or as complex as holding a pancake breakfast. A fundraising event will show your compassion for others and your ability to organize and handle program details.
Consider Church Related Volunteer Activities
Most church youth groups incorporate volunteer work for teens into their schedule of activities. Even if you aren’t affiliated with a church, most religious organizations welcome help from everyone. Contact a youth minister to see how you can get involved in a church-related service project. In addition to meeting new friends and making a difference, you’ll have one more volunteer example to add to your college application.
Summer Volunteer Programs for High School Students
If you’re wondering what to do with your time off in the summer, you may want to go abroad and volunteer. Summer volunteer programs for high school students are available in countries like Costa Rica and Ghana. Common activities include helping young children with literacy and motor skill development.
If you’re interested in health care, you can also work with community health nurses to assist with child health education, malaria prevention and nutrition. Organizations like Cross-Cultural Solutions have organized trips to help with international needs.
Enjoy the Benefits
In addition to building a solid resume in the college application process, you’ll also gain intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Each time you help someone in need, you’ll be rewarded with a smile, or the satisfaction that you made a difference. Often, high schools have awards to honor students who are dedicated to community service. Finally, high school community service may open doors to scholarship opportunities and other college funding programs.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.