Why Your College Student Should Spend Time Volunteering

Many high school students spend time volunteering or participating in community service activities as part of their high school graduation requirements.  Those who are not required to participate by their school often participate in community service activities in order to bolster their college applications.

Volunteering, or participating in activities to help others, is always a good thing, whatever the motivation.  However, one possible outcome of this requirement is that many students, once they get to college, feel they no longer ”need” to volunteer since the school no longer requires participation and their college applications are done.  Like participation in extracurricular activities, some students see these activities as a means to an end (college admission) and may not realize many of the other benefits.

If your student is in college, help them think about the reasons why continuing to volunteer or donate their time to a worthy cause might be something they should consider.  Aside from the benefit to the organization, your student will gain much personally.  Here are some of the benefits your student might gain from volunteering during the college years:

  • Your student will gain experience and may learn new skills that will be directly transferrable to their chosen career. Skills such as working as a team, problem solving, speaking to groups, interpersonal communication skills, and responsibility are things best learned through direct experience rather than in a classroom.
  • Your student will have an opportunity to try their wings and gain confidence in their abilities.
  • Your student will have an opportunity to work with others who may be different from them. Working with people of different ages, backgrounds, cultures or values will help your student learn both about others and about themselves.
  • Your student will make new friends.
  • Your student will have an opportunity for networking and getting to know people who may help them connect with others when they are ready to begin a job search.
  • Your student may make connections with people who would be willing to write a reference for them. Although they certainly can, and should, ask college professors for references, having a reference from someone who knows and has worked with your student outside of the classroom, and who may be able to speak to their work ethic and responsibility, will be helpful.
  • Your student may have an opportunity to volunteer for something related to their chosen career. This will allow your student both to explore the potential career field, and also gain experience that will strengthen their resume.
  • Your student may find that spending some time volunteering to help others will be a stress reliever as they spend a few hours each week thinking about and focusing on others.
  • Your student will be sending a message to future employers that they live their values, that they go beyond the minimum required, and that they are willing to work for causes in which they believe.
  • Your student will begin to develop a lifelong habit of helping others.
  • Your student may find that they have a lot of fun.
  • Your student will feel good about themselves as they work to do good, to change lives, and to make the world a better place.

One of the advantages of most volunteer opportunities is that they are often part-time and can be managed around your student’s class schedule.  If your student needs to travel off campus, they can ask others to join them and may even be able to make arrangements for the college to help with transportation.  Your student may also gain skills in time management as they work their schedule to be able to fit in time for volunteer work.

Volunteering should be just that — volunteer — so don’t insist or pressure your student.  But have a conversation about the values and benefits of spending some time working for the good of others.

In our next post, we’ll discuss some questions that may help your student decide what they’d like to volunteer to do.

Related Posts:

Is Your Student a Member of the “Apathy Generation?”

Is Your Student Preparing Now for a Meaningful Life After College?

Why Your College Student Needs to Do Something for Someone Right Now

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2 thoughts on “Why Your College Student Should Spend Time Volunteering”

  1. Thanks for your comment, Monica! It’s nice to hear that your college student has the opportunity built in to volunteer. Many students don’t realize how personally rewarding volunteer experiences can be – even in college when it isn’t required.

  2. Wonderful article! My college student still volunteers because his fraternity is very active in multiple community organizations. Volunteering also helps students in the college scholarship process, because it gives them rich experiences to write about for essays and connects them with leaders who can write more personal letters of recommendation.


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