Are you a high school student looking for opportunities to help others around you and set yourself apart on college applications? With the holiday season in full swing, this is the perfect time to start your search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Along with strengthening ties to your community, serving as a volunteer demonstrates to colleges that you have given your time and energy to help those in need, and that you have applied the knowledge you’ve gained in your studies to real-world settings. Many college applications and scholarships have a minimum number of community service hours that their applicants must complete in order to be eligible. But just because it is a requirement, doesn’t mean it cannot also be a meaningful experience.
What steps can you take to get involved?
When considering volunteering opportunities, the first question to ask yourself is, “what am I passionate about?” In order to decide how you can best make an impact, you must think about the issues that are important to you, and then search for local non-profit organizations that provide you the opportunities to serve. Certain scholarships are aimed toward students who dedicate their time to community service, such as the "Make A Ripple, Change the World" Kindness Action Competition and the 2021 Good Tidings Community Service Scholarship. For high school seniors who are actively working on community service projects this year, the "Zakat Foundation will award 40 students with scholarships in recognition of their volunteerism.
Some suggestions for volunteering in your community are:
- Help care for children as a volunteer teacher’s aide at a preschool or children’s home
- Serve as a mentor for teens or troubled youth
- Pass out meals and other essentials at a food bank or homeless shelter
- Volunteer as a nursing assistant in a hospital or relief organization
- Coach an elementary or middle school sports team
- Give your time caring for animals at your local humane society
- Visit with seniors in your local nursing home
- If you are bilingual, tutor children whose English is a second language
Volunteering opportunities will be more rewarding if you take part in activities that interest you, and it may even ignite a passion in you to pursue a future career in that field. Though it doesn’t hurt to gain experience doing a variety of community service activities (and you definitely don’t want to leave any of those experiences out on your volunteer hours log), a long-term commitment is definitely more noteworthy to colleges because it shows that you consistently and dependably served in that opportunity. No matter which organizations you choose to serve with, know that you are making a positive impact on your community and beyond, while gaining real-world experiences to help prepare you for college.
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