If you've started volunteering as part of a New Year's resolution, or just because it's something you enjoy, chances are you were thinking more of other people than of yourself when you signed up. However, the altruistic nature of community service doesn't mean that there are no tangible rewards. Volunteering makes a great line on a resume and a college application, and is also excellent scholarship essay fodder. As an added bonus, a growing number of colleges and foundations are awarding substantial amounts of scholarship money for students who devote their time and energy to helping others.
An article on Forbes.com profiles several of the most generous campus-based community service scholarship programs. Several of these include full-tuition scholarships for students who have participated in volunteer programs in the past or who are interested in making community service a major part of their college experience. Drew University in New Jersey has recently unveiled a brand new civic scholarship program, following in the footsteps of The College of New Jersey, which also offers a sizable service learning award. Dozens of other colleges also offer similar scholarship opportunities, many of which are funded through the Bonner Foundation and AmeriCorps.
These full-tuition service scholarship awards can be wholly merit-based or partially need-based. One reason for colleges' increased interest in service learning awards could be due to their potential to help students feel more involved and thus become more likely to succeed in college. The Forbes article cited Pat Donahue, director of the civic scholarship program at The College of New Jersey, as saying that service learning has helped retain several at-risk students who are otherwise less likely to complete a degree than many of their peers.
Service scholarships have also been described by some as the new athletic scholarships for a generation of students devoting more time to service than to studying or sports. As athletic and academic scholarships are as much contingent on future success as on past experiences, so are service scholarships, which often require students to continue volunteering and participating in special courses and activities throughout their college careers.
To find out more about the Bonner Foundation, AmeriCorps, and other community service scholarships, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com.
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