Guest blog by Allison Henderson from The All About College Blog
A few years ago, I was chatting with a family about a student’s ‘brag sheet’ or ‘resumé’. When I asked whether the student had participated in any volunteer activities, the Mom shot back “you know, I don’t understand why everyone thinks volunteering is so important….we never got any help from anyone. Everything I have I worked hard for, on my own, with no help from anyone, even my ex. Why can’t everyone just pull themselves up by their own bootstraps?”
A hard question from a tough, world-weary Mom. It turns out the student did, in fact, volunteer at the public high school as a TA, in one of the Career Tech Ed classes offered. The time this teenager spent at school helping other students understand course content was beneficial in many ways. The teacher got a helping hand in an impacted classroom. By volunteering, the student had a chance to delve deeper into the topic and to explore what working in that career would be like. The volunteer also received a great letter of recommendation from her teacher for the college application. A win-win, IMHO.
Over half of teens in the US volunteer, contributing more than 1 billion hours of community service annually. Almost 2/3 of those teen volunteers are ‘regulars’ meaning they volunteer at least 12 weeks per year, primarily, through religious, school or youth organizations.
Volunteers Strengthen the Community
There are so many reasons for students to volunteer.
Here are a few reasons from a “Top Ten” list published by UCSD:
- Make a difference
- Encourages civic responsibility
- Teaches the importance of giving back
- Learn a lot
- Strengthens the community
- Foster empathy
- Test our a career and gain professional experience
Read this from Psychology Today:
- Once a volunteer, always a volunteer
- Volunteers lead healthier and longer lives!
Volunteering is transformative for youth: Read this: http://www.pointsoflight.org/about-us
And this: http://www.justpeace.org/village.htm
- Nobody is an Island
- Life is easier when you are part of a family, neighborhood or network of friends
- You start building a good neighborhood when you yourself decide to be a good neighbor
Did you know:
- Teens who volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or use drugs and have a stronger academic engagement and work ethic.
- Globally, about 1 Billion people volunteered their time. Surprisingly, Myanmar is in 1st place in total hours volunteered closely followed by the US and New Zealand. Buddhism is a strong influence in volunteerism in Myanmar.
Volunteers Learn a Lot
Whether a student volunteers because their friends are doing so or b/c it will look good on a college application, the benefits of volunteering are real. Regardless of why they do it, all signs point to encouraging them to do it.