Community service seems to be the new craze. Schools require it, college applications ask for it, and even some companies expect community service hours of their workers. Many students are eager to add community service hours to their resumes because these hours look wonderful on college applications, but aside from school requirements and a desire to stand out, there are many other reasons to pursue community service. While all service is good service, taking a certain approach could bring many more benefits for you and your peers.
An Opportunity to Explore
Beginning community service can seem daunting, as many are unsure of where to start. As a freshman, I completed smaller increments of community service in many different areas of interest. While I had some concept of my interests, this approach allowed me to get a feel for community service without any long-term commitments. I was glad to have a chance to explore early on in high school because as a freshman and sophomore, I was more restricted in my class options and therefore did not have many chances to discover interests within school. I tried to find opportunities that were different in nature and only one-time commitments so that I was not tied to work that I did not feel fulfilled by.
After completing several different types of community service, you may begin to develop preferences. I discovered I am a “people person” and therefore value time that can be spent directly interacting with others. I also began to develop a passion for leadership roles, something I never would have expected of myself. As a junior I began completing service hours which were bigger commitments, such as teaching an after-school program one day a week and serving on panels at my school for prospective families. These were projects I truly enjoyed, which resulted in a more positive experience for both me and my audience.
Do What Moves You
The high-pressure, competitive college application process unfortunately leads many high school students to do what “looks good.” However, when it comes to community service it is important to find service that motivates you. When you truly enjoy your service it optimally does not feel like work, but rather is something you enjoy doing. Not all opportunities will be enjoyable, but it is important for you to support your cause and to understand why you are giving your time.
Find What Fits
When you find the right type of work, it will not feel like work, and this is extremely important. Community service should be something you feel fulfilled by. Being motivated by community service brings the best outcome for both you and your peers. When passionate about your service, you will put your best foot forward and those you are helping will acquire the help they truly deserve. When motivated you may also find yourself taking on leadership roles more easily.
It is important to remember why you are making community service a commitment. Ultimately, any time you are able to give is certainly worthwhile and greatly appreciated, and taking advantage of service opportunities is an important step in discovering yourself. While I began doing community service primarily because it was a graduation requirement, I now volunteer because I have a genuine desire to give back to those who have helped me and because I feel immensely fulfilled when I donate my time. Receiving people’s gratitude means everything to me, and I hope that other students are also able to feel this same fulfillment. It is a feeling truly unlike any other.
Since 2002, NSHSS has supported young academics on their journey to college and beyond as they prepare to become the leaders of tomorrow. The mission behind NSHSS is to recognize academic excellence and honor high-achieving students, providing them with the resources and network to excel in college, career and community. In doing so, NSHSS connects members with global events, scholarships, college fairs, internships, career and leadership programs, partner discounts, and more. Discover what makes NSHSS worth it to student members and how you can get involved.
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