Community service seems to be the new craze. Schools require it, college applications request it, and some employers expect it from their workers. Many students are eager to add community service hours to their resume because these hours look wonderful on college applications. 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 conception of my interests, this approach allowed me to get a feel for community service without any long-term commitments. I was elated to have a chance to explore community service projects early on in high school. As a freshman and sophomore, there were more restrictions in my class options and therefore I didn’t have many opportunities to discover interests within my school. I looked for opportunities which were different in nature and only one-time commitments, so I could keep my options open.
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 spent directly interacting with others. I also began to develop a passion for leadership, 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 which motivates you. When you truly enjoy your service it optimally does not feel like work, but rather 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, this is extremely important. Community service should be something that makes you feel fulfilled. Being motivated by community service brings the best outcome for both you and your peers. When you are passionate about your service, you will put your best foot forward and those you are helping will acquire the assistance 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 can give is certainly worthwhile and greatly appreciated. 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 assisted me, and I feel immensely fulfilled when I donate my time. Receiving people’s gratitude means everything to me, and I hope other students can feel this same fulfillment because it’s truly a feeling unlike any other.