Volunteering: More than just Community Service

Nowadays, we all know that colleges highly value the “community service” factor among applicants. We usually see community service as the traditional pantry clean-up or voluntary tutoring work. But community service means more than just simply earning the community service hours. Community service activities help you discover your passions and help deliver them for the benefit of the community. In this article, we will detail the different kinds of community service opportunities out there and how you get the most out of your servicing experience.



Clubs & organizations: This is probably one of the most common ways to get involved in the community. This could include popular, well-known service clubs on campus, such as Key Club, Interact, Leo Club, etc. Many of these clubs have their own specializations. For instance, CSF (California Scholarship Federation) and National Honor Society are both service clubs and a honor societies. *While it is good to have both, don’t be blinded by the “honor society” name. We have heard of many families, students, and parents who highly regard the title “honor society” as huge hook factor in their application. The title “honor society” does not hold as much prestige are one may think.* Many other organizations could mix multiple disciplines, such as volunteering through making crafts (art), or volunteering within health/first aid related activities (Red Cross). Within these clubs, you may want to look into taking leadership positions, which can be relatively easy to earn through active participation and engagement.

Opportunities:

  • Key Club International

  • Interact

  • National Honor Society

  • Leo Club

  • Red Cross

  • (opportunities within non-profits and organizations are endless)




Volunteering abroad: Some programs, scholarships, and organizations have opportunities for students to volunteer abroad. The most common example of volunteering abroad is doing first-aid or health-related work for poor areas around the world. Other examples of volunteering abroad including help building schools in poor towns, helping farmhands tend crops, helping women in poor cities make and sell jewelry, etc. These may not seem appealing, but they are undeniably incredible experiences, especially since you are making an impact outside of your community. Volunteering abroad opportunities help students open their perspectives, and most students who volunteer abroad end up writing extremely compelling stories about their experience for college essays. But do not do volunteering abroad only for the sake of writing college app essays!

Opportunities:

  • GVI USA

  • Go Overseas

  • Friends for Philippines - Medical Mission Trip

  • ODFL (One Dollar for Life) Trips




Volunteer “internships”: Since paid internships are quite difficult to find for high school students, many organizations and businesses take high school interns who almost play the same role as a higher-end volunteer. These positions are unpaid and can include working for a senator, congressman/woman, assemblyman/woman, non-profit organization, etc. These experiences are valuable for students who are interested in learning more about policy and/or how politics play into affecting the community. Students do not have to be political science-related majors to gain a valuable experience from volunteer “internships.” Many of these internships are available at local hospitals and health policy related companies for those who are interested in the medical field, for instance.

Opportunities:

  • Intern with a senator, assemblymember, congressmember, etc. (may have to go in person to inquire)

  • Silicon Valley Leadership Group




Starting your own non-profit: This is more of a riskier path, but is an option for those who are willing to dedicate the time and effort to dedicate it to something they want to make a difference in. Do not just start your own non-profit to pad your college resume: it will show if it is just a filler you don’t have true passion in. However, if you sincerely have a passion about making a social impact in a certain field you are interested in (and is targeting an issue that is prominent in your area / you do not see great viable solutions or organizations approaching the issue), then this may be a great option. Do note that starting an official non-profit does include going through legal paper-filing, fees, and sincere dedication--but if you are passionate about it, you may get a lot from this venture. When starting your own non-profit, try to start something different or unique (not just another non-profit that already exists), and try to start it with a team of equally-passionate people. An advisor would also be recommended to help with the legal process and establishment of the non-profit. Starting your own non-profit is not for everyone, and if not, that’s totally okay--there are plenty of other available and just as great options out there for your needs and interests.




Even community service activities come in different forms. We want to let students and parents know that the purpose of community service is to help students get a better idea of what is it like to bring back to the community. This form of social service will play into students’ lives regardless of whatever field they go into. Colleges want to see community service not as just activity fillers, but an experience that has truly shaped students to become more involved, passionate, and informed members of society. We highly encourage students to engage in some form of community service in fields they are interested in to help discover where their passions lie.

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