How You Should Think About Community Service in High School
This article was written based on the information and opinions presented by Christopher Kilner in a CollegeVine livestream. You can watch the full livestream for more info.
Reflect on What’s Meaningful to You
Many colleges find it extremely important that you get involved in community service. The first step to getting involved is to find something to volunteer doing that will be meaningful to you. In the same way your essay topics have to be genuine to you, whatever you decide to do for community service has to be something that captivates you.
Community service takes a lot of time and effort, so you want to pick an area that draws your attention and you’re going to be committed to doing it repeatedly. Find a cause that is relevant to your interests and has meaning. This could be something that has affected you personally, the people close to you, or your community. You must choose an area you’re passionate about because this is going to be somewhere you spend your time and energy.
There is going to be mandated community service as part of your schooling, but colleges want to make sure you’re looking for something outside of what the school requires. They do this because when you attend their university, they probably aren’t going to have a community service requirement, but they want to still see their students active and civically engaged.
They want to know that you have that extra self-motivation. It’s important to remember that your community service shouldn’t be a burden or something you’re simply doing just to check it off your list. Just like with your essays, colleges are going to be able to see through anything that is not genuine.
Consider Your Future Career Goals
If you’re struggling to figure out what you should do your community service in, think about your future career plans. Try and get involved in similar fields for your volunteer activities. This will give you both the opportunity to get a glimpse into that field and build your skills and understanding of something you really want to get into.
This is also going to be important in terms of building a connection between what you want to study and how you’re going to go about studying it. For example, let’s say you’re really interested in studying computer science and so your community service might be teaching coding to kids at underserved schools. Or maybe you want to study psychology and you’re really passionate about mental health. You can then volunteer with mental health organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Health, N.A.M.I, which has plenty of volunteer opportunities, especially for high school students.
Let’s say you’re not on the traditional STEM path and you want to study something like history. Look into historical societies in your community, whether it’s your city, your country, or your state. You can volunteer with one of those organizations to help preserve and share the history in your city and community.
They will love having young students help, especially if those students can assist with social media. While historians are extremely knowledgeable and have a wealth of wisdom, at the age of 75, they might not know what Tikok is. You can go out and help build a brand for the organization by volunteering and helping them in this area.
Choosing Your Volunteer Area
While it is not necessary to do volunteer work related to your career interests, it does help you kind of understand where your future passions may lie. It’s important to remember that your passion for your volunteer work is a lot more important than just aligning with your career goals. That’s because your passion and volunteer work should come through in your essays and your interviews. This will only happen if you choose something you absolutely love.