National Honor Society is an organization comprised of high school students in grades 10 through 12 with stellar academic records, as well as other leadership, character, and service accomplishments. Students must meet certain academic criteria, after which they generally must apply for membership. In order to become a member, your high school must have an NHS chapter. Membership requirements vary by high school, and most decisions are made at the individual local chapter level. Visit the NHS website to learn more about requirements for membership.

NHS is a great achievement to add to the honors or the extracurricular activities sections on your college applications. Furthermore, it provides excellent opportunities to grow your leadership skills through conferences and events exclusive to NHS members. To learn more about NHS and the benefits of becoming a member, check out our post, How (and Why) to Get Into the National Honor Society.

One of the key requirements for your NHS membership is fulfilling community service commitments. In this post, we will look at some community service project ideas to meet your requirement. Keep in mind that these projects are not limited to NHS members; performing community service will help you grow personally, as well show colleges that you are committed to bettering your world and demonstrating leadership.

NHS community service requirements

Community service is usually a requirement for NHS membership. You may need to fulfill an individual requirement, complete community service as a group with the other members of your chapter, or both. Your local chapter determines your service requirement, so you should contact a representative or visit the chapter website for details about what your school requires if you are unsure.

Some high schools require you to perform a certain number of hours of community service each school year to maintain your membership. Generally, this must be unpaid volunteer work that benefits the community in some way. This does not include any paid work or internships (even if they are unpaid). Some chapters offer group service activities in which you may partake during the year to meet some of your hour requirements, but you can also undertake independent projects. Make sure you verify whether or not you can use group projects to meet your full requirement or if you must perform some independent hours as well.

Community service project examples

There are plenty of ways to help your community. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Organize a blood drive
  • Tutor younger students or peers
  • Organize a cleanup of your local park or another public space
  • Organize a community festival or celebration (to amp up the effort, make it a fundraiser to benefit a cause of your choosing)
  • Raise funds for research into or awareness about a medical condition
  • Institute a faculty appreciation event or program at your high school
  • Start a recycling program at your school or in your community
  • Wash cars to raise funds for a worthy cause
  • Advocate or raise funds for a memorial plaque to be placed in honor of an important person or event in your community
  • Run a food or clothing drive for a local shelter or food pantry
  • Teach at an after-school center or inner-city program
  • Organize a book drive for local libraries and schools
  • Volunteer at a local library
  • Start a community service organization at your school
  • Organize a team for a walk to raise money for charities
  • Participate in an organized project like Habitat for Humanity
  • Initiate a Day of Service at your school

Check out Do I Need Community Service for My College Applications? for more tips and ideas.

Coming up with your own original NHS service project ideas

You may decide you would prefer to come up with your own community service project. And you certainly can—be creative! Start by identifying a need in your community that can be filled by a high school-age volunteer activity. It is important to keep in mind that there may be needs which you simply won’t be able to fill due to age and other legal restrictions. (For more on volunteering as a high school student, check out our post, Can I Volunteer if I’m Under Age 18?) Next, identify your useful skills. How can you personally be most helpful and make the most difference in your community?

Leverage your networks and connections to make contact with organizations that could use your help or support your effort in another way, like sponsoring an event, donating supplies, and so on. It is a good idea to cast a wide net here. Think about adults who you know, such as friends of your parents, parents of your friends, and teachers. Are any of them connected with a nonprofit or volunteer organization that could use your help? Do any of them own or know someone who owns a small business that might be able to support your efforts?

Think about volunteer opportunities available in areas that most interest you. You are likely to make the most impact, as well as grow personally, if you are participating in a cause that is meaningful to you. While it is certainly okay—and encouraged—to fulfill your NHS community service requirement and add the activity to your college application, you will perform your best work if you actually care about what you are doing. Furthermore, you are more likely to describe the activity well and demonstrate enthusiasm—and thus showing colleges that you truly grew from the experience—if you enjoy it. You should also decide if you would prefer to work alone or with others and what kind of commitment you can offer. Will it be a long- or short-term project? How many hours do you plan to commit each day, week, or month?

Once you have a plan, put it into practice. Whether you are starting from scratch or going with one of the examples above, you will need to do some research to figure out how to get started. An organization website is a good place to check first.

NHS community service projects not only benefit your community; they can help you grow personally as well. As an added benefit, your work will also show colleges that you are committed to bettering the world around you.

Check out our post on the National Honor Society to learn more about the organization. For more advice on participating in community service, read the following posts:

Do I Need Community Service for My College Applications?

Community Service, Reimagined: MCC’s Recommendations for High School Service

Can I Volunteer if I’m Under Age 18?

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Laura Berlinsky-Schine

Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works in publishing. She also writes, dreams of owning a dog, and routinely brags about the health of her orchid.
Laura Berlinsky-Schine