Every student has innate traits that will help them succeed in life. These are inherent characteristics showing them at their best and expanding their contribution to our world. Some of these qualities come out when they are competing in sports, working diligently at their favorite school subject or when simply speaking to an adult about common interests.
Students need to know themselves. Of course, they have a lifetime to discover who they are, but knowing more about themselves can help launch them to even greater heights. Such self-awareness can have a positive impact on letters of recommendation, both for furthering their education and when they enter the workforce. When applying to colleges, many students look the same with their grades, classes, and SAT/ACT scores. The ones that really stand out have proven unique qualities that separate them from everyone else.
One of the best ways students can discover more about themselves is through community service. Volunteering for a cause is inspirational to others and can help to bring out all of those beautiful characteristics in a student.
In this post, we will look at the benefits of community service and how it affects students’ growth and development.
The Purpose of Community Service
Human beings must interact with the world around them. Whether it’s with people, organizations, nature, or animals, there is a circle of support life depends on. Our world is ever-changing with the advancements of technology to bring people together and share knowledge; and even though technology makes it easier for us to communicate through different mediums, there is a sense we are further apart from one another than ever before.
Serving is an act of humility and willingness to learn. It could be that we are serving someone less fortunate, taking care of an abused pet, or building a house for a family who has never had a home. In these different scenarios, students can put their inherent skills and traits to use in a way that addresses the needs of those they serve.
Community service can also be a filler for experience. Many people have the Catch-22 problem of “having experience, but no degree” or “having a degree, but no experience.” Students need to begin performing community service years before they become high school seniors applying to colleges or entering the workforce. When putting community service in a recommendation letter, it’s best to have it feel like a genuine endeavor, rather than something they did because it would “look good on an application or resume”. Service should never feel like an afterthought add-on.
The Story Behind the Service
Everyone loves a delightful story, which can be told in the written word, vocally in audio, or in a video. Students who perform community service can have many levels and different angles to their stories. A few story routes are how they came into service, what they learned from the experience, the people they’ve helped, and how it changed their perspective. Personal stories have immense value in connecting with others.
Everyone has a story to tell. A student who can tell their story can capture the minds of a college’s admission staff or potential employers. They see and feel how that student would be a great asset to their organization. Combining community service with other activities such as sports, work ethic, grades, and the student’s personality, creates a clear picture of who the student is.
Bringing the Classroom to the Service Room
Looking at what is taught in high school now, many ponder if those subjects apply in the real world. Is there a purpose to learning about the Great Gatsby? It’s debatable, but there is a communication piece of language arts that comes into consideration when working with others. Let’s look at what students learn in the classroom and how it applies to real-world service.
The primary sciences students learn are biology, chemistry, physics, and a choice of a fourth-year science. Biology, the science of life and living organisms, can give students a better understanding of their role in a hospital. Chemistry, the science of substances and chemical reactions, plays a significant role in someone helping cook food for the hungry.
A fourth-year science could be forensic science. Many students get excited about this science because it’s applied to crime and solving cases. Federal agencies offer student volunteer programs and unpaid opportunities to high school students. If a student is taking forensic science, this will give them a deeper understanding of analyzing crime scenes and impressing the agency.
Math Is Everything
Math is an essential part of our lives. From the number of hours of sleep we get each night to the number of bills in our bank account, numbers and equations confront us daily. If a student is helping on a construction site, they constantly measure and use angles. Working in a veterinarian’s office, a student may calculate how much medicine an animal needs post-surgery to help them recover.
Coding is a language of numbers, and it takes a unique mind (in my opinion) to be proficient at it. Many high school students volunteer at coding camps and teach this critical skill to elementary students.
The application of math is methodical. It helps to create an orderly design of the matter we occupy. In every aspect of the world, one can see the processes of mathematics and its effects. Math also cultivates critical thinking skills such as reasoning, creativity, abstract or spatial thought, and problem-solving. Even in art, the bridging of emotion with the physical, math has helped design some of the world’s most wonderful structures.
Math is also a fundamental component of music. Think of the timing involved in rhythms and beats. High schoolers can be beautiful music teachers, and it’s no surprise they are often good at math as well.
A transferable skill is a term used by many hiring agencies and executives. This simply means the skills a person has learned in one area can relate to another. Negotiating is a transferable skill. Sports agents, contracts, and peer mediation are an example of this. While negotiating and being well-spoken are great, mathematical ability is the ultimate transferable skill.
What Community Service and Volunteering Offer Students
There is little that can beat direct experience. Everyone can learn by performing a task. Some of the benefits of serving are:
· Establishing self-worth – It’s unfortunate to come across students who do not deem themselves, worthy individuals. Community service and volunteering help students understand they are reputable, and their efforts can profoundly affect others.
· Sense of pride – Everyone should have something they are proud of completing. When students speak about volunteering at their local food bank or shelter, there is a joy to their words, often exuding pride.
· Accomplishment – Being successful in an endeavor can help fuel an individual’s drive. This drive can also be a starting point for new activities and having the confidence to learn and succeed.
· Making a difference – The smallest act of service can have a profound and long-lasting effect on others. When students understand this, they know how they can change a life for the better.
Community Service Leads to Money
Money is an essential commodity in our world. Community service does not lead to money in a general sense, but it can open avenues for it to flow to students. Scholarships and grants are available to students who provide quality community service. Such service has awarded them an opportunity to advance their education or commitment to a cause they believe in.
Here are a few of the “FREE” money scholarships for community service and volunteering:
1. DoSomething.org easy scholarships – Students can make a card for a service member or draw a superhero to inspire students, along with many other things.
2. Equitable Excellence Scholarship– This scholarship is available to students who show courage, strength, and wisdom, as shown by community impact through volunteer services.
3. Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes- This outstanding award goes to up-and-coming young leaders who have affected people, their communities, and the environment. Winners of this award have done things such as supply food backpacks and even started environmental nonprofit organizations that bring native fish aquariums into classrooms.
4. Bonner Leader Program – The Bonner Leader Program is an immersive four-year program that supplies scholarships and work-study to students. Besides scholarship money, students obtain access to leadership and social justice training.
5. President’s Volunteer Service Award – This award recognizes the critical role of volunteers that reflects America’s strength and national identity. This award honors students whose service positively affects communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to act.
Encouraging students to volunteer for a cause they believe in can bring out the absolute best in them. They become multi-dimensional individuals contributing to the growth and advancement of others. Their service creates a ripple effect in the lives of others and encourages the students rising behind them to get involved as well.
Finally, students are free to set up any community service programs of their liking. They can start their passion project and pass it down to others for years to come. The student is creating a legacy. How many students can say they have a legacy at a youthful age? Imagine this on a resume, job, or college application! It’s not always about the money but the impact one can leave behind.
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