Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community. But did you know that it can have many benefits for you, too! You may have heard that volunteering helps you get into college, but keep in mind that college admissions officers are not just looking for a list of organizations and dates. They want to see a complete picture of you, and real examples of your commitment, dedication and interests.
Reasons to Volunteer:
- Gain valuable life experiences and skills- Whether you build houses for the homeless or mail fliers for a local politician, you will experience the real world through hands-on work. You can use this experience to explore a potential major or career interest.
- Meet interesting people- Volunteering brings together a variety of people. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be a rich source of insight. For example, maybe you'll learn about the legal profession from a former lawyer you visit at a convalescent center.
- Send a signal to colleges- Colleges pay attention to your life inside and outside the classroom. Your extracurricular activities reveal a great deal about you, such as what your interests are, whether you can manage your priorities and maintain a long-term commitment, what diversity you'd bring to the student body, and how you've made a meaningful contribution to something.
Keep in mind, colleges are not interested in seeing you do it all. It's more meaningful to colleges to see your dedication to one or two causes or activities than to see that you've spread yourself thin.
How to get involved:
There are many people, places, and organizations that need volunteers. Here are some tips for getting started:
- Look around your community and in the phone book to see what programs are there. Call and ask if they need help.
- Visit your citywebsite. It may list volunteer opportunities in your community.
- Contact your local United Way, cultural arts association, student organization, or another association that can point you in the right direction.
- Ask your library, church or synagogue, and/or community colleges if they sponsor any volunteer groups.
Questions to ask yourself prior to volunteering:
It's important that you enjoy the type of service you choose and that you have the time to stick with it. Ask yourself these questions before you commit to an organization.
- How much time do I have to commit?
- Do I want an ongoing regularly-scheduled assignment, a short-term assignment, or a one-time assignment?
- Am I willing to participate in a training course or do I want to start my volunteer work immediately?
- Which talents or skills do I offer?
- What would I most like to learn by volunteering?
- What don't I want to do as a volunteer?
- Do I want to work alone or with a group?
- With what kind of people do I want to work—both in terms of who is receiving my services and who my co-workers might be?