Every college-bound teen knows that high school community service is a key component of any college application.
Admissions officers look for well-rounded students who volunteer in high school. But according to a study by DoSomething.org, a group that connects kids with volunteer projects, students should heed this word of warning:
DoSomething.org conducts annual surveys on community service and college admissions. They have found that most admissions officers prefer students to be consistently involved with one issue over a variety of causes. Moreover, social change isn’t something you should do just to put on your application — follow your passion. Seventy-five percent of admissions officers stated that a school requiring community service does not “taint” their perception of the applicant’s commitment. If your experience was required, make sure that your level of involvement was clear, focusing on what you were most passionate about.
Knowing it’s important for students to demonstrate their interest in community involvement and be consistent throughout high school, the following are a few ideas that might help you decide which one is best for you:
10 Community Service Ideas
1. Start your own nonprofit
If there is something you’re passionate about, consider starting your own nonprofit around that passion. If you see a need in the community, you might be the catalyst to spur others to give. One 13-year old young man, who became a quadruple amputee at a very young age, saw the need to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, according to the Huffington Post.
Michael Stolzenberg was only 8 when an abdominal infection caused him to have a quadruple amputation. He and his brother Harris began Mikeysrun.com to raise money so Harris could run in the 2014 Boston Marathon and they could raise money to help amputee victims of the bombing.
2. Identify a skill you have and use it to help others
If you have a skill or talent that you excel in, consider using it to help others. Teach computer skills to elderly residents of an elder home. Tutor young kids at the local Boys and/or Girls Club. If you excel in sports, work with kids from the Special Olympics and participate in their summer activities.
3. Make hygiene kits for the homeless
We pass them every day and there is no group in greater need of help than the homeless. Apart from giving them financial assistance, there is another way you can make a difference and involve your friends and family: provide hygiene kits for the shelters to distribute. You can collect small hotel samples or purchase travel-size items to complete the kits. Reach out in your neighborhood, at your school and get the community involved.
4. Create your own service project
None of the ideas you’ve seen appeal to you? Get creative and start your own service project. CreatetheGood.org and DoSomething.org both have some innovative ideas and how-to guides to get started with your own teen service project.
5. Get involved with church-related activities
If you’re a member of a religious organization this is a good place to begin. Most churches have Vacation Bible School during the summer and are desperate for help. If you like working with children, this might be the community service opportunity for you. If you enjoy it, inquire about volunteering at church day camps or church children’s events.
6. Run a workshop for your friends to teach them personal finance tips
Are you good with money? If you are, DoSomething.org is sponsoring a $7,500 scholarship for teens who conduct these workshops. It’s a win-win. Run a workshop and possibly win a scholarship.
7. Organize an event to raise money for charity
There is any number of things you can do to collect money for a charity. You could organize a neighborhood garage sale with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. You could run a bake sale involving your friends, family, and neighbors and donate the proceeds to breast cancer research. Be creative and think outside the box. Pick a charity that speaks to you and repeat this activity every summer or throughout the year.
8. Volunteer at a food bank, food pantry, or soup kitchen
Most communities have services that help those who are less fortunate than you are: homeless, indigent, unemployed or struggling financially. Spend your summer volunteering at the local food bank, a church food pantry, and/or a soup kitchen feeding the homeless. Not only will you be providing a community service, your heart will be blessed by giving to those who need help the most.
9. Organize an event to clean the environment
If you are passionate about the environment and green activities, consider organizing an event: a recycling drive, beach cleanup, a cleanup of parks and/or community areas. This is an especially good idea if you plan to pursue a “green” career. It lines up with your interests and shows admissions officers that you are willing to invest the time in an area that you are passionate about.
10. Do something for troops, veterans or wounded soldiers
Send a care package to deployed troops, veterans, or wounded soldiers. Write a thank-you note and include some canned or pre-packaged food. Take a look at an organization such as Operation Gratitude to learn what to donate and who to send it to.
Community service activities can be great material for college admissions essays and help admissions officers see that you care about others, but there are multiple scholarships (Kohl’s Cares Scholarship) for students who are exemplary volunteers.
[Looking for even more ideas? Get the ebook on 50 fun and creative community service ideas!]