It’s tempting for high school students to spend summer hanging out with friends, sleeping past noon, and attempting to do absolutely nothing. And while it’s true that down time for growing teens is absolutely necessary, too much is neither a healthy option nor the wisest choice if college is in their future.
Encouraging high school students to get out and have some worthy, productive summer experiences is super important – for parents and for them – especially for those students hoping to score a scholarship or two. And even if teens are working, attending a teen summer program, or taking an online AP class this summer, they should be doing some community service. It can be fun, engaging, educational, and boost their high school resumes.
Volunteer jobs are a great way for high school students to show colleges they care about their communities and the greater world and want to make a positive impact on society.
Not sure where to start? Here are some suggestions for finding summer community service activities for high school students:
Let service say something about you.
Start with what your community needs and then think about where your student’s personality, skills and passions fit in. Volunteering can demonstrate a student’s interest and also be a way to explore career options and potential majors. Community service allows students to obtain hands-on experience in a professional field, develop skills such as discipline and teamwork, and get to know potential mentors. For example, tutoring elementary school kids, working in a hospital, or helping at an animal shelter, suggest a student is compassionate and dedicated. Helping with water testing, trail clean-up, or tree planting, suggests an interest in STEM or the environment. Volunteering in a hospital, lab, or clinic reflects an interest in medicine or health care.
Reach out to community organizations.
There are probably many opportunities within your community to support nonprofits. For example, a local shelter might need someone to collect clothing or books, sort food donations, read to children, or teach tech skills to adults. A library might need someone to help patrons with job searches, computer training, or resume writing. A museum might be looking for tour guides or helpers for an event. The needs are endless and varied. Some organizations may have special programs for teenage volunteers.
Create a service project and recruit volunteers.
DoSomething.org offers students the option to join any of many existing community service campaigns. Students who don’t find one they like can create their own service project. This might include organizing a charitable event, gathering donations, or recruiting volunteers. Wherever your student sees a need in the community, it’s a chance to create a project and spearhead its execution. Or, use social media to drum up interest in a cause – “Clean up the Park Day!” – and recruit volunteers.
Try an organized summer community service program.
There are many volunteer programs designed to give high school students a community service experience focused around a specific interest. For example, high school students who participate in the Summer Student Ambassador with Junior Volunteer Program receive a behind-the-scenes look at health-care careers. The program targets high school students who may be interested in pursuing a career in health care, but all students are invited to apply.
Volunteer abroad and think globally.
Service within the global community expands high school students’ minds and looks good on a high school resume and college applications. Programs like Global Leadership Adventures, which offers volunteer opportunities in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, are a chance to get a better understanding of the world while earning community service hours. Your high school student will undoubtedly achieve new levels of maturity, focus, and tolerance while abroad. Being immersed in a foreign culture can be a life-changing experience.
Any of the above summer activities will add to your student’s community service hours and serve to impress college admissions officers. With college admissions becoming more competitive, students should seek ways to stand out on their application. Adding community service hours to a resume will serve that purpose.