Sophomore year is half done. Has your high school student chosen a community service project yet? The clock is ticking. Before you know it, senior year will be here, and colleges are looking for students who show a long-term commitment to one volunteer project. There’s no time like the present to lock down a choice.
Remember that community service projects are more than just a category on your student’s high school resume. These projects teach high school students to be involved in the community and to care about others. They also can be a way to learn new skills or test a career. Starting early teaches teens about the value of service and cements a lifelong desire to serve in the community.
You can help by guiding your sophomore toward a volunteer opportunity for teens that will have staying power. Start by asking your student these four questions:
Do you think you are making the best use of your time?
Although students shouldn’t focus their entire high school careers on college admissions, it’s important to put the most effort into things that will pay-off in getting into a good-fit school. One-time community service projects only amount to a blip on a school resume. Students should consider committing to one long-term community service activity that is important to them. But, also consider the practicalities of any volunteer job: transportation, cost, time commitment. Don’t commit to something that could become unwieldy.
Is there an established community service project that’s appropriate?
There are many reputable community projects. You can start your search at TeenLife.com and narrow your search using all types of criteria: location, organization, school, college, business, and summer programs. You can also look for local nonprofit organizations and volunteer databases. Ask at school, clubs and religious organizations.
Is there a new project that would benefit the community?
Many students opt to start their own community service project. These projects can be anything that helps the local community. For instance, one student collected used SAT prep books and distributed them to low-income students to help them prepare for the SAT test. Brainstorm needs in the community. Is there a community problem that could use a solution or volunteer time?
Is this project something you really care about?
If students are going to be participating in this project throughout high school, it should be something that holds their attention. Students who can’t relate to their community service project will lose interest and participate less and less.
What does your student worry about? Is your student better with people or databases? Are there skills your student has – tech, foreign language, arts, sports – that could be shared or would be useful to a community organization? Does your student like working with animals or kids? Does your teen prefer working with construction or databases, being indoors or outdoors, spending time on cerebral or physical activities? Make sure the volunteer activity is a good fit and then see where it goes!