Teens often pass over high school community service as hours to complete, or something that looks good on their college applications. But it can be much more than that, if you give it the chance. In order to appreciate the value of this hands-on experience, here are five facets that form the cornerstone benefits of a volunteering in high school.
1. It's proven to make you happier.
Community service provides physical and mental rewards. Researchers report that when you focus on others’ needs over your own, it ignites brain activity that reduces stress and depression. A recent study conducted at the University of Illinois found that adolescents who enjoy pro-social activities, like community service, are happier than their counterparts. Researchers found that 15-to-16-year-olds who derive pleasure from altruistic deeds are less likely to become depressed.
2. Volunteers gain professional experience.
Volunteers discover hidden talents that may improve their outlook. Although volunteering is work focused on others, the work and training you will receive will help determine your strengths and weaknesses. Through working with nonprofit agencies, high school volunteers learn about the functions and operations of companies and pressing social issues. And by gaining knowledge about local resources, students who do community service projects will be better prepared to solve community and social problems.
3. It brings people together.
Anyone working in community service and social work knows that one volunteer can’t do much. So whether you’ll be working with a team you’ve met before, or working with people from different background, having that common goal will allow you to accomplish more than you ever could alone. By finding out more about yourself and the community around you, you will be strengthening your confidence.
4. It provides more flexibility and options.
There are opportunities and choices right outside your front door. You can choose to volunteer for an organization that helps the local homeless, or one that champions international human rights. You can volunteer as much or as little as you are available for. As long as it’s something you believe in, volunteering will foster your interest.
5. Make a difference.
By volunteering, you have the chance to make a difference in your community that will benefit people you care about. The generosity with your time that you give will provide valuable services, and allow for extra resources to be directed towards other projects. If you take a moment to think about why volunteer work looks good on your high school resume, you’ll realize that engaging community service says a lot about you as a citizen. Volunteer work isn’t just about how it looks on paper, but more about what you can give and gain from this experience.