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Work Experience

     Work experience -- paid or volunteer, year-round or summer -- can help you identify career interests and goals, gain work experience, and apply classroom learning to the real world. It's also a great way to earn money for college, of course. Consider arranging for an internship or to shadow someone at his or her job.

Community Service

     You can also gain skills and experience through volunteer work, such as by tutoring elementary school kids or spending time at a local hospital. Some schools even offer academic credit for volunteer work.

Volunteer Opportunities

     Volunteering has a meaningful, positive impact on your community. But did you know that it can have many benefits for you, too? Volunteer work looks good on your application to University and can say a lot about the unique person you are through the choices of where to volunteer that you have made.

Reasons to Volunteer

Gain Valuable Life Experiences and Skills

      You may work at a homeless shelter or help at a seniors residence - but no matter where you volunteer you'll experience the real world through hands-on work. You can use this experience to explore your major or career interests.

Meet Interesting People

     Volunteering brings together a variety of people. Both the recipients of your volunteer efforts and your co-workers can be rich sources of insight. For example, maybe you'll learn about the legal profession from a former lawyer you visit at a convalescent center.

Get Academic Credit

     Some schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through "service-learning." This is a teaching method that integrates hands-on learning (through service to the community) into the school curriculum. It's available in high schools and colleges, as well as in earlier grades. To find out if your school offers service-learning, visit the Learn and Serve Web site.

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 city or town Web site. 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 Before You Volunteer

     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?

Related Links
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Note-Taking Strategies
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Extracurricular Activities
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Planning For College
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