-- 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.
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.
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
* 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
* 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
* 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?
Taking Time Off
Tips for College
College Essay &