A Guide to Community Service for Busy High School Students

A busy schedule shouldn't be a reason for not volunteering. Check out this expert advice on how to fit community service into a hectic high school schedule.

High school students are extremely busy. Juggling their time between academics, school activities, and a social life make it seem like there are few hours left for community service. But with a little creativity, any student can fit community service in during high school.

Volunteering in your community has a positive impact on others, and it’s good for you as well. You feel good because you’re serving others and, in turn, others feel good because they are getting help. By volunteering, you can learn more about yourself and even be led to a possible career path. Whether you build houses for the homeless or assist a local politician, you can experience the "real world" through hands-on work, and explore your major or career interests at the same time.

Community service is not only your civic duty, but it also looks great on your college application. So how do you find the time?

Add volunteering to your schedule

You make time for what is important. If you feel that community service is important, and it should be, you should make time for it. Find an hour or two a week that you can devote to one activity. Everyone can find one hour a week, even if it’s on the weekends. Add it to your weekly schedule. The key is to devote your time to one activity. Don’t spread your time between multiple projects. Colleges look favorably on this level of consistency and commitment.

Pair community service with academics

If you are well-versed in particular subjects and enjoy helping others, consider tutoring. Many communities offer tutoring for English as a second language and GED completion. While you are tutoring, you’ll be brushing up on the subjects as well, which will help improve your own grades and help you score well on standardized tests. It’s a win/win.

Combine school activities with community service projects

Many school clubs and organizations participate in community service projects. For instance, JROTC units require community service of all cadets. If you’re interested in a specific club at your high school, ask if they have a community service project for their members.

Service learning projects

Some high schools offer academic credit for volunteer work through service learning — a program that offers hands-on learning through service to the community. To find out if your school offers service learning, talk to your school counselor.

Take advantage of school breaks

Instead of lying around on the couch playing video games or hanging out at the mall during your breaks, use the time to get in your community service. Find a short term activity that you can do over the breaks, like working abroad. Projects Abroad has a High School Special. Each volunteer project follows a schedule of taught sessions, hands-on and observational service work, as well as evening activities and weekend excursions. Lasting two to four weeks, these teen volunteer abroad programs are designed to make the most of your short time abroad as a volunteer.

Community service in high school is more than an item on your college application. It’s an opportunity for you to give something back to your community and help others. It may seem like you don’t have the time to devote to this activity, but it’s important to make time. Not only will you be helping others, you will enrich your life. Need help finding a volunteer opportunity in your interests? TeenLife can put you in touch with thousands of non-profit organizations in all 50 states, for teens under 18 who are interested in everything from working with animals to volunteering at homeless shelters.

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