Volunteering has great benefits for a high school student. It builds character, gives you real world experiences, and allows you to help others. In turn, all of this can help you with college applications. However, finding the right volunteer work as a high school student can be difficult. Not for lack of opportunity, but when it comes to finding a good fit.
You can find volunteer work in a number of ways, but consider these tactics to find the best fit for you.
Reframe volunteer work
When students start looking for community service opportunities, sometimes they may have difficulty thinking beyond certain stereotypical activities, such as hosting a food drive. In reality, any service you offer to an organization that helps others in need and you are not paid for counts as volunteer work. This can translate into building houses for the homeless, raising funds for an issue you care about, or even canvassing for a political campaign.
Find work that aligns with your goals
Since volunteer work can go on a resume as relevant professional experience when you apply to jobs later on, you can help yourself by finding volunteer work that aligns with your future goals. Consider places you would love to work, and see if they have volunteer opportunities there. Similarly, if you don’t know what kinds of organizations do the kind of work you want to get involved with, you can search volunteer opportunities for a certain activity and see what comes up. For example, searching something like, “volunteer with kids” can lead to discovering a number of local organizations you may have never heard of.
Consider your schedule
When looking for volunteer work as a high school student, you must keep your schedule and availability in mind. You won’t be able to experience the benefits of volunteer work if you are overscheduled. When considering different opportunities then, weigh your schedule against the time commitment the volunteer work would require. Can you volunteer for an hour a week? Or would a larger chunk of time work better for you, such as one Saturday a month or one week a year?
Take note of your strengths
If you don’t know what your goals are yet, or you don’t know how to make volunteer work fit into your schedule, consider what you do well and how you can turn that into a volunteer opportunity. Perhaps you’re good with computers; you could use this to help others learn how to use a computer, or set up a website for an organization in need. Maybe you are good at time management; some organizations might need someone to manage their schedules. Not only could you discover a new passion or interest by searching for volunteer work this way, you may even discover a new career path.
Find lists of ideas
If you still find yourself stuck after working on the rest of these ideas, go ahead and do a search of community service ideas for high school students. You can find a number of them (like this one or this one) that can get you started.
In the end, the kind of volunteer work you do matters less than how you do it. You can demonstrate the qualities any college looks for in an applicant through almost any kind of volunteer work. However, finding the perfect volunteer work as a high school student can shape your future more than you may realize. Not only can it gain you acceptance to a good college, it may even shape your career prospects through training and connections. Putting in a little time and effort now can pay off greatly later.