College students do more than just study

College aged students are in the perfect position to lend a hand and volunteer in, or out of their community.

Have you heard the saying, if you need something done just ask a busy person? That just might be true when it comes to college students. According to Michigan State University Extension, if you are seeking young adult volunteers, college students may be the answer. According to the College Students Helping America Summary, college students are volunteering at a considerably higher rate than their peers who are not enrolled in higher education. Among college students those who volunteer most are employed part-time working anywhere from 1 to 30 hours per week. While many volunteer, it is interesting to see that those who are juggling classes and work find time for making a difference; hence the busy student finding time to volunteer.

Volunteering on a regular basis is defined as serving 12 or more weeks with an organization by the Corporation of National and Community Service and they credited 44 percent of volunteering college students in this way. Others who volunteered choose episodic volunteering which is defined as giving less than two weeks a year.

Post 9/11, we experienced a growth in college age youth volunteering and that trend is continuing today. Regardless of their reason for volunteering, they are seeking an opportunity to make a difference. How they volunteer varies but the most popular activities included tutoring and mentoring. Some students will tell you this allows them to encourage the younger generation, led by example and be a role model for them.

This age group of volunteers is operating in a world of ever changing technology, globalization and living in a space that is shared with hundreds of friends through social media accounts and connections. They may support causes virtually and engage in a volunteer opportunity that is states or even countries away from where they live. Alternative Spring Breaks have cropped up across America and can take participants on an adventure with a service learning or community service component. To understand the difference about these, read the MSU Extension news article, “What is the difference between community service and service learning?

Service Learning opportunities have become popular with professors on many campuses and provide students with experiences in program planning in addition to helping a great cause. Learning by doing is not just the philosophy of 4-H Youth Development but is also a learning model that helps all ages to develop their skills. It is interesting that many of the states who showed the highest volunteer rates for college students also show higher rates for volunteering overall. So, the next time you think about college as a time for students to just off having fun remember they might also be having fun while they are contributing to a cause they are passionate about.

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